ATLANTA–Metro Atlanta law enforcement agencies are increasing their presence this weekend following a brief protest by about 50 people in downtown Atlanta on Friday night in the wake of the Memphis, Tennessee police-involved death of Tyre Nichols, 29.
Law enforcement agencies were already on high alert after last weekend’s protest over the fatal shooting of Estean Paez Teran, an environmental activist who the Georgia Bureau of Investigation said shot and wounded a state trooper at the Atlanta Public Safety Training Center known as what critics are calling “Cop City.” Law enforcement agencies were working to clear the site of protestors when the shooting took place.
Authorities said that Teran did not comply with commands from the police task force and that he shot at a trooper first. Authorities returned fire, killing Teran.
Teran’s death sparked a riot at Underground Atlanta, where several businesses were damaged.The development of the site has faced strong opposition because of the potential environmental impact.
Meanwhile, Gov. Brian Kemp has issued a state of emergency, calling for up to 1,000 Georgia National Guard troops to be ready this weekend to “subdue riot and unlawful assembly.” The Georgia State Patrol escorted the National Guard troops into downtown Atlanta on Friday.
Nichols’ death has sparked nationwide outrage and Georgia officials said they want to be prepared for any civil unrest that may occur this weekend. On Friday, Jan. 27, the City of Memphis Police released video footage of Nichols’ violent encounter with five police officers. The video of the traffic stop shows that Nichols was beaten by the officers after he was pulled from a vehicle and then chased on foot and beaten again. The incident happened on Jan. 7. Nichols died three days later on Jan. 10. The five officers have been charged with murder.
Gov. Kemp called the video “painful footage,” while Atlanta Mayor Andre Dickens described it as a “vile and brutal attack.
The DeKalb County Sheriff’s Office said it is operating on High Alert following recent violent protests in the metro area and in light of anticipated nationwide civil unrest.
“We remain in a state of readiness should we need to escalate activity to secure county judicial facilities and to protect staff and individuals in custody at the DeKalb County Jail. We respect our citizens’ right to lawful protest and we will not restrict that right unless laws are violated and the peace of our community is disrupted. We support Governor Kemp’s declared State of Emergency, and we are prepared to respond to any situation when and where we are needed,” DeKalb County Sheriff Melody Maddox stated.
DeKalb County Police will also have a heavy presence countywide.
“The DeKalb County Police Department will be increasing visibility and patrols this weekend countywide while also continuing its increased patrols in neighborhoods near Intrenchment Creek. These include neighborhood in the vicinity of Fayetteville Road, Key Road and Constitution Road, officials said today (Jan. 27).
The DeKalb County Police Department prioritizes the safety of our community and we encourage our citizens that if they see something, say something,” the agency stated in a news release.