A video that went viral on social media that users claimed showed a “child militia” at Lenox Mall in Atlanta, Georgia, really shows adult members of the Georgia National Guard, according to the Atlanta Police Department.
John Chafee from the Atlanta Police Department’s Public Affairs Office confirmed to Heavy via e-mail that the viral video shows adult members of the Georgia National Guard, not children. “The picture you provided…depicts adult members of the Georgia National Guard,” he wrote.
“To become a service member in the Georgia National Guard you are required to be of legal age and that is 18 years old (17 with parents consent),” the Georgia National Guard wrote in a statement. “The rumors of us having child Soldiers to assist local law enforcement in protecting lives and property is false.”
Protests demanding justice following the death of George Floyd turned violent in Atlanta, Georgia, on Friday night. Riots continued into the early morning hours with people smashing into the Target at Lenox Mall and looting the luxury Phipps Plaza in Buckhead.
During this time of unrest, the disturbing video was shared on Twitter. The video, shared by user @foxwoundband, was posted at 2:12 a.m. local time in Atlanta and quickly garnered nearly 2 million views. Heavy has also reached out to the online user for more details surrounding the video. “Atlanta has deployed a child militia at Lenox Mall fitted with riot shields and batons. What the actual f*ck is going on?” the Twitter user wrote.
Warning: The video below contains explicit language.
The Lenox Mall had become an incredibly dangerous area on Friday evening. An hour before the video was posted, Atlanta Fire Rescue tweeted that they had reported to Lenox Mall to put out a fire set by protestors at Del Frisco’s Grille, which is located across the street from the location.
Chicago Alderman Carlos Ramirez-Rosa also shared a similar video on Twitter. The video was originally posted on social media by @young.jafar5. After these videos went viral, the term “Hitler Youth” started trending on Twitter.
Earlier in the evening, Georgia Governor Brian Kemp, in tandem with Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms, ordered Fulton County to be in an official State of Emergency and announced that they would be deploying 500 of Georgia’s National Guard “to protect people & property in Atlanta” and “make all state resources available to local leaders during this emergency situation.
During a press conference on Friday night, Lance Bottoms said, “What I see happening on the streets of Atlanta is not Atlanta. This is not a protest. This is not in the spirit of Martin Luther King, Jr. This is chaos.”
“A protest has purpose,” Lance Bottoms continued. “When Dr. King was assassinated, we didn’t do this to our city. If you want change in America, go and register to vote. … That is the change we need in this country.”
Protesters in Atlanta Smashed the Windows of the CNN Center & Set Fire to Cop Cars
While the planned protest in Atlanta started out as peaceful on May 29, after protesters moved from Centennial Park toward the city’s CNN Center, things turned violent. People were seen vandalizing CNN’s logo and smashing the windows of the front entrance.
Lance Bottoms spoke directly to the protesters in her city during a news conference Friday evening. She said, “You have defaced the CNN building. Ted Turner started CNN in Atlanta, 40 years ago because he believed in who we are as a city.”
Violent Protests & Looting Took Place in Multiple Major Cities Across America on Friday Night
On May 29, people gathered outside in Washington, D.C., Louisville, Los Angeles, New York, Denver, Pheonix, Memphis and Columbus in reaction to the death of Floyd, a black man killed in Minneapolis after a police officer, Derek Chauvin, knelt on his neck while three other officers stood by watching.
The harrowing scene led Minnesota Governor Tim Walz to give a press conference in the early hours of Saturday morning. Walz pleaded for protesters to go home and announced that 1,700 soldiers from the National Guard would be deployed in Minneapolis by Sunday to help cease the unrest in the city.