Amid widespread riots and looting in the US state of Georgia, Governor Brian Kemp has issued an emergency order to deploy as many as 1,000 Georgia National Guard troops to protect state buildings in Atlanta and quell the ongoing violence.
The state’s most populous city, Atlanta, has been besieged by widespread anarchy following the death of Rayshard Brooks, who was gunned down by a police officer during an attempt to resist arrest, prompting some of the city’s residents to loot and burn down businesses near the site of his death.
This weekend, a burst of mass violence saw 23 people shot, four of whom were killed, including an 8-year-old girl whose death has become a focal point in the conversation about the purpose of Black Lives Matter, which orients its cause around the abolition of the police.
Not including those wounded and killed over the weekend, 93 people were shot between May 31 and June 27—double the number of shootings from last year.
In June, police responding to a shooting at the southwest Atlanta neighbourhood of Rayshard Brooks’ death were set upon by a group of Black Lives Matter protesters who assaulted and intimidated a white police officer for responding to the call. Incidents like this one have prompted the city to reduce police presence in certain parts of the city.
On Sunday night, protesters attacked the Georgia State Patrol headquarters with fireworks and other projectile weapons.
Kemp made his decision to deploy the National Guard following Atlanta Mayor Keisha Bottoms’ inability to keep the situation under control. Bottoms had previously requested Kemp help her in quelling the violence on Atlanta’s streets in late May.
AJC reports that the troops are expected to be stationed to the state Capitol, which has been the site of massive protests over statues of Civil War figures. They will also be stationed at the Governor’s Mansion in Buckhead, and the Department of Public Safety building in southeast Atlanta, which was recently vandalized by rioters.
“Peaceful protests were hijacked by criminals with a dangerous, destructive agenda. Now, innocent Georgians are being targeted, shot, and left for dead,” said Kemp. “This lawlessness must be stopped and order restored in our capital city.”
Mayor Bottoms did not oppose Kemp’s decision to call in the National Guard and has since urged the city’s residents to end the violence.
“This random wild, Wild West shoot-‘em-up because you can, has gotta stop. It has to stop,” she said.