Governor Brian Kemp issued an order Monday that deployed 1,000 Georgia National Guard troops to protect state buildings in Atlanta, the latest in a series of mounting tensions with Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms over public health and safety. .
Kemp called in troops earlier this month despite opposition from Bottoms, who urged the governor to focus state resources on responding to the growing number of coronavirus cases in Georgia. The extension keeps them in place until July 27.
The governor, a Republican, signed the first order on July 6 after a citywide outbreak of violence that included the shooting death of an 8-year-old girl and the looting of the Georgia State Patrol headquarters in the southeast Atlanta.
The troops were dispatched to three state government sites in the city: the State Capitol, the Governor’s Mansion in Buckhead, and the Department of Public Safety building, which had been destroyed by a group of at least 60 people.
At the time, the governor said he had no choice but to call for reinforcements, and his order took the step as “necessary and appropriate to protect public peace and ensure the safety and well-being of Georgia’s citizens, visitors and property.” .
He said Monday that the troops “will protect state property to allow state police to patrol our streets, especially in the city of Atlanta.”
Bottoms backed Kemp’s decision in late May to deploy the National Guard after peaceful protests for racial justice turned violent. However, he told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution that he strongly opposed the relocation of troops last week to protect state buildings.
“It is a terrible image to have military tanks on our streets. It has the potential to further inflame this already very tense situation. Personally, I think it is exaggerated, ”he said in a recent interview. “But don’t blame Atlanta. Call it what it is: you want to protect your buildings. ”