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Atlanta mayor agrees to talks after Black Lives Matter sit-in

By Ed Adamczyk
Atlanta mayor agrees to talks after Black Lives Matter sit-in
Atlanta Police Chief George Turner met with the press Monday prior to visiting a protest at the Georgia governor's mansion. Photo courtesy of Atlanta Police Department

ATLANTA, July 12 (UPI) -- The mayor of Atlanta agreed to a formal meeting with Black Lives Matter protesters and the city's police chief after the demonstrators held an hours-long sit-in outside the Georgia governor's mansion.

The protest at the governor's mansion began after a march through the city's upscale Buckhead section that blocked traffic.

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Although Gov. Nathan Deal was in Germany on a trade mission, between 200 and 300 demonstrators gathered outside his residence Monday evening after a march through the neighborhood, requesting a meeting with Mayor Kasim Reed or police Chief George Turner to address their concerns. Reed and Turner each arrived late in the night; the two men met with protest organizers inside a police command vehicle for about 45 minutes.

They emerged announcing another meeting Monday after what Reed termed a cooling-off period, to discuss grievances including affordable housing and homelessness in the city. Reed also briefly addressed protesters after the meeting.

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"They wanted to have a conversation with us and that's what we're out here to do -- have a conversation. Our city is doing the right things -- that's why we're out here. We're out here trying to have a conversation with folks and figure out what we can do to move our police department to a better place," Turner said after the meeting.

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Police did not allow any demonstrators leaving the protest to return, and many left after they ran out of food or were told illegally parked cars were being ticketed. Some stayed, though, past midnight. The demonstration was smaller than those on previous nights; an estimated 15,000 people were involved in marches in Atlanta over the weekend, about 10,000 on Friday.

Reed said Monday there have been fewer than 25 arrests since the start of the weekend, WTOC-TV reported.

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