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An Atlanta police officer captured on video calmly speaking with protesters is being lauded for how he handled a tense situation.
The now-viral video is being praised as a step towards healing amid the anger and frustration over the death of an unarmed Minneapolis man, George Floyd, while in police custody. The Atlanta officer in the video found common ground with a protester, noting how his own family is affected by the issue.
“I do, alright, I have a son who’s 31, I have a son who’s 15, alright, and I have to have these conversations with him all the time,” the man identified by WXIA-TV as Officer Z. Murphy said, standing along with fellow officers in the midst of the crowd.
“So we’re not telling you all to leave. What was going on up here was wrong, that’s why we brought it to a stop. The loudspeaker, the yakking, and the yapping – we said pause,” Murphy explained.
“We said pause, let these people remain here, let them stay on the street, let them express their grievances because you have a right to be pissed off,” he added.
“Over there, they don’t feel the same way,” the protester he had been speaking with countered.
“That’s why I told them to shut the f*** up,” Murphy replied, getting shouts of approval from the crowd.
When another one of the demonstrators told Murphy he needed to give some of his positive energy to his fellow officers, he replied: “One at a time, my brother, one at a time.”
While Georgia’s protests over Floyd’s death had been largely peaceful, with demonstrations and marches to the state Capitol, things took a turn later throughout downtown Atlanta, and other parts of the city. Protesters descended on the CNN headquarters and started smashing doors, while other incidents that began to turn to vandalism and violence prompted Gov. Brian Kemp to issue a State of Emergency and deploy the National Guard.
They will deploy immediately to assist @ga_dps, @GaDNRLE, @GA_Corrections & local law enforcement who are working tirelessly to subdue unlawful activity & restore peace. We will continue to make all state resources available to local leaders during this emergency situation. (2/2)
— Governor Brian P. Kemp (@GovKemp) May 30, 2020
Meanwhile, attempts by those who, like Officer Murphy, were displaying empathy and seeking to diffuse tense situations captured much attention. Atlanta Police Chief Erika Shields was praised for engaging with protesters and listening to their complaints as she walked in the same crowd where Murphy was.
The chief of police in Atl is talking to everyone in the crowd at the protest She says she wants to see a change too and is disgusted by everything that happened. She sent away a white officer we told her was being an asshole. She’s listening to every person that wants to talk pic.twitter.com/vz473t1kHC
— Lilly – BLACK LIVES MATTER (@joonhopekook) May 29, 2020
This is the kind of police chief I want… One who speaks the truth. Atlanta Police Chief Erika Shields being open & honest on live TV w/ #CBS46 about what happened in Minneapolis #JusticeForGeorge pic.twitter.com/Ij7SAI5A1x
— Emily Gagnon (@Emily_Gagnon) May 30, 2020
Meanwhile in Texas, Chief of the Dallas Police Department Reneé Hall was also earning praise for her calm encounter with a protester after officers were reportedly hit with rocks.
This Dallas Police Chief just stopped a rioter in his tracks and told him and others to stop attacking police: pic.twitter.com/qu8YWEZi9m
— Caleb Hull (@CalebJHull) May 30, 2020
“We’re giving you the street. We’re giving you the sidewalk…we’re not telling you to move,” Hall told a protester in a video. “You can’t hit my folks… Somebody threw a rock at my officer. Don’t do that.”
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