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Gov declares state of emergency after rioters set police cars ablaze, shattered storefront windows in Atlanta

Image Source: Twitter screenshot

Following a destructive riot and arson over the weekend in Atlanta, Georgia, Governor Brian Kemp (R) declared a state of emergency on Thursday, according to an executive order.

The order was issued "due to unlawful assemblage, overt threats of violence, disruption of the peace, and danger existing to persons and property."

On Saturday, a small group of protesters lit fireworks and threw rocks at the Atlanta Police Foundation and local businesses. The masked perpetrators chanted "no justice, no peace, no killer police" before setting two police cruisers on fire and hurling bricks at the officers.

Rioters organized the protest to oppose the fatal police shooting of 26-year-old Manuel Esteban Paez Teran. On January 18, Teran was protesting in southeast Atlanta. After allegedly refusing to comply with law enforcement and shooting at a Georgia State Patrol trooper, officers returned fire. Teran was struck and killed.

Authorities reported that no officers, protestors, or bystanders were hurt during the Saturday riot. Law enforcement confiscated explosive devices and arrested at least six individuals in connection with the demonstration.

Atlanta Mayor Andre Dickens described the protesters as "outsiders who have come here for their own political aims."

"They want to scare and disrupt. But Atlanta is stronger than them," Dickens stated. "But we do not tolerate violence or property destruction."

In response to the rioters' actions, Kemp stated, "While the state continues to respect peaceful protest, acts of violence against person or property will NOT be tolerated. Those committing such unlawful acts will be arrested and prosecuted fully."

According to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Kemp's aides stated that the emergency order was also issued as a precautionary measure as the city braces for more potential riots following recent grand jury indictments charging five former Memphis officers with second-degree murder in the death of 29-year-old Tyre Nichols earlier this month.

Memphis police plan to release bodycam footage of the incident Friday evening.

Kemp's executive order grants him the authority to deploy up to 1,000 Georgia National Guard troops until February 19, who would respond to manage "unlawful assemblage, overt threats of violence, disruption of the peace, and danger existing to persons and property."

"We understand the executive order is purely precautionary based on possible unrest following the release of the videos from Memphis," an official told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. "There are no immediate intentions to deploy the Guard."

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