Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp on Monday issued an executive order declaring a State of Emergency across Georgia and authorizes the activation of as many as 1,000 Georgia National Guard troops.
According to a news release from the governor’s office, the decision follows weeks of “dramatically increased violent crime and property destruction in the City of Atlanta.” Over the Fourth of July weekend, Kemp’s office said, over 30 Georgians were wounded by gunfire, including five people who were killed.
“Peaceful protests were hijacked by criminals with a dangerous, destructive agenda. Now, innocent Georgians are being targeted, shot, and left for dead,” Kemp was quoted as saying in the news release.
Protesters caused extensive damage to the Georgia State Patrol headquarters in Atlanta early Sunday by sparking flames inside the building with fireworks, breaking windows and spraying graffiti, the agency said.
Department of Public Safety workers put out the fire, and two employees were treated for smoke inhalation, Georgia State Patrol Lt. Stephanie Stallings said in a statement. One of the agency’s vehicles parked in front of the building also was damaged.
Video showed several dozen people outside and the sound of drums being played in the background. Smoke could be seen through a glass window of the building after a red flash was seen inside.
As many as 100 people dressed in dark clothing and wearing masks were outside the building, Stallings said. The incident was under investigation and no arrests had been made, the statement said.
Adding to the violence, the shooting death of an 8-year-old girl has prompted a $10,000 reward for information as authorities in Atlanta search for at least two people who opened fire on the car she was riding in.
Police identified the girl as Secoriea Turner, and say she was in a car whose driver tried to get through an illegal barricade placed near the Wendy’s restaurant where Rayshard Brooks was killed by an officer on June 12. The area has become a site for frequent demonstrations.
Hours later, three other people were reportedly shot, one of them fatally.
The Associated Press contributed to this report