The College Football Hall of Fame in downtown Atlanta was damaged during protests and riots in the city on Friday night, according to the Atlanta Journal Constitution.
Protesters smashed windows at the Hall of Fame and were seen looting the building before police officers arrived.
College Football Hall of Fame -- down the street from CNN. pic.twitter.com/B4EgP5aLoU— Christopher Moloney (@Moloknee) May 30, 2020
The $68 million facility, which opened in 2014 and features a 45-yard indoor football field, dozens of exhibits, iconic memorabilia and more.
College Football Hall of Fame CEO Kimberly Beaudin said in a statement she was "heartbroken" to see the damage.
"First and foremost, our hearts go out to the friends and family of George Floyd. We support the peaceful protests that honor his memory but unfortunately they deteriorated into chaos and disorder," Beaudin said. "We are heartbroken to see the damage to our city and the Hall of Fame. As our Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms said, we are better than this, better than this as a city, better than this as a country.
"In the coming days and weeks, we'll work to pick up the pieces to rebuild the sacred walls that housed memories and honored those who played the game, many of whom fought these same injustices throughout their storied careers."
On Saturday morning, Beaudin told ESPN that the damage to the Hall of Fame was limited to its gift shop and that no artifacts or displayed were damaged.
The protests were largely in response to the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis, who died in police custody on Monday. Protests and riots have erupted across the country in recent days after a video of his arrest — which showed a white Minneapolis police officer putting his knee in Floyd’s neck for seven minutes while he yelled out, “I can’t breathe” — went viral. Plenty of prominent figures in the sports world have spoken out since then, too.
Atlanta faced tense protests and riots on Friday night, including some outside of the CNN Center downtown — which sits just one block from the Hall of Fame. At one point, protesters even threw a firecracker into the lobby at police and CNN reporters while they were live on national television.
Protesters throw lit fireworks at police inside CNN Center pic.twitter.com/lJh8XbgLN4— CJ Fogler (@cjzero) May 30, 2020
The front of CNN Center in Atlanta was the scene of violent protests on Friday evening that resulted in damage to the front of the building and inside https://t.co/Uz5PsPdoND pic.twitter.com/TsIsu9LCbn— CNN (@CNN) May 30, 2020
Atlanta mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms slammed the destructive demonstrations in her city late on Friday night. Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp declared a state of emergency for Fulton County, where Atlanta is located, and called in the national guard early on Saturday morning, too.
“What I see happening on the streets of Atlanta is not Atlanta,” Bottoms said, via CNN. “This is not a protest. This is not in the spirit of Martin Luther King, Jr. This is Chaos.
“A protest has a purpose. When Dr. King was assassinated, we didn’t do this to our city. If you want change in America, go and register to vote … That is the change we need in this country.”
It appeared that the national guard was guarding the Hall of Fame building on Saturday morning, and some of the damage could be seen more clearly in the light of day.
#CONTINUING— Daylight shows the destruction left behind after the incredibly destructive protests in #Atlanta. GA National Guard still standing watch outside the looted @cfbhall @11AliveNews pic.twitter.com/xANFRxFWCK— Maura Sirianni 11Alive (@MauraSirianni) May 30, 2020
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