|View this email in your browserAtlanta violence prompts warning from Kemp|
By Beau Evans
Capitol Beat News Service
Gov. Brian Kemp has sounded a warning following a pair of fatal shootings near a burned-down Wendy’s in Atlanta that has been a focal point for recent protests against police brutality and racial injustice.
Kemp said his administration “won’t hesitate to take action” in the wake of the shooting deaths and after protesters damaged the state Department of Public Safety headquarters in Atlanta around 1 a.m. Sunday, according to the Georgia State Patrol.
Atlanta authorities said eight-year-old Secoriea Turner was shot and killed when a group of armed people opened fire on the car in which she was riding late Saturday night.
The car was attempting to enter a parking lot across the street from the Wendy’s restaurant that the armed group had blocked off south of downtown Atlanta, according to city police.
A 53-year-old man was killed in a triple shooting next to the Wendy’s Sunday night roughly 24 hours after Turner’s death, according to police.
Kemp called the shootings and property damage part of a “recent trend of lawlessness [that] is outrageous and unacceptable.”
“While we stand ready to assist local leaders in restoring peace of maintaining order, we won’t hesitate to take action without them,” Kemp wrote on Twitter Sunday night.
The Wendy’s has been the site of intense protests following the death of Rayshard Brooks, a 27-year-old man who was shot by an Atlanta police officer on June 12 during an altercation outside the restaurant.
The restaurant was burned down amid protests shortly after Brooks’ killing. Since then, the site has been frequented by armed persons who at times have barricaded the property, according to police.
The governor’s comments come amid weeks of protests locally and across the country following the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis by a police officer who kneeled on his neck on May 25.
Last month, Kemp ordered 3,000 Georgia National Guard troops to mobilize for assisting local and state authorities with crowd control during protests in Atlanta and other Georgia cities.
On Sunday night, Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms also decried the shootings and vandalism, labeling the killing of Turner as a “random wild, wild west shoot ‘em up” that tarnishes the aim of peaceful protesters seeking criminal justice reform.
“We’ve got to stop this,” Bottoms said at a news conference Sunday night. “We are doing each other more harm than any police officer on this force.”
Other elected officials also lamented Turner’s death and condemned the presence of armed persons involved in protests at the Wendy’s.
Sen. Nikema Williams, who chairs the Democratic Party of Georgia, urged an end to the “scourge of gun violence” threatening children.
“We must keep guns out of the hands of bad actors and protect our communities,” said Williams, D-Atlanta.
And U.S. Sen. Kelly Loeffler, R-Ga., touted legislation she introduced last month to withhold federal highway safety funds from state and local governments that move to reduce law enforcement funding.
“The heartbreaking and senseless violence in Atlanta must stop,” said Loeffler.