Friday night, aflame.

Friday, May 29th, 2020

Tonight Atlanta joined other US cities in tipping over from mostly peaceful protest to rage, and late Friday evening, it’s too early to reliably say why that shift happened.

I can tell you that the protests earlier in the day were peaceful, marching from Centennial Olympic Park to the State Capitol and back. They were angry, passionate, but not randomly violent.

And then, after sundown, cars were set ablaze and windows were shattered at CNN Center and down Marietta Street.

Sometime after 9 pm, our mayor, Keisha Lance Bottoms made a plea to Atlantans to stop the violence and simply “go home.” She invoked the entire history of peaceful civil rights protests, the legacy of Dr. King (of course) and spoke as a mother of 4, the oldest of whom is (I think she said) 18. She wanted him home and safe. She wanted all young black men home and safe.

It was a very powerful (surprisingly intense and passionate) message to my ears, but I’m not among the people she’s trying to reach. I’m not sure they’re listening. And I’m not sure they think that their government listens either.

And I know that the virus that still overlays close, sweaty public gatherings everywhere cares not about the systemic problems of American justice.