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Police prepared to respond to potential protests after Roe v. Wade abortion decision

In a statement, the department said it 'supports every citizen's right to a peaceful and lawful protest' but stressed that it's role is public safety.

ATLANTA — The Atlanta Police Department said it is ready to respond if protests bubble over in the wake of the U.S. Supreme Court's move to overturn the landmark Roe v. Wade ruling, which made abortion access a right in the country.

On Friday, the decision by the high court's conservative majority is expected to lead to abortion bans in roughly half of the states, including in Georgia. The state's "heartbeat" law, signed by Gov. Brian Kemp in 2019, had been blocked from taking effect after a lower court ruling put it on hold until the Supreme Court took action on the controversial topic. Georgia Attorney General Chris Carr has now said "there's nothing left stopping" the state law from taking effect.

In the hours after the justices' decision, small crowds of demonstrators gathered in Downtown Atlanta near the state capitol and Centennial Olympic Park. The group was vocal and passionate, but orderly as they marched between the two landmarks. Many of them passionately expressed their concerns about the decision. 

“It feels like we’re going back," one person said. 

“Women’s rights and women’s reproductive rights have to matter. The fact that we are still, 50 years later, fighting for the causes that our grandmothers and our mothers have had to fight for, is absolutely ridiculous," another person said, as she expressed the importance of voting. 

“My ancestors showed up and we voted. We showed up when they were going to shoot us outside of the courthouse," she added.

Credit: Hope Ford / WXIA
Demonstrators gather outside the Georgia State Capitol in Atlanta on the same day the U.S. Supreme Court overturned Roe v Wade, the nation's landmark abortion ruling.

“We want to be sure that our children grow up in a world that would have the same rights that we did," another person said. 

More demonstrations are slated to take place throughout the weekend. In a statement, the police department said it "supports every citizen's right to a peaceful and lawful protest" but stressed that its role is public safety, and it would intervene when the law is broken.

"Atlanta is the home of civil rights protests and other social justice movements. It is in our DNA. We understand the need for people to assemble and have their voices heard," the department wrote. "We are monitoring activities throughout our city and are prepared to respond and address issues as needed."

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