NASHVILLE, Tenn.--Metro Nashville Mayor John Cooper has signed an Executive Order declaring a State of Civil Emergency following some protests which turned destructive.
Tennessee Governor Bill Lee says he has authorized the National Guard to assist. "At the request of Mayor Cooper, I am authorizing the National Guard to mobilize in response to protests that have now taken a violent, unlawful turn in Nashville." The governor added via Twitter "The threat to both peace and property is unacceptable and we will work with local law enforcement and community leaders to restore safety and order. This is not a reflection of our state or the fundamental American right to peaceful protest."
Mayor Cooper once again condemned the rioting on Sunday morning after surveying damages.
"Last night’s vandalism was shameful," Cooper tweeted. "I surveyed the damage and was briefed by our police and fire chiefs this morning. I want to thank our dedicated police officers and firefighters for their work. Metro is investigating and will continue to arrest those responsible."
The order comes after some protesters -not associated with peaceful protests earlier in the day, set a courthouse on fire and vandalized the building.
Metro Nashville Police also issued a 10 p.m. curfew for remaining protesters. Police stated anyone on the streets after 10 p.m. would be subject to arrest.
ALSO SEE: WATCH: Protesters set blaze to Nashville courthouse as multiple protests continue
The protests follow multiple others across the nation in the wake of the death of George Floyd who was killed by a police officer in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Former Officer Derek Chauvin has been charged with 3rd Degree Murder in Floyd's death. Chauvin was recorded kneeling on Floyd's neck while he was restrained. Floyd issued pleas to the officer, stating "I can't breathe" before losing consciousness.
Floyd's statements have led to protests such as Nashville's "I Will Breathe" protest outside Legislative Plaza on Saturday which was peaceful and included prominent public figures and church leaders. Once the peaceful protest ended, other protesters took to a Metro Nashville Police Precinct and the courthouse, causing damage and becoming violent.
Tennessee U.S. Congressman Jim Cooper also called for an end to the violence. "Violence and destruction don’t solve our problems. We need justice but burning our courthouse is wrong. Martin Luther King, Jr. said it best - “Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that.”— Jim Cooper
Mayor Cooper's Executive Order will be in place for 7 days, though he could rescind the order before then or extend the order if needed. The order allows for the following actions by city officials:
-As necessary, appropriate and expend funds; make contracts; obtain and distribute equipment, materials, and supplies for emergency management purposes; provide for the health and safety of persons and property, including emergency assistance to the victims of any emergency; and direct and coordinate the development of emergency management plans and programs in accordance with the policies and plans set by the federal and state emergency management agencies;
-As necessary, appoint, employ, remove, or provide, with or without compensation, coordinators, rescue teams, fire and police personnel, and other emergency management workers;
-In addition to the primary emergency operating center, establish, as necessary, one or more secondary emergency operating centers to provide continuity of government and direction and control of emergency operations;
-As necessary, assign and make available for duty the offices and agencies of the Metropolitan Government, including the employees, property, or equipment relating to health, medical and related services, police, transportation, and similar items or services for emergency operation purposes, as the primary emergency management forces of the Metropolitan Government for employment within or outside the area of the Metropolitan Government;
-Request state assistance or, as needed, invoke emergency-related mutual-aid assistance in the event of an emergency affecting another political subdivision.