Jan 26, 2023 - News

Gov. Kemp declares state of emergency over "Cop City" protests

A crowd of people carrying banners march in the streets of Atlanta as smoke rises from the crowd

Demonstrators protest the death of environmental activist Tortuguita on Saturday in Atlanta. Photo: Elijah Nouvelage for The Washington Post via Getty Images

Gov. Brian Kemp authorized the use of up to 1,000 Georgia National Guard troops during a 15-day state of emergency.

State of play: The declaration went into effect Thursday afternoon. It comes after a weekend protest in Downtown over the shooting death of an activist at Atlanta's proposed police and fire academy turned destructive, with protesters breaking windows and setting fire to a police cruiser.

  • Six people were arrested.

Catch up quick: The year-plus opposition to the Atlanta Public Safety Training Center escalated after Manuel Esteban Paez Terán, who was known as "Tortuguita," was shot and killed January 18 by a Georgia State Trooper during a "clearing operation" at the site.

  • State law enforcement says the trooper, who is still recovering, was returning fire at the activist who was occupying the forest they've dubbed "Cop City."

What's happening: Under the emergency declaration, the governor can empower the National Guard to "subdue riot and unlawful assembly" and arrest and apprehend people when called to active duty.

Of note: Though Kemp’s order only references this past Saturday's protest, it comes shortly after five Memphis Police Department officers involved with the arrest of Tyre Nichols were charged with murder.

  • Nichols died of his injuries days after the forceful traffic stop.
  • On Thursday, the Shelby County district attorney announced he would release footage of the arrest on Friday after 7pm ET.

Details: The declaration expires just before midnight on Feb. 9.

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