Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed reemphasized the public’s 1st Amendment right to assemble and air their grievances, which they did to the tune of about 1,500 people in downtown Atlanta on Friday. But he also praised the professionalism and restraint shown by the Atlanta-area police as the demonstrators marched as inspired by the deaths of black men Alton Sterling in Baton Rouge, La., and Philando Castile in suburban Minneapolis on back-to-back nights this past week.
“I think that the Atlanta Police Department and our partners at the Georgia State Patrol did an exceptional job in terms of being restrained and disciplined while allowing individuals to express the frustration that many people are feeling right now,” the mayor said of protests against police brutality on Thursday.
Tensions between blacks and police were exacerbated in the wake of the killing of in Dallas (12 were shot overall), and the hanging of a black man in the heavily trafficked Piedmont Park.
Reed, however, implored demonstrators to not to block the freeways again and not to repeat untruths on social media.
Demonstrators marched from the Civic Center to Piedmont Park on Thursday night in a show of peaceful unity that went off without incident, said Reed, at a public safety briefing at police headquarters downtown on Friday afternoon.
“We have reviewed our video cameras, we have spoken to a number of individuals and we have not found any evidence that the KKK was in Piedmont Park distributing materials,” said Reed.
Reed admonished people on social media “to be honest, and accurate and care about what you’re putting out.”
“To the young folks out there who have been on social media, I’m a black man too. I know what it is to be a black man. But it doesn’t mean that you take your frustrations out by harming other people. It does mean it is perfectly fine to make a demand for fairness and equal treatment of black citizens who are being disproportionately impacted in a particular manner that relates to the likelihood of a black person dying in an interaction with law enforcement,” said Reed.