The College Football Hall of Fame was damaged and looted during violent protests in Atlanta on Friday night, police confirmed in a statement.
The Hall of Fame, which is located near the CNN Center and Centennial Olympic Park in downtown Atlanta, was near the epicenter of demonstrations over George Floyd’s death. Floyd, who was black, died while in police custody in Minneapolis earlier this week.
Protesters smashed the Hall of Fame’s front windows and looted its gift shop during the demonstrations. It was not immediately clear whether the Hall of Fame’s museum, which is the home of many of the sport’s most notable artifacts and memorabilia, was damaged by looters.
“Protesters continue damaging businesses, looting and setting fire to buildings,” Atlanta Police Department Sgt. John Chafee said in a statement Saturday morning. “There has been looting at the College Football Hall of Fame … and many other businesses. We are grateful for the assistance being provided by multiple local and state law enforcement partners as we work to minimize the damage being caused by these individuals and to restore order in our city.”
Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms condemned the violence during a news conference on Friday night. Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp declared a state of emergency and deployed the National Guard to the city.
“What I see happening on the streets of Atlanta is not Atlanta. This is not a protest. This is not in the spirit of Martin Luther King Jr. This is chaos,” Bottoms said at a news conference. “A protest has 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.”
In a statement, College Football Hall of Fame CEO Kimberly Beaudin said she was “heartbroken” to see the damage. The Hall of Fame moved from South Bend, Indiana, to a $68.5 million facility in Atlanta in 2014.
“We support the peaceful protests that honor [Floyd’s] memory but unfortunately 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.”
The Hall of Fame is scheduled to host SEC media days July 13-16.