Police arrest 64 during Sunday protests as questions linger about ‘agitators’ and ‘disruptors’

A traffic camera captures an image of smoke bombs and tear gas being deployed on Sunday night along Centennial Park Drive.

The Atlanta Police Department made 64 arrests during Sunday night’s George Floyd protests, bringing the weekend total to 292.

Bolstered by National Guard troops and Georgia State Patrol officers, APD made quick work clearing the streets on Sunday night to enforce the 9 p.m. curfew issued by Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms.

Protesters shot fireworks and smoke bombs at police officers and used construction fencing and other debris to erect barricades along Centennial Park Drive. However, law enforcement deployed tear gas, made arrests, and moved in formation to mostly disperse the crowds by midnight.

APD spokesman Sgt. John Chaffee released this statement: “As of midnight, we made 64 arrests during Sunday’s protests and there were no major incidents. While we are pleased with the progress made today, we will remain ready for more issues as we enter into the workweek.”

Two APD officers were terminated on Sunday after using excessive force to arrest two college students Downtown, while Motors Officer Maximilian Brewer, who was on duty during the protests in Downtown on May 30, is recovering in ICU at Grady Hospital after being struck by an ATV. The driver of the ATV has been identified as Avery Goggans, 42 He has been charged with DUI, serious injury by vehicle, reckless driving, possession of marijuana and several other traffic charges.

One big question that remains is who exactly were the “disruptors,” “agitators,” and “anarchists” that this weekend’s looting, vandalism, arson, and violence was blamed on by law enforcement, officials, and the media?

Mayor Bottoms said the weekend’s violence was not protest, but chaos orchestrated by “disruptors” and “anarchists” who came to “destroy this city.”

Similarly, APD Chief Erika Shields called those who incited violence a “highly calculated terrorist organization” embedded inside peaceful protests.

“We know the organizers of protests in the city, but we didn’t know these people and the organizers didn’t know them either. These people weren’t here to fight for civil rights, they were here to destroy Atlanta.”

Former Ambassador Andrew Young said in an interview with WSB-TV on Sunday that agitators from white supremacist groups, far-right extremists, and ANTIFA (now labeled a domestic terror organization by the United States) had come to the city to create chaos and division. “The destruction I saw are not people from Atlanta,” Young said. “They have to be run out of town.”

Media on the ground witnessed protesters arriving and leaving flashpoints with out-of-state or obscured license plates. Social media was buzzing, not only in Atlanta but around the country, that agitators were embedding themselves into peaceful protests then committing many of the acts of looting, vandalism, and arson. Loud fireworks and incendiary devices launched into crowds and at police appeared designed to scare and agitate the situation.

Comments on INtown’s own social media platforms suggested that many of the agitators were white people dressed in black and wearing face coverings.

Around 150 to 200 vehicles — many with obscured or out-of-state license plates — were peacefully “escorted” by police away from Perimeter Mall area early on May 30 as rioters looted malls and shopping centers in Buckhead.

Dunwoody Police spokesperson Sgt. Robert Parsons said many of the vehicles were “packed with multiple occupants” and had covered-up or missing license plates. Among the vehicles with visible tags, “almost all of them were from out of state,” Parsons said.

Minnesota officials blamed outsiders for the violent protests in Minneapolis, where George Floyd was murdered, but later walked back the statements after it was shown most of those arrested were from Minnesota.

Collin Kelley

Collin Kelley is the editor of Atlanta Intown.