On Friday May 29, 2020, organizers for #AtlForUs intended a peaceful protest and march to the Georgia State Capitol in Atlanta. The plan was to meet downtown at Centennial Olympic Park around 3 p.m., rally up, then begin the march to the Capitol at 3:45 p.m.
At 4:20 p.m., the crowd held a brief moment of silence, then began marching back to Centennial Olympic Park around 5:30 p.m.
What was intended to be a civil, socially distant march metamorphosed into something else entirely in front of the CNN center, where someone threw a brick through a window, loudly shattering the building’s thick glass.
Law enforcement officers apparently boxed off the entrance to the best of their abilities, but the numbers eventually overwhelmed them. Eventually, people poured in and began looting.
A little after 6:30 p.m., the shatter was heard ’round the city as people either took off to their homes or stayed. What followed thereafter became a night of chaos, violence, tear gas and fire – but more importantly felt – of utter rage and despair.
The city was loud with burglary and fire alarms alike going off, people screaming, gun shots firing into the sky and shouts of protest and tear gas grenades hissing.
By about 12:10 a.m., the streets were clear of many rioters; the fires, extinguished. Every now and then you’d hear another thundering shatter of glass, an after-effect of broken building windows.
An ambulance siren or law enforcement horn would ring about twice an hour, but for the most part, Atlanta could sleep.
Though the rioters and looters were an unintended consequence from the protest itself, at least this much is ensured: Not only were they heard – loud and clear – but they were felt, too.