The governor of Georgia on Monday declared a state of emergency and authorised the activation of up to 1,000 United States National Guard troops after a weekend of violence in Atlanta left five people dead, including an eight-year-old girl.
A statement from Governor Brian Kemp’s office says troops will provide support at certain locations including the state’s Capitol and governor’s mansion, freeing up state law enforcement resources to patrol other areas.
“Peaceful protests were hijacked by criminals with a dangerous, destructive agenda. Now, innocent Georgians are being targeted, shot, and left for dead,” the Republican governor said. “This lawlessness must be stopped and order restored in our capital city.”
Saturday night’s fatal shooting of Secoriea Turner, age eight, prompted a $10,000 reward for information as authorities searched for at least two people who opened fire on the car in which she was riding near a flashpoint of recent protests.
Officers returned to the scene late Sunday to investigate another shooting, steps away from where Secoriea was shot, that left one person dead at the scene and two others injured.
Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms called for justice in Secoriea’s death during an emotional news conference Sunday with the girl’s grief-stricken mother.
“You can’t blame this on a police officer,” the mayor said. “You can’t say this about criminal justice reform. This is about some people carrying some weapons who shot up a car with an eight-year-old baby in the car for what?”
“Enough is enough,” said Bottoms, who is Black and announced late on Monday that she has tested positive for COVID-19. “If you want people to take us seriously and you don’t want us to lose this movement, we can’t lose each other.”
COVID-19 has literally hit home. I have had NO symptoms and have tested positive.
— Keisha Lance Bottoms (@KeishaBottoms) July 6, 2020
The killing happened near the Wendy’s restaurant where a Black man, Rayshard Brooks, was killed by a white police officer June 12. The fast food outlet was later burned, and the area has since become a site for frequent demonstrations against police brutality.
Secoriea was slain during a particularly violent night in Atlanta on Saturday. Kemp’s office said that over 30 people were wounded by gunfire, including five who died, over the holiday weekend.
Kemp’s order says the declaration of a state of emergency is justified by “unlawful assemblage, violence, overt threats of violence, disruption of the peace and tranquility of this state and danger existing to persons and property”. The order is to remain in effect until at least June 13.
This recent trend of lawlessness is outrageous unacceptable. Georgians, including those in uniform, need to be protected from crime violence. While we stand ready to assist local leaders in restoring peace maintaining order, we won’t hesitate to take action without them. https://t.co/NTacEm4v7o
— Governor Brian P Kemp (@GovKemp) July 6, 2020
Authorities said Secoriea was in the car with her mother and another adult when the driver tried to drive through illegally placed barricades to get to a car park in the area. Armed individuals blocking the entrance opened fire on the vehicle, striking it multiple times and killing the child, police said.
“She was only eight years old,” said her mother, Charmaine Turner. “She would have been on TikTok dancing on her phone, just got done eating. We understand the frustration of Rayshard Brooks. We didn’t have anything to do with that. We’re innocent. My baby didn’t mean no harm.”
The girl just wanted to get home to see her cousins, said her father, Secoriya Williamson.
“They say Black lives matter,” he said. “You killed your own.”