Prior to the verdict finding former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin guilty of the murder of George Floyd, cities around the nation braced for protest and unrest should a different outcome have ensued.
But in Cobb, public safety officials said they saw little reason to suspect disturbances would break out in the county.
“(Regarding) protests specifically related to the jury receiving the verdict in the George Floyd case, I’m not aware of any protest that has been scheduled or that anybody’s communicated with us,” said Cobb Police Chief Tim Cox.
A spokesperson for Cobb Police said the department did not receive any information indicating brewing tensions.
“Absent any direct information to indicate any potential unrest,” Officer Shenise Barner said in an email, “we are not making any changes to our current daily work schedules.”
Barner noted the department was maintaining an unspecified number of units available to support neighboring jurisdictions, such as the Atlanta Police Department, if needed. In response to an inquiry on Tuesday evening, Barner said those plans remained in place.
During protests last summer in Atlanta, Cobb Police were sent to the city to help manage protests there. But the department pulled out of the effort when APD officers were charged by then-Fulton District Attorney Paul Howard following the highly publicized traffic stop and tasering of two college students.
Ben Williams, president of the Cobb Southern Christian Leadership Conference, similarly said he was not aware of any planned demonstrations. He and fellow activists, however, have been “tuned in” to the proceedings in Minneapolis.
“The trial is going very well,” Williams said. “But regrettably, the adage that justice is blind has not been the case when it comes to Black folks.”
Following the verdict, Williams praised the prosecution and the jury for keeping “their eye on the ball.”
“Let me be clear and without any kind of equivocations. I’d be less than honest if I didn’t say that we are extremely pleased with the decision, that we are able to see within our lifetime what justice looks like,” said Williams.
Most impactful to Williams was the willingness of Chauvin’s fellow officers to break their silence and speak out directly against his actions. Minneapolis Police Chief Medaria Arradondo testified that Chauvin’s actions “absolutely” violated departmental policy.
“The blue line is not as strong as it used to be. The police chief, and a number of other officers in that department have come forward and said, ‘Nah, we don’t — we don’t do that,’” Williams said.
The sentiment was shared by Sally Riddle of the Cobb Coalition for Public Safety, who called the “break in the blue wall” the “most positive” development of the trial.
Before the announcement, Riddle likewise said she hadn’t heard of anything planned locally but wanted to encourage potential demonstrators to not take out their potential anger over a verdict on local police.
“I would certainly hope that people, again, would take into account that this did not happen locally here,” she said. “We have citizen groups, including the NAACP, SCLC (and) our group, that have positive working relationships with our police departments, and that they’ll hopefully take that into account.”
Officer Chuck McPhilamy of the Marietta Police Department said Tuesday morning his department was in the same mode as the rest of the country — ”wait and see.”
“I think the average person … has seen more than enough of these cases over history to know that there’s no way to know what all the facts are that the jury has heard, nor do they know what the jury will decide,” McPhilamy said Tuesday. “And that there’s no point in really making any preparations until we know what that outcome is.”
He added that if there are demonstrations in Cobb County, he hopes that as they did last summer, protestors remain peaceful.
“We are pleased to report that Marietta has had a very long history of peaceful protests. And we would hope that if there were any need for that, our history would follow through and that the community would work with us to safely voice any concerns they had.”