ATLANTA — As protests turned violent in downtown Atlanta Friday night, Atlanta’s mayor and police chief were joined by entertainers T.I. and Killer Mike, Bernice King, and Civil Rights Leader Dr. Joe Beasley for a news conference where they urged the protesters to stop what they were doing.
“If you care about this city, then go home,” Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms
Bottoms had strong words for the protesters who are burning cars, breaking windows, throwing knives at police officers, defacing public property and looting buildings in downtown Atlanta.
“You are disgracing this city. You are disgracing the life of George Floyd and every other person who has been killed in this country. We are better than this. We are better than this is a city and we are better than this as a country,” Bottoms said. “This is not the legacy of civil rights in America. This is chaos and we’re buying into it. This won’t change anything.”
LIVE coverage of the protests continues right now on Channel 2
She said violent demonstrations like these are not how we bring about change.
“What I see happening on the streets of Atlanta is not Atlanta. This is not a protest. This is not in the spirit of Martin Luther King, Jr. This is chaos. A protest has purpose,” Bottoms said. “When you burn down this city, you’re burning down our community.”
Bottoms said she herself is a mother to four black children in America, so she understands the anger and frustration, but urged people to make real change at the polls -- not with violence in the streets.
“If you want change in America, go and register to vote. Show up at the polls on June 9. Do it in November. That is the change we need in this country,” she said.
Entertainers T.I. and Killer Mike reinforced her message, saying Atlanta has always been a safe city and should be protected, not destroyed.
“Atlanta has been here for us. This city doesn’t deserve this,” T.I. said.
“We have to be better than this moment. We have to be better than burning down our own homes because if we lose Atlanta what else do we have?” Killer Mike said.
Earlier in the day as things began to get tense between officers and protesters, police chief Erika Shields told Channel 2′s Richard Elliot that she didn’t want the event to become “an arrest fest.”
“They have a right to be heard,” Shields told reporters.
Watch the full interview below. Note: This interview happened nearly an hour before protesters began burning police cars and throwing rocks through the windows of the CNN Center.
Around 7 p.m., Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance-Bottoms said she was disappointed in the confrontations happening between police and protesters. She urged protesters to stop throwing items at officers and demonstrate peacefully.
“As a city, we are better than this,” Bottoms told Channel 2′s Jorge Estevez.
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