Georgia Governor Brian Kemp has declared a state of emergency after more than 30 people were injured and five people – including an 8-year-old girl – were killed during a violent Fourth of July weekend.
The Republican governor's order authorises the state to deploy National Guard troops to support state buildings, Confederate monuments and statues honouring segregationists, and the governor's mansion, after he had threatened Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms to "take action" amid growing unrest.
He blamed the shootings on Black Lives Matter demonstrations, though none of the incidents were connected to protests.
"Peaceful protests were hijacked by criminals with a dangerous, destructive agenda," Governor Kemp said in a statement. "Now innocent Georgians are being targeted, shot and left for dead."
On Sunday, the mayor pleaded with residents to stop the "random wild wild West shoot-'em-up" that led to the shooting death of 8-year-old Secoriea Turner.
"You shot and killed a baby, and it wasn't one shooter. There were at least two shooters. An 8-year-old baby. And you want people to take us seriously. And you don't want us to lose this movement, then we can't lose each other in this," she said during an emotional press conference on 5 July. "There are peaceful demonstrators across this city and across this country, and I applaud them and I thank them for being peaceful and for honouring the lives of so many people who have been killed in America because of injustice."
Protests across the US in the wake of police killings of black Americans have also gripped Atlanta for more than a month. Following the Memorial Day killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis, Garrett Rolfe, a white police officer, fatally shot Rayshard Brooks, a 27-year-old black man, in the back while he ran from a Wendy's restaurant parking lot and fired a Taser behind him on 12 June.
Early on Sunday, a small group of protesters broke into and damaged a Georgia State Patrol building, sparking flames inside with fireworks.
The governor said his order "will allow troops to protect state property and dispatch state law enforcement officers to patrol our streets."
"Enough with the tough talk," he said. "We must protect the lives and livelihoods of all Georgians."