Atlanta Mayor Criticizes Governor Calling National Guard

Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms (D) criticized Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp (R) on Tuesday after issuing an executive order to deploy state National Guard troops due to escalating violence in the city. .

Speaking on ABC’s “Good Morning America,” Bottoms acknowledged that the coronavirus pandemic and cases of police brutality had produced a “perfect storm of anguish” in Atlanta and other parts of the United States in recent weeks. But she said the city and Georgia State Patrol officials never felt a “need for the National Guard to come in” to address the situation.

“The irony of that is that I asked Governor Kemp to allow us to order masks in Atlanta and he said no,” Bottoms said. “But he called the National Guard without asking us if we needed the National Guard.”

Kemp’s emergency order, issued Monday, allows up to 1,000 National Guard troops to be activated across the state. The governor said the statement came in response to “dramatically increased weeks of violent crime and property destruction” in Atlanta, as well as shooting over the weekend of July 4 that caused five confirmed deaths.

One of the incidents involved the fatal shooting of an 8-year-old girl. Secoriea Turner was shot dead Saturday while sitting in a car near a Wendy restaurant that was the site of a police murder that helped fuel the growing tensions in the region.

Turner’s death prompted an emotional plea from Bottoms for city residents to end the violence, and the mayor noted that the city has reported more than 75 shootings in recent weeks. The Atlanta Police Department also reported Sunday another fatal shooting of a 53-year-old man near that same Wendy’s.

“We are shooting ourselves on our streets in this city. And they shot and killed a baby,” Bottoms said during a press conference on Sunday. “An 8-year-old baby. We are doing ourselves more harm than any police officer in this force.”

Kemp’s order says the National Guard would provide support in state buildings so that law enforcement agencies could use their resources elsewhere. However, no troops were seen on Capitol Hill or in the governor’s mansion until Tuesday afternoon, according to The Associated Press.

“The peaceful protests were hijacked by criminals with a dangerous and destructive agenda. Now innocent Georgians are under attack, shot and killed,” Kemp said in a statement Monday. “This anarchy must be stopped and order restored in our capital city.”

The Atlanta riots were fueled by the police deaths of George Floyd and Rayshard Brooks. Floyd, 46, died May 25 in Minneapolis police custody after a white officer knelt on his neck for nearly nine minutes.

Just weeks later, Brooks was shot dead by an Atlanta police officer who was responding to a complaint that a man was lying in his sleeping car in Wendy’s car. The officer, Garrett Rolfe, has been fired and is now facing a felony murder charge.

The death sparked intense protests in Atlanta, with protesters setting fire to Wendy’s restaurant a day after the incident. An increase in violence has coincided with rising tensions. Ninety-three people were shot between May 23 and June 27, according to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.