I arrived to the CNN center around 6:00 pm where a huge amount of people had gathered to protest against the killings of George Floyd, Ahmad Arbery and the many other black Americans that have been murdered at the hands of the police. This was apparently after they had marched for awhile through the streets of Atlanta.
I walked through the crowd with my camera, processing the event unfolding in front of me, scoping for an opportunity to capture a good photo. The crowd is emotional, disorganized and anxious. A couple people suddenly start running in one direction
as if someone pulled out a gun. “Stop Running!” someone yells, the running stops. It was at this moment that I realized this protest has the potential to turn dangerous.
Bottles and rocks are hurled at the CNN building causing cracks to appear in the heavily reinforced windows. A swarm of geared cops run over to the entrance of the building blocking anyone from getting to close. A standoff occurs at the entrance, somewhere in the back of the crowd protesters continue to throw bottles and rocks at the CNN building sometimes hitting the cops standing to guard the entrance. Each time one of the reinforced windows breaks the crowd cheers, everyone seems to be on the same accord, fuck the police.
Something breaks in the distance behind us, the crowds attention turns towards the street where the police cars are parked. Someone kicked a police car. The mob attention quickly shifts from the CNN building to the police cars. People use whatever obstacle they can to destroy at least 7 police cars. Everyone was on the same accord, fuck the police.
One police car begins to catch fire,”Back Up! It’s Gonna Explode”, someone yells. The protesters scatter scared the oil in the car might catch on fire and explode. The cops formed a line and begin to walk and push protesters off of Centennial and towards Marietta St, away from the damaged cars. The cops stop before they get to the burning car. Protesters stand on one side of the car while cops stand on the other, the air is filled with smoke, everyone watches the inferno, time seems to stand still.
The moment passes, the angry protesters continue down Marietta St and begin to attack the CNN center from another direction as well as a upscale restaurant. The windows shatters, the looting begins. Bottles for everyone, “Everyone take a shot from a bottle”.
“Does anyone need a medic”, “Put your mask on”