Protests over the death of George Floyd, who was suffocated by former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin (who is now facing third-degree murder charges) earlier this week, continued Friday with massive demonstrations in Atlanta, New York, Houston and elsewhere. The chaos in Atlanta Friday night included the destruction of buildings and widespread looting with the College Football Hall of Fame among several area businesses in the line of fire.
“There has been looting at the College Football Hall of Fame,” Sargent John Chafee of the Atlanta PD confirmed in a statement Saturday morning. “We are grateful for the assistance being provided by multiple local and state law enforcement partners as we work to minimize the damage being caused by these individuals and to restore order in our city." The Hall of Fame, which moved from its South Bend, Indiana location to a new $68.5-million facility in downtown Atlanta six years ago, was among many local landmarks damaged with CNN headquarters also vandalized during Friday night’s protests.
“We are heartbroken to see the damage to our city and the Hall of Fame,” expressed Kimberly Beaudin, who serves as the Hall of Fame’s CEO. "In the coming days and weeks, we'll work to pick up the pieces to rebuild the sacred walls that housed memories and honored those who played the game, many of whom fought these same injustices throughout their storied careers.” According to ESPN’s Mark Schlabach, the building’s front windows were shattered as looters ransacked the Hall of Fame’s gift shop, though it wasn’t “immediately” clear if the museum itself was damaged during the riots.
Demonstrators protesting Floyd’s death as well as Breona Taylor’s fatal shooting at the hands of Louisville police earlier this year have spread in rapid succession with movements sprouting in many of the nation’s largest cities including Detroit, Los Angeles, Oakland, Portland, Seattle and Washington D.C. A number of sports figures including Stephen Jackson (Floyd’s close friend), Joe Burrow, Colin Kaepernick and Miami Dolphins head coach Brian Flores have lent their support, condemning police brutality and systemic racism. “I lead a group of young men who have the potential to make a real impact in this world,” said Flores, one of just three African American head coaches in the NFL, in a statement posted to the Dolphins’ Twitter account Friday. “I hope that the tragedies of the last few weeks will open our hearts and minds to a better way of communicating and hopefully create that change.”