Mayor, police chief discuss National Guard, curfew options

by: Sophia Choi, Aaron Diamant Updated:

ATLANTA - Another protest is being organized in Atlanta on Monday night, but instead of a downtown rally, protesters plan to converge on the Buckhead community.
 
Atlanta police and Mayor Kasim Reed held a news conference Monday morning to discuss plans for the event as well as the marches and protests over the weekend.

Police officers have worked 6,000 hours of overtime so far, according to estimates. 
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The mayor didn't have a dollar figure for tax money spent on extra police patrols, but said he is working to figure that out.
 
READ: Protesters say their efforts in Atlanta not over yet
 
Reed said officers are exhausted, but they will continue working 12-hour shifts as long as the protests last.
 
Over the weekend, 15,000 protesters attended events over four days. Around 15 people were arrested.
 
"In some cases they have had water bottles thrown at them and insults and profanities shouted at them repeatedly for hours on end, yet they have remained calm and professional," Reed said.
 
He said that after this week, officials will reassess to see where they are in terms of manpower. He said calling in the National Guard isn't out of the question.
 
The mayor said he and Police Chief George Turner will sit down and seriously consider a curfew.
 
Reed said officers are doing all they can not to arrest young people.
 
READ: T.I. takes part in Atlanta protests
 
"If we had started arresting these young people, we would be contributing to the very pathology that we're talking about, and that is giving young black people an arrest record, which in this day and age of technology is going to be found out by a future employer,” Reed said.
 
But the mayor said everything has its limits and warned protesters to show respect and restraint as they demonstrate.
 
He says he's noticed a worrisome change in the demonstrations as the days have gone on.
 
"We weren't seeing families marching anymore. We were seeing a different kind of activist, in people affiliated with community organizations that we were unaware of, and this has caused a concern for us," Reed said.
 
Turner also talked about changes in police tactics in the wake of last week's shootings that killed five Dallas officers.
 
"We had more people in plain clothes monitoring. More people that were doing more intelligence gathering," Turner said.
 
Also, instead of wearing tactical gear, which could incite some demonstrators, officers wore and will continue to wear their regular uniforms.
 
"I believe less is best until we need to step in," Turner said.
 
Social media announcements indicate that protesters are planning to gather at 7 p.m. at the Lenox Square MARTA station.
 
Once again, Reed emphasized that any attempt to get onto the interstates and block traffic will not be tolerated.

MARTA police preparing for protest

MARTA police Chief Wanda Dunham said the agency is preparing for the protest planned for Monday night.

"Our officers are trained in crowd management and they know that words can incite, that they need to remain calm," Dunham told Channel 2's Aaron Diamant.

Monday night would be the fifth straight night of protests in Atlanta sparked by the shooting deaths of two black men in Minnesota and Louisiana.

"So far, the protestors that we've had have been really, really respectful of the transit system, and the transit station and our officers have also been respectful, but we know that that can change at any minute," Dunham said.

She says response plans are already in place.

"We train every day. We look at any kind of vulnerabilities. We do assessments to see where we may have gaps in coverage," Dunham said.
 
She said her department is working closely with APD on the planned protest Monday and will have more officers on duty in highly visible uniforms. They will also have K-9 units checking the system for potential explosives and said riders should feel safe.
 
"You can never be 100 percent sure that you're going to prevent any type of attack, but what we have to do is know that we've done everything that we can possibly do," she said.

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