Gov. Brian Kemp has signed an executive order declaring a State of Emergency and authorizing the call-up of up to 1,000 National Guard troops in Georgia.
The troops will be deployed as needed to protect state buildings, including the State Capitol, the Georgia Department of Public Safety headquarters, the governor’s mansion and the Georgia World Congress Center.
The goal, according to the governor’s office, is to free up state troopers from those locations so they can help patrol the streets of Atlanta.
“Peaceful protests were hijacked by criminals with a dangerous, destructive agenda. Now, innocent Georgians are being targeted, shot, and left for dead,” Kemp said Monday. “This lawlessness must be stopped and order restored in our capital city. I have declared a State of Emergency and called up the Georgia Guard because the safety of our citizens comes first. This measure will allow troops to protect state property and dispatch state law enforcement officers to patrol our streets. Enough with the tough talk. We must protect the lives and livelihoods of all Georgians.”
The order comes after a burst of violence across the city over the holiday weekend that left four dead, including an 8-year-old girl, and saw the ransacking of the headquarters of the Georgia State Patrol.
Kemp, a Republican, issued the emergency order after threatening late Sunday to “take action” to curb the unrest in Atlanta if Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms failed to do so, a move that highlighted the complicated, and increasingly tense, relationship between two of the state’s most prominent politicians.
The governor's aides said earlier Monday that his emergency powers grant him the authority to deploy Georgia National Guard troops to Atlanta's streets. He took that step in late May, after widespread looting and violence, at Bottoms' request.
The mayor, who said Monday she tested positive for the coronavirus, did not immediately address Kemp’s decision.
But she issued her own plea to residents to end the violence. At least 93 people were shot in Atlanta between May 31 — roughly when the George Floyd protests began — and June 27. That’s roughly double the number from the same span a year ago.
"This random wild, Wild West shoot-'em-up because you can, has gotta stop. It has to stop," she said after the violent weekend.