Thousands attend rallies, march through Downtown Atlanta Sunday in fourth night of protests
ATLANTA - Two protest events in downtown Atlanta Sunday night remained peaceful, but a group of a few hundred marchers again came face to face with state troopers outside the Georgia Capitol.
Atlanta Police and the Georgia State Patrol allowed the marchers to roam downtown streets for several hours Sunday night. The group blocked a number of intersections for five to ten minutes at a time, before then moving on. But the marchers were stopped along Washington Street as they approached the Capitol. Troopers manned barricades and blocked the marchers from entering the Capitol grounds. Unlike earlier protests, marchers did not attempt to reach the Downtown Connector, instead remaining on surface streets around Woodruff Park and the Five Points area.
Sunday marked the fourth day of protests in the metro Atlanta area following the deaths of African-American men in police shootings in Minnesota and Louisiana last week. Racial tension and tensions between police and citizens across the United States have been running high, compounded by Thursday’s gunning down of five Dallas police officers in apparent retaliation for those deaths.
In Atlanta, protests have remained relatively peaceful with the total number of arrests so far being in the low double digits. Many credit this to “the Atlanta way”, the unwritten rules of protesting in the city which was home to Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. That “way” includes city leaders allowing peaceful protest with the understanding roads will not be blocked and protesters will not try to make their way onto the busy Atlanta interstates.
This was tested Thursday as a sea of thousands was held back by a thin blue line of Georgia state troopers as they tried to walk down Williams Street and onto the Downtown Connector. The crowd eventually dispersed without violence. Protesters again Saturday night were turned away from interstate on-ramps and some were arrested for blocking busy city roadways.
City police and state troopers have been working around the clock, in 12-hour shifts, in a delicate balance to keep citizens safe while allowing people to exercise their First Amendment rights. It is careful balancing act that is bringing praise from former Atlanta Mayor Andrew Young who believes the city’s response has been nothing less than professional.
As the sun began to set Sunday evening, protesters started to gather for planned demonstrations in Centennial Olympic Park and Woodruff Park. Here is a look at Sunday night's protests as they happened: