By Joe Johnson
After an afternoon of peaceful protest in downtown Athens against the recent killing of an unarmed black man while in the custody of police in Minneapolis, the county Sunday night declared the city was in a state of emergency and imposed a 9 p.m. to 5 a.m. curfew.
The curfew began at 9 p.m., but the county did not announce it until 9:35 p.m.
The emergency order cited undisclosed safety concern for the curfew.
Protesters gather at College Square at 5 p.m., and after a series of speeches, by local officials that included Mayor Kelly Girtz and county Commissioner Mariah Parker with attendees chanting slogans and holding signs condemning Monday's killing of George Floyd, the Athens protesters made their way to the Athens-Clarke County Courthouse.
Prior to that there was a commotion in the crowd about a man possibly pulling a gun.
A group of white men with assault-type rifles strapped across their chests made an appearance, claiming they were there in support of the Black Lives Matter movement.
The Emergency order reads as follows:
WHEREAS, concerned individuals in communities across the nation have gathered to honor the life of George Floyd, demand justice for his death, and march in solidarity; and
WHEREAS, community leaders across the nation have urged peaceful assemblies to ensure the lawful exercise of citizens’ constitutional rights; and
WHEREAS, on May 29, 2020, Governor Kemp issued an Executive Order declaring a State of Emergency in Fulton County related to the need to guard against violence and lawlessness which threatened the public safety and private property following the peaceful assembling of individuals in Fulton County which resulted in other persons inciting violence and lawlessness; and
WHEREAS, on May 29, 2020, Governor Kemp issued an Executive Order adding all Georgia counties to the State of Emergency declared on May 29 in Fulton County due to the threat of unlawful assemblage and the threat of violence and property damage; and
WHEREAS, on the afternoon of Sunday , May 31, 2020, concerned individuals from Athens-Clarke County and surrounding communities gathered in downtown Athens to honor the life of George Floyd, demand justice for his death, and march in solidarity; and
WHEREAS, despite the initial peaceful assembly of concerned individuals in downtown Athens, circumstances have arisen which raise concern about the need to guard against other persons inciting violence and lawlessness which would threaten public safety and private property; and
WHEREAS, after consultation between officials of the Unified Government of Athens-Clarke County, Georgia, officials of the University of Georgia, public safety officials, and emergency preparedness officials, it has been determined that the following actions are necessary and appropriate to protect public peace and provide for the safety and welfare of the residents of the Unified Government of Athens-Clarke County, visitors, and private property.
NOW, THEREFORE, pursuant to the authority vested in me as Manager of Athens-Clarke County by Chapter 3-4 entitled "Emergencies " of the Code of Athens-Clark County, Georgia;
IT IS HEREBY ORDERED that because of the threat of violence, overt threats of violence, disruption of the peace and tranquility of the Unified Government of Athens-Clarke County, Georgia, and danger existing to persons and property, a State of Emergency is declared for the Unified Government of Athens-Clarke County, Georgia.
IT IS FURTHER ORDERED that the Athens-Clarke County Office of Emergency Management activates the Emergency Operations Plan.
IT IS FURTHER ORDERED that a curfew shall be implemented in the territorial limits of the Unified Government of Athens-Clarke County, Georgia from 9:00 p.m. on Sunday, May 31, 2020, thru 5:00 a.m. on Monday, June 1, 2020.
IT IS FURTHER ORDERED that access shall be closed to the following area located within the territorial limits of the Unified Government of Athens-Clarke County, Georgia: Downtown Development Authority District
IT IS FURTHER ORDERED that such Local Emergency shall expire forty-eight (48) hours after its issuance unless renewed by the Manager or the Mayor and Commission.
This 31 Day of May 2020