ATLANTA — A peaceful protest escalated into a night of violence in Atlanta.
Protesters took to the streets of Atlanta over the recent killings of Ahmaud Arbery, George Floyd and Breonna Taylor - black people all killed by law enforcement or white individuals.
After first gathering at Centennial Olympic Park before moving towards CNN Center, where Atlanta Police Chief Erika Shields met face-to-face with many protesters.
Despite a few early tussles, for much of the evening, it appeared that Atlanta would be spared the violence seen in Minneapolis and Louisville.
But before the night was over, demonstrators set a police car and American flag on fire, spray-painted the iconic logo sign at CNN headquarters, broke into a restaurant, and headed towards the popular Lenox Square mall in Buckhead.
Police officers were pelted with bottles.
The College Football Hall of Fame was looted, smoke was seen billowing near The Tabernacle concert venue, and Atlanta's mayor held a news conference urging protesters to go home.
As of early Saturday morning, the protests continued.
This story is developing. Refresh often for updates.
Saturday, May 30 updates
6:00 a.m. - Video from an 11Alive photojournalist shows looting at the Target in Buckhead. Atlanta Fire Department said they were called to extinguish a fire after one was set in the back of the store and after fireworks were set off inside the store.
1:23 a.m. -- Atlanta Fire and Rescue said it's working a fire at 152 Luckie Street, which is the address of the popular concert venue The Tabernacle. 11Alive's Ryan Kruger said he saw a fire crew at that scene. He said he did not see any flames at the venue.
1:20 a.m. -- Atlanta police said there have been "multiple instances of shots being fired by people in these groups of protestors. Most notably, shots fired in the area of Phipps Plaza and shots fired in the area of Peachtree Street and Marietta Street."
According to John Chafee of Atlanta Police, authorities responding to a shots fired call found a man who had been shot in the area of Peachtree Street and Wall Street. He was transported to Grady Hospital in stable condition.
The shooting is under investigation.
12:30 a.m. -- Atlanta police confirm that looting has taken place in the area of Lenox Square.
Atlanta Fire reported via Twitter, "Atlanta Fire has been responding to multiple vehicle fires and reports of building fires throughout downtown and now into the Buckhead area. Mutual aide has been request from neighboring jurisdictions."
Atlanta Fire said they were working at fire at Del Frisco’s Restaurant at Lenox Square. "Fire units in the area but unable to get to fire due to protestors," they said.
12:17 a.m. -- Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp tweeted that he was declaring a State of Emergency in Fulton County. Kemp said the order was made after consultation with Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms.
The order will activate as many as 500 Georgia National Guard members to "protect people & property in Atlanta", according to Kemp's tweet.
The Guardsmen will assist other state and local authorities in subduing the protests, Kemp stated.
"We will continue to make all state resources available to local leaders during this emergency situation," Kemp said.
Midnight -- A large police presence is seen on traffic cameras outside of Lenox Square. Police appear to be diverting traffic about from the popular mall.
Friday, May 29 updates
11:37 p.m. - Police are now aggressively moving the line back and arresting protesters.
11:19 p.m. - Police say they are responding to reports of protests at Lenox Square mall.
10:54 p.m. - Protesters are setting off fireworks.
10:51 p.m. - Clayton County Sheriff SWAT units arrive, according to 11Alive's Hope Ford.
10:29 p.m. - In an update, Sgt. Cortez Stafford with the Atlanta Fire and Rescue said they have responded to several calls to cars burning throughout the night.
Stafford said that crews had to extinguish fires that burned at least one Atlanta Police Car, a Georgia Tech Police car and a fire inside the McCormick and Schmick's. Stafford said police were able to get inside and stop it before it spread.
However, in at least one instance, Stafford said they were not able to respond to car fires burning along Park Avenue and Marietta Street extremely close to a hotel, but they weren't able to get there because of a hostile crowd.
Stafford said APD used tear gas to disperse the crowd, but they still were not able to put out the fires.
"We had to let them burn," Stafford said, who added that their biggest concern is that one of those hotels or buildings would catch fire and crews wouldn't be able to get to.
Safety, tonight, is a "big deal," Stafford said.
"At this point, they really don't care who you are," he added, saying crews were attacked with rocks and other objects.
Stafford said they are now trying to coordinate with police for protection and eliminate any threats.
"If we can get to these fires, we will extinguish them," he said. "We can't protect ourselves with rocks and put a fire out at the same time."
10:28 p.m. - Pastor of Ebenezer Baptist Church Rev. Raphael Warnock issued the following statement:
"As a citizen and pastor of Ebenezer Baptist Church, I stand with all those in Atlanta and across the country, who seek to peacefully demonstrate their outrage against the institutionalized violence that took the life of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery and so many others. Like you, I am hurting. But I plead with us all to maintain the discipline of peaceful protest. To do otherwise is to put one more weapon in the hands of those who would discredit our protests and dismiss our rightful complaints. Atlanta, the hometown of Martin Luther King Jr., knows the power of nonviolent protest. We must stand in love even as we stand up for justice. It is the more excellent way."
