Atlanta mayor speaks with protesters as a mother of four Black children

“And when I saw the murder of George Floyd, I hurt like a mother would hurt.”

In an impassioned speech, Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms, a former judge and city councillor, urged protesters to stop destroying property and the CNN building after hours of peaceful protests erupted into vandalism and looting on the streets of Atlanta on Friday night. She pleaded with agitators to stop burning down their community and to “go home,” because she couldn’t protect them. 

She began by saying: “Let me just speak to what’s happening here today — 

Above everything else, I’m a mother. I am a mother to four Black children in America, one of whom is 18 years old. And when I saw the murder of George Floyd, I hurt like a mother would hurt. And yesterday when I heard the rumours about violent protests in Atlanta, I did what a mother would do. I called my son and I said, “Where are you?” I said, “I cannot protect you and Black boys shouldn’t be out today.” So you’re not going to out-concern me and out-care about where we are in America. I wear this each and every day, and I pray over my children, each and every day. 

So, what I see happening on the streets of Atlanta is not Atlanta. This is not a protest. This is not in the spirit of Martin Luther King, Jr. This is chaos. A protest has purpose. When Dr. King was assassinated we didn’t do this to our city. So if you love this city, this city, that has had a legacy of Black mayors and Black police chiefs, and people who care about this city, where more than 50 per cent of business owners in metro Atlanta are minority business owners. 

If you care about this city then go home. And pray that somebody like Reverend Beasley will come and talk to you and give you some instructions on what a protest should look like, and how you effectuate change in America. This police chief (Atlanta Police Chief Erika Shields, who was standing behind her) made a video on yesterday — pull it up on YouTube — where she said she was appalled to watch the murder of George Floyd. This woman did that. 

You’re not honouring the legacy of Martin Luther King, Jr. and the civil rights movement. You’re not protesting anything, running out with brown liquor in your hand, breaking windows in this city. 

TI (@tip) and Killer Mike (@killermike) own half the West Side. So when you burn down this city, you’re burning down our community. If you want change in America, go and register to vote. Show up at the polls on June 9. Do it in November. That is the change we need in this country. You are disgracing our city. You are disgracing the life of George Floyd and every other person who has been killed in this country. We are better than this. We are better than this as a city. We’re better than this as a country. Go home. Go home. 

And the same way I couldn’t protect my son yesterday, I cannot protect you out in those streets. You’re throwing knives at our police officers. You are burning cars. You have defaced the CNN building. Ted Turner started CNN in Atlanta 40 years ago, because he believed in who we are as a city. There was a Black reporter who was arrested on camera this morning who works for CNN. They are telling our stories, and you are disgracing their building. 

This is not the legacy of civil rights in America. This is chaos and we’re buying into it. This won’t change anything. We’re no longer talking about the murder of an innocent man. We’re talking about how you’re burning police cars on the streets of Atlanta, Georgia. Go home.

Watch a video of the speech on CNN

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