Georgia Governor Brian Kemp and the State of Georgia have filed a lawsuit against Atlanta Mayor Keisha Bottoms and the Atlanta City Council.
What We Know:
- Gov. Kemp has been in a showdown with local governments for the last few weeks as leaders battle over restrictions and guidelines in light of rising COVID-19 cases. More recently, Georgia cities and counties, including Atlanta, have been implementing local ordinances requiring masks.
- Shortly after local leaders started releasing mandates, Gov. Kemp extended public health provisions, including limiting gatherings and enforcing health guidelines until the end of July. This order, however, also included a prohibition on cities and local leaders mandating the use of masks, face shields, or any other kind of personal protective equipment in public spaces.
- The lawsuit comes after Mayor Bottoms released an executive order mandating masks and rolling back the city to phase one on July 10th. Bottoms also did a press conference today standing by her recommendations and guidelines. When asked if she was concerned about legal action, she stated, “You all know I love to quote Audrey Lorde. She says, ‘I am deliberate and afraid of nothing.’ So I am not afraid of the city being sued, and I’ll put our policies up against anyone’s any day of the week.”
- Kemp made a statement after the lawsuit was filed, claiming he is taking action on behalf of the businesses who have contacted his office regarding closures due to the new guidelines.
“This lawsuit is on behalf of the Atlanta business owners and their hardworking employees who are struggling to survive during these difficult times. These men and women are doing their very best to put food on the table for their families while local elected officials shutter businesses and undermine economic growth. Just like sending in the @GeorgiaGuard to protect those living in our capital city from crime and violence, I refuse to sit back and watch as disastrous policies threaten the lives and livelihoods of our citizens. We will fight to stop these reckless actions and put people over pandemic politics.”
- Mayor Bottoms responded to the lawsuit discussing the personal and citywide impacts of the virus, stating, “A better use of taxpayer money would be to expand testing and contact tracing.”
3104 Georgians have died and I and my family are amongst the 106k who have tested positive for COVID-19. Meanwhile, I have been sued by @GovKemp for a mask mandate. A better use of tax payer money would be to expand testing and contact tracing. #ATLStrong pic.twitter.com/z4hpTrCS1B
— Keisha Lance Bottoms (@KeishaBottoms) July 16, 2020
- Mayor Bottoms is not the only local leader taking issue with the governor’s orders, however. Other local leaders disagree with the refusal to impose mask requirements, including the City of Doraville Mayor, Joseph Geierman, who stated in a tweet, “His [Kemp] lack of leadership on this issue is why cities began passing their own ordinances in the first place.” Mayor Van Johnson, City of Savannah mayor, also spoke out against the governor’s refusal to mandate masks, stating, “It is officially official. Governor Kemp does not give a damn about us.”
It is officially official. Governor Kemp does not give a damn about us. Every man and woman for himself/herself. Ignore the science and survive the best you can.
In #Savannah, we will continue to keep the faith and follow the science. Masks will continue to be available!
— Mayor Van Johnson (@MayorJohnsonSAV) July 16, 2020
We will continue to provide updates as they are made available.