10:21 p.m. - Police confirm there has been looting, and that the College Football Hall of Fame was one of the places targeted.
10:00 p.m. - At least one vehicle has become engulfed in flames near the College Football Hall of Fame.
9:53 p.m. - Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms, Atlanta Police Chief Erika Shields, rappers T.I. and Killer Mike and Dr. Bernice King hold a briefing, asking for protesters to go home and keep things peaceful.
9:30 p.m. - 11Alive's Ryan Kruger and Hope Ford report that police have begun using tear gas to disperse the crowds.
9:06 p.m. - Protesters appear to be busting windows to the entrance doors to the CNN Center.
8:31 p.m. - The windows of restaurants and businesses near the CNN Center have been smashed, as protests turn chaotic
8:19 p.m. - A police car has been set on fire outside of the CNN Center.
8:12 p.m. - Atlanta Police and Chief Shields will hold a media briefing at police headquarters.
8:11 p.m. - Ambassador Andrew Young, in an interview with 11Alive, said the protests have "disintegrated into foolishness."
8:04 p.m. - Protesters have made their way onto the Interstate, as they bring traffic to stop.
7:57 p.m. - Police are now actively pushing protesters back, with some arrests happening.
7:50 p.m. - Protesters begin to smash the windows of police cars with pieces of barricades as police begin actively pushing crowds back. Some arrests are being made, as well. At least nine cars were damaged, police said.
7:45 p.m. - Atlanta Police told 11Alive's Ryan Kruger that one of their officers did get pushed to the ground and got minor injuries. They said pepper spray has also been used, police said.
7:43 p.m. - Police officers wearing riot gear have now arrived to the crowd.
7:40 p.m. - Atlanta Police have issued a statement on the protest:
"We continue to monitor protestors on Centennial Olympic Park Drive near Marietta Street. The demonstration began peacefully with protestors marching from Centennial Olympic Park to the Capitol and back. Upon returning to Centennial Olympic Park, the majority of protestors entered into the park while a portion walked south on Centennial Olympic Park Drive where they surrounded an officer inside his patrol vehicle. Additional officers arrived and began to push protestors back away from the vehicle, which led to a number of scuffles between police and protestors and at least three arrests. One officer was pushed to the ground and sustained minor injuries. It does appear pepper spray was utilized several times during the confrontation. Currently, we are attempting to allow the protestors to continue with a peaceful demonstration. Officers have been subjected to water bottles, eggs and other items being thrown at them. However we remain hopeful this activity will cease and there will be no need for further arrests or clashes with protestors."
7:32 p.m. - A window of the CNN Center has been broken, and police are now moving in front of the building.
7:25 p.m. - An American flag has been set on fire in the crowd.
7:14 p.m. - People in the crowd are seen throwing bottles and other items at police officers.
7:12 p.m. - Demonstrators spray paint and climb atop the CNN letters outside the CNN Center as they wave "black lives matter" flags.
6:44 p.m. - Chief Shields, from the crowd, tells the public: "People are upset, they're angry, they're scared. I get it. They want to be heard."
When asked about officers being able to clear the roads, Shields said that's not a priority.
"My takeaway, is, there isn't really traffic. The city's largely closed, so if people want to stand in the streets ... alright," she said shrugging.
Shields added that while there is not a curfew in place, she said her goal is to give protesters a space to have their voices heard.
"Folks are upset. They want to be heard, and I think they have a right to be heard, I don't want anybody to get hurt, I hope there isn't property damage," she said. "But to be heard, I get it ... I don't want this to be an arrest fest."
6:33 p.m. - Police are asking protesters to clear from the middle of the street, or they will be arrested.
6:25 p.m. - Governor Kemp, quoting a statement from the mayor, has tweeted in regards to the protests.
6:23 p.m. - A Twitter video shows Atlanta Police Chief Erika Shields in the crowd, listening to the protesters.
6:20 p.m. - Police are now trying to push the crowd back with tankers.
6:10 p.m. - The protests seem to have broken in to multiple groups - a standoff with police at the CNN Center, a group at Centennial Olympic Park and several smaller groups.
5:45 p.m. - Police and protesters appear to be in a standoff that is showing signs of becoming aggressive.
5:41 p.m. - A protester appears to have been taken into custody.
5:39 p.m. - Tussling appears to be breaking outside the CNN Center.
5:28 p.m. -
5:27 p.m. - Protesters appear to be surrounding a car trying to drive on the streets. While the demonstrators don't appear to be harming the car, police are moving the crowd back so that the car can continue driving.
5:12 p.m. - The mayor's office sent this statement to 11Alive:
"When lives and the conscience of this nation are at peril, we as a people are expected to exercise our Constitutional rights to peacefully assemble and have our voices heard. Atlanta embodies these values, and I encourage all who exercise these rights to remember Atlanta’s legacy of peaceful protest leading to progress."
4:30 p.m. -
4:13 p.m. - Protests are on the move.
3:00 p.m. - Demonstrators meet in Centennial Olympic Park to make signs ahead of a march for George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery and Breonna Taylor.
Protesters seek justice for death of George Floyd in Atlanta - May 29, 2020
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