June 12, 2020
Through much of the summer, and even in recent weeks, Black Lives Matter protesters have marched in downtown Atlanta. Protests across the nation began in response to the death of George Floyd and a video that surfaced of the Minneappolis man being killed by local police. In Atlanta, tens of thousands of protesters gathered near Centennial Olympic Park May 29 to call for police and criminal justice reform.
After marching to the capitol and back, protests began to turn violent with police and protesters confronting each other in front of CNN. Later, a police car and other vehicles were burned, and a curfew was imposed that would remain for weeks as protests continued. That night, and a few to follow, looting and further violence occurred as protesters and police clashed in downtown Atlanta. Protests were mostly peaceful during the day, but as night and the curfew drew closer, police and protesters would often clash with one another, with police using tear gas and sometimes rubber bullets to disperse the protesters.
Protests would continue in the months following, often focusing on the capitol, especially after the death of Breonna Taylor and the resulting court decision. Some of the more aggressive protesters, often associated with anti-fascist movements and ideology (aka antifa), have shifted more toward countering far-right protests, starting in Stone Mountain in August, and then more recently at the Georgia State Capitol in the wake of the election.
Jews were heavily involved in the protests in Atlanta, with many rabbis and Jewish organizations speaking out about the importance of solidarity between the Jewish and Black communities and highlighting the history of supporting the community during the Civil Rights movement. Some protests have been held that were specifically Jewish to support the Black Lives Matter movement.
Despite nationwide protests, no national action has been taken on police or judicial reform since the death of Floyd, and in Atlanta, the opposite happened. Gov. Brian Kemp signed HB 426, which imposed penalties for “bias-motivated intimidation,” and focused on punishing those who attacked police officers.
In addition, a $5 million plan was approved by the Georgia Building Authority and the Board of Public Safety that includes an 8-foot non-scalable fence to surround the capitol.
The site of the original protest, Centennial Olympic Park, has remained closed since the end of May. And while repairs seem to be completed from the damage done at the May 29 protest, it is still blocked to all public entry.