DOWNTOWN: Armed man spurred decision to end Occupy Atlanta | News
ATLANTA -- Scores of Atlanta police officers in moved in overnight -- some clad in riot gear, some on horseback, all under orders to clear the park of protesters. The order came from Mayor Kasim Reed, who says the last straw was a man walking around Woodruff Park Tuesday afternoon carrying an assault rifle.
11Alive's Jaye Watson spoke to the man, who declined to identify himself. "(The gun is) a symbol of the last line of resistance against a government that's going to try to push people out because of their ideals," he said. The man told Watson the weapon was a semi-automatic version of the AK-47. Such weapons are legal in Georgia.
Reed says the man was seen near former Atlanta Mayor Andrew Young, who was in the park at the same time Tuesday. Reed says the presence of the assault rifle appeared to represent a more aggressive outlook among some of those encamped at Woodruff Park. So Reed ordered the overnight arrests and barricade of the park.
By morning, 53 defendants were packed into a courtroom, charged with a municipal violation requiring only a signature bond for release from jail. The incarceration was almost beside the point. The city's interest was to end the occupation of Woodruff Park.
"By every measure, from the way they treated people from my administration, to things that they said on camera, to having a man with an AK47 accompany a leader that came to a press conference that I met with, all put us on a trajectory toward something bad," Reed said.