Protesters gathering on Saturday afternoon at Centennial Park (A. Mawardi)

The Atlanta Police Department has released a statement about its preparations to counter a second evening of protests and violence in the city.
At 5 p.m., protestors were gathering outside the Governor’s Mansion on West Paces Ferry Road, but there was also a heavy National Guard and Georgia State Patrol presence. Gov. Brian Kemp signed an executive order this afternoon authorizing 1,500 National Guard troops to deploy throughout the city to “maintain order and address hotspots of illegal activity.”
INtown’s contributing photographer Asep Mawardi spotted protesters already gathering at Centennial Olympic Park on Saturday afternoon. The park area was the flashpoint of last night and this morning’s protests in the wake of George Floyd’s death at the hands of Minneapolis police officer.
Here is the full statement from the APD:
The Atlanta Police Department is monitoring protest activity throughout the city today and is prepared to make arrests for any criminal acts, following destructive activities on Friday night that stretched into early Saturday.
APD officers, assisted by about 20 local, state and federal agencies, are prepared to monitor activity and protect vulnerable business districts and retail centers, including Atlantic Station, Camp Creek Marketplace, Greenbriar Mall, Lenox Square, Phipps Plaza, Ponce City Market, The Mall West End and others. APD is working collaboratively with those agencies to coordinate security and assure public safety throughout the city.
“I’m incredibly proud of our officers for showing professionalism and restraint, allowing protestors to voice their valid concerns,” said Chief Erika Shields. “We were patient. But we will not allow these protests to devolve into the destruction of property or placing the safety or our officers in jeopardy. We will make additional arrests and we are grateful to the assistance we are receiving from our partner agencies.”
APD, in close collaboration with its law enforcement partners, has a multi-layered strategy that includes reaction, arrest and SWAT teams to quickly move into trouble spots, stop criminal activity and take suspects into custody.
The Department will not tolerate the looting and damage to property that occurred on Friday night and Saturday morning that led to 71 arrests, damage to 20 APD vehicles (two of them total losses), at multiple fires, vandalism and other criminal acts. The Department is still working to determine the number of businesses that were looted, burglarized or damaged.
At least three Atlanta Police officers suffered minor injuries. One was pushed down during a scuffle with protestors when a large crowd attempted to surround a police vehicle  and two others were injured by flying debris. Officers were subjected for hours to objects thrown at them including water bottles, bullets, eggs, rocks, fireworks and knives. One officer was fired upon early Saturday morning while driving through Buckhead, but was not injured. Looting, broken windows and other vandalism occurred at several businesses along Peachtree and Lenox roads in Buckhead.
Please continue to monitor the Department’s social media channels on Twitter and Facebook for continued updates.
Thank you for your continued patience as we simultaneously work to keep you informed and keep the city safe.

Collin KelleyEditor

Collin Kelley has been the editor of Atlanta Intown for two decades and has been a journalist and freelance writer for 35 years. He’s also an award-winning poet and novelist.