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Georgia’s state of emergency and National Guard call-up: What we know

Published: Jul. 7, 2020 at 6:02 AM EDT
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Georgia is under a state of emergency this morning after a violent holiday weekend, with Gov. Brian Kemp activating 1,000 National Guard troops under a new executive order signed Monday.

Although the order followed a spike in violent crime over the Fourth of July weekend, recent protests calling for police reform and racial justice played a large part in the executive order.

Here’s a look at what’s in the order:

Where will the troops be?

The troops will be deployed as needed to protect state buildings, including the state Capitol, the Georgia Department Of Public Safety headquarters, the Governor's Mansion and the Georgia World Congress Center.

What will the soldiers do?

Kemp says the troops will “provide support at state buildings.” He says this will allow state law enforcement personnel to increase patrols on roadways and throughout communities, especially in Atlanta.

His order says:

  • He has the authority to empower the Georgia National Guard to subdue riot and unlawful assembly as well as apprehend and arrest people when the troops are called to active duty to respond to emergencies.
  • He has the authority to order or direct anyone to do any act or act or refrain from any act that would, in his opinion, prevent danger to life, limb or property or prevent a breach of peace.
  • He has the authority to call out the Guard and direct the forces as well as law enforcement agencies to take action that in his judgment is necessary to avert threatened danger and to maintain peace and good order.
  • The soldiers “shall have the same powers of arrest and apprehension as do law enforcement officers.” The order says those powers are to be “exercised with caution and only if the circumstances demand the exercise of such powers to protect the safety of persons or property.”

What is the justification for the order?

His order says that:

  • In Atlanta and Fulton County, “thousands of people have peacefully protested, but sadly, these gatherings have been infiltrated by some with a dangerous, destructive agenda.”
  • For more than two months, Atlanta “has grappled with countless threats to public safety with riots, extensive property destruction, and human injury in multiple communities.”
  • There has been a dramatic increase in violent crime in Georgia’s capital city.
  • During the Fourth of July weekend, there were more than 30 gunshot victims across Atlanta, with at least five deaths, including two near where Rayshard Brooks was killed by an Atlanta police officer on June 12. He says that at that location, “city officials have failed to quell ongoing violence with armed individuals threatening citizens, shooting as passersby, blocking streets, destroying local businesses, and defying orders to disperse.”
  • On Sunday morning, 60-100 people targeted the Georgia Department of Public Safety headquarters on United Avenue, breaking windows, vandalizing state property and trying to set the building on fire.
  • “Criminals are now victimizing Georgians to inflict chaos, cause fear among residents, and thwart law enforcement.”
  • “That because of unlawful assemblage, violence, overt threats of violence, disruption of the peace and tranquility of this state and danger existing to persons and property, a State of Emergency is declared.”

How long does the state of emergency last?

It will expire at 11:59 p.m. July 13 unless extended by Kemp.

The order also states that if it’s found in violation of the Georgia Constitution or unenforceable, it will be void.

Read the order for yourself:

Copyright 2020 WRDW/WAGT. All rights reserved.

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