Atlanta, GA – Violent protesters vandalized and burned the Georgia State Police’s headquarters in Atlanta early Sunday morning.
The Georgia Department of Public Safety (DPS) said that a group of 60 to 100 masked “protesters” descended on their headquarters on United Avenue just after 1 a.m. on July 5 with bricks and incendiary devices, WSB reported.
“They were armed with bricks, landscaping bricks, Molotov cocktails, fireworks. Their one mission was to destruct property and that is exactly what they did,” Georgia State Police Spokeswoman Lieutenant Stephanie L. Stallings told reporters as workers boarded up smashed windows the next day.
A neighbor told WSB that she could hear the mob as they marched down her street.
“I heard the glass shatter, plate glass shatter, one of the offices. I saw one that seemed to be glowing from the inside, then I saw somebody carrying a flaming object and then threw it into a newly broken window and explode,” Kimberly Krautter said.
In addition to Molotov cocktails, troopers said fireworks were released inside the building and caused extensive damage, WSB reported.
“Fireworks were thrown through one of the windows, causing a small fire in one of the offices,” Lt. Stallings told reporters, according to ABC News.
Two DPS employees were in the building and rushed to put out the fire.
Both had to be transported to the hospital and required treatment for smoke inhalation, ABC News reported.
Investigators said protesters broke the windows all over the building and also trashed patrol cars parked nearby, WSB reported.
Protesters armed with spray paint vandalized the front of the headquarters with “KKK” and “Death by Oppression.”
“They were militant in their actions,” Lt. Stallings said. “They came to do nothing but destroy property and that’s exactly what they did.”
More than a dozen GBI investigators are here outside Georgia State Patrol HQ in SE Atlanta where there is significant damage. Windows are smashed and that's not even the extent of the damage. Working to learn more and will have an update at 6am on Channel 2. pic.twitter.com/KT0JdVE97t
— Lauren Pozen WSB (@LaurenPozenWSB) July 5, 2020
Georgia Department of Public Safety building was vandalized over night. Troopers say around 1am, a group of protesters approached headquarters – armed with rocks and spray paint and went on to cause extensive damage. Live report in under 9 mins from the scene. pic.twitter.com/lJYMIFj9Du
— Lauren Pozen WSB (@LaurenPozenWSB) July 5, 2020
The building is home to several state agencies in addition to the Georgia State Police, WSB reported.
The vandalism comes on the heels of several weeks of protests in Georgia’s capital city following the fatal officer-involved shooting of Rayshard Brooks in a Wendy’s parking lot on June 12.
Atlanta police officers began calling off work sick en masse after Fulton County District Attorney Paul Howard charged former Atlanta Police Officer Garrett Rolfe with murder on June 17.
Former Officer Rolfe surrendered to the authorities on charges that included felony murder on June 18 and was released on $500,000 bond on June 30.
The other officer involved in the incident, Atlanta Police Officer Devin Brosnan, also turned himself in the same day but was quickly released on a $50,000 signature bond.
The shooting occurred after officers responded to a call for a man asleep in the Wendy’s drive-thru late on June 12.
Officers administered a field sobriety test and established probable cause to arrest Brooks, but when they went to put the suspect in handcuffs, the previously-calm man attacked them.
Brooks stole Atlanta Police Officer Devin Brosnan’s Taser, tased the officer, and then fled with the weapon in hand.
Former Atlanta Police Officer Garrett Rolfe pursued Brooks on foot with his own Taser in hand, until Brooks turned back and fired his Taser at Officer Rolfe.
That’s when Officer Rolfe dropped his Taser, drew his pistol, and fatally shot Brooks.
On June 17, Howard held a press conference to announce he was charging former Officer Rolfe with murder for the fatal shooting of Brooks after Brooks discharged Officer Brosnan’s Taser at Officer Rolfe.
The district attorney also announced at his press conference on June 17 that Officer Brosnan was facing three felony charges.
But Howard bragged that Officer Brosnan had turned state’s witness to testify against former Officer Rolfe and implied the Georgia Bureau of Investigation (GBI) had blessed the charges.
Neither was true. And Atlanta police officers reacted by calling out sick or sitting inside station houses rather than patrolling the city.
The mayor and the police department initially tried to claim that there was no “Blue Flu” happening in Atlanta but eventually had to concede that a higher number of officers were calling in sick than was usual.
The majority of the officers who called in sick were supposed to be working in Zone 5, the area downtown where George Floyd riots occurred, WSB reported.
There were multiple shootings and reports of residents in the area being terrorized by violent protesters near the burned-down Wendy’s where Brooks was shot and no police to be found in that area.
“The city’s response, I recall early on, seems like they downplayed those numbers,” retired Atlanta police Detective Vince Velasquez said. “The public should know that’s a significant amount of police officers who did not come to work during that time period.”