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Police fire tear gas at protestors in Athens, Georgia just after midnight on Monday, June 1, 2020. (Photo/Taylor Gerlach)

Police used tear gas to disperse about 100 protesters at the Arch in downtown Athens around midnight on May 31.

The group was the remnants of an anti-police brutality protest that drew several hundred people and began to thin out around 7 p.m., after two hours of marching and chanting through downtown.

Athens-Clarke County instituted a 9 p.m. curfew around 9:45 p.m. and restricted access to downtown. Roadblocks on Clayton, Lumpkin and Thomas Streets remained from earlier in the evening, and police dressed in riot gear blocked off the entrances to North Campus.

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Protestors sit on the sidewalk and road on Broad Street in Athens, Georgia on Sunday, May 31, 2020. Protestors marched around downtown Athens, chanted slogans, shared personal stories and set up two tents. (Photo/Taylor Gerlach)

Protesters remained in the intersection of Broad Street and College Avenue. Around midnight, an ACC Police Department drone hovered over the protesters and, citing the curfew, ordered them to disperse.

“You may be arrested and criminally charged. There is potential that force may be used against you during arrest,” the prerecorded message announced.

While some protesters left the scene, most remained, forming a square in the road, before police advanced down Clayton Street, firing tear gas canisters.

At least six people were arrested after refusing to leave the scene. Most protesters fled the scene.

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Protestors walk past armed police in riot gear on Broad Street in Athens, Georgia just after midnight on Monday, June 1, 2020. (Photo/Taylor Gerlach)

On scene were ACC police, National Guard troops and state police armed with riot gear and armored vehicles.

Before the dispersal, protester Rachelle Berry said she was there to support the remaining protesters with resources such as water, eye wash and access to legal support.

“I am in solidarity with anybody who feels they need to be out here and not leave here until our demands are met. Which is a world without cops,” Berry said. Berry acknowledged that goal would “not be achieved tonight,” but spoke about her support for District 2 Commissioner Mariah Parker’s proposal to reduce ACCPD officer positions by 50%.

The protesters were peaceful and did not damage any property except for spray painting graffiti on the Confederate Monument that stands in the middle of Broad Street.

“There’s no reason for them to remove us. They blocked off the street, there’s no cars coming,” Berry said. “They’re only trying to remove us because they want order, not peace. They don’t want the end of violence, they just want an ordered city.”

Correction: A previous version of this article stated that there was no property damage after protests on Sunday night. The Soldier's Monument on Broad Street was spray painted with graffiti. 

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(2) comments


There is a great deal of evidence that civilian police in the U.S. are and have been sent to a foreign country for training or indoctrination into tactics which are in fact appropriate only for military situations not civilian ones. Many police departments and citizens are lodging complaints about such programs for their local police officers. There are claims such programs lead to many examples of excessive force in local cities and towns of America. Here is one article of many: https://progressive.org/dispatches/us-police-trained-by-israel-communities-of-color-paying-price-shahshahani-cohen-191007/ Quote: ”Activists in Georgia are pushing for an end to Atlanta’s police exchange program. Seventy local organizations and leaders—including our organizations, Jewish Voice for Peace-Atlanta and Project South—are demanding that Atlanta get out of these deadly police exchanges. Among other objections, activists point to Israel’s clear record of human rights abuses and state violence toward Palestinians, Jews of color, and African refugees. According to the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, 2018 brought a 69 percent increase over the previous year in Israeli settler violence toward Palestinians, and a rise in Palestinian deaths and injuries in Gaza. In the year since 2018 Great March of Return demonstrations began, more than 190 Palestinians were killed and 28,000 were injured by Israeli Forces.”


Rachelle Berry, graduate student in the UGA Geology school, wants a world with no cops. How about a world with no crime? Students are being raped, robbed, and attacked in Athen. So let's get rid of the police and everything will be ok? I would like to understand her plans on how this utopia might happen.... I don't think the intent of the protest is to abolish the police. It is about black lives matter, police not abusing their power, and ending systemic racism.

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