SAVANNAH, Ga. (WSAV) – Mayor Van Johnson held a press conference Monday at 2 p.m. following Sunday’s peaceful protest in downtown Savannah in response to the death of George Floyd.
Johnson praised Savannahians, community leaders and state and local law enforcement for how Sunday’s protest went.
The mayor then announced he is ending the citywide curfew, effective immediately, but warned he was prepared to reinstate it “the moment that anything jumps off.”
Johnson put a citywide curfew into place Sunday evening as a precaution. The curfew extended from 8:30 p.m. to 7 a.m. nightly until further notice. Johnson said the curfew was a necessary move to help law enforcement determine “the good guys from the bad guys.”
Johnson also addressed the Blue Ribbon task force he briefly introduced Sunday during his speech at City Hall. He said the task force will investigate and provide solutions for “inequities and disparities of all kinds” in Savannah. He said it will be based on data and will be a community effort.
“The only way that we get beyond this moment is that we have to do it together,” Johnson said.
Former Savannah Mayor Otis Johnson will be involved in the new task force.
“It is going to include some work,” Johnson said. “It is going to include some sweat equity. It is going to include some courageous conversations. But we are up to, and ready for this task.”
Johnson was happy to report that there were no major injuries or damage to property reported during Sunday’s protest.
“Yesterday, you saw Savannah strong, but you also saw Savannah love,” Johnson said.
Though there were no major incidents, there were 16 people arrested. Savannah Police Chief Roy Minter said two people arrested Sunday are active members of the U.S. Military.
Minter said three people arrested were armed; one is a felon.
Three others arrested were from out of town. One was from Virginia, one was from Vidalia and one was from Midway.
Johnson said groups from outside of Savannah coming in to protest played a part in his decision to issue the curfew.
“I took the time yesterday to engage personally with many of these protesters, and there was a clear and definite shift from Savannahians to people who live no where near here and people who had no idea that they were talking to the mayor of the City of Savannah,” Johnson said.
The mayor wrapped up the press conference thanking the community for remaining diligent and for having pride in Savannah. He asked Savannahians to keep speaking up and to keep working together.
“We must start the work,” Johnson said.
Johnson said some of the work he says must be done in Savannah includes “African American males killing African American males.”
“We will hold the police to their standard, but we need to hold our fathers, our brothers, our sons and our nephews to the same standard that if it is wrong that a police officer does it, it is wrong if you do it as well.”