ATLANTA — Monday brought a major push to mandate masks in the state after The State of Black Georgia, a group of black leaders and lawmakers, delivered a letter to the governor demanding the action.
It’s just the latest move in a legal showdown between Gov. Brian Kemp and the city of Atlanta, after Kemp filed a lawsuit against Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms and the Atlanta City Council to stop them from imposing a mask mandate in the city.
“We will not stand by and let him silence a mayor who is standing up for her people,” said state Rep. Sandra G. Scott, House District 76.
They want masks mandated in the state, and the injunction Kemp filed against Bottoms thrown out.
“For the governor to have the gumption to try to come against Mayor Bottoms for trying to protect the people of Atlanta is inconceivable to us,” said State of Black Georgia Event Organizer Rev. Dee Dawkins-Haigler.
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Kemp also asked a judge to ban Bottoms from making comments to the press because of what he calls an inconsistent message that causes too much confusion — especially for businesses.
In a tweet this weekend, Mayor Bottoms said in part, “Far more have sacrificed too much more for me to be silent.”
“We came out even in the midst of COVID-19 because we understand lives are more important than political ideology,” Dawkins-Haigler said.
On July 10, when COVID-19 cases started to skyrocket in Georgia, Bottoms announced her decision to roll back reopening guidelines across the city to Phase 1.
Kemp pushed back and filed the lawsuit, stating that he's trying to protect Georgia businesses and their right to stay open safely.
In another tweet, Bottoms responded to Kemp, stating: "Reading is fundamental, Governor Kemp is suing Atlanta over recommended guidelines."
Bottoms maintains her restrictions are not mandates.
“This is all we have and so it should be mandatory that when you encounter other people, especially in a work environment that you are protected, and you protect other people,” said Rockdale County Commissioner Sherri Washington.
Channel 2 Action News has contacted the governor’s office for a response to the letter. So far, we have not heard back.