Georgia governor sues Lance-Bottoms over mask mandate following ban

    The lawsuit accuses the mayor of overstepping her authority by making it punishable via jail for not wearing a face cover in public. 

    (Photo by Paras Griffin/Getty Images for ESSENCE)

    Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp is suing Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms for enforcing a mandate to wear a mask in public amid the ongoing COVID-19 crisis. 

    Kemp issued an executive order Wednesday extending Georgia’s state of public emergency, while also banning cities and counties from ordering people to wear masks in public places, CBS News reports.

    The Republican governor is trying to encourage voluntary mask wearing, but Mayor Bottoms is not having it.

    Read More: Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms orders masks to be worn in public

    “It’s my belief that the city of Atlanta still has the appropriate standing to mandate masks, especially as it relates to buildings and places that we own and operate,” she said Thursday at a news conference.

    In a suit filed in state court on Thursday in Atlanta, Kemp and Georgia Attorney General Chris Carr, accuse Mayor Bottoms of overstepping her authority by making it punishable via a fine and up to six months in jail for not wearing a face cover in public. 

    “Local governments, such as the City of Atlanta, do not have the ability or authority to regulate and control the State of Georgia,” Kemp’s lawsuit said.

    “Governor Kemp must be allowed, as the chief executive of this state, to manage the public health emergency without Mayor Bottoms issuing void and unenforceable orders which only serve to confuse the public,” the lawsuit states.

    In a series of tweets, Gov. Kemp explained that the lawsuit “is on behalf of the Atlanta business owners and their hardworking employees who are struggling to survive during these difficult times,” he wrote.

    In a follow up tweet he noted, “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.”

    Kemp added, “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,” he wrote.

    “We will fight to stop these reckless actions and put people over pandemic politics,” he concluded.

    Mayor Bottoms, who recently revealed that she tested positive for the coronavirus, responded to the lawsuit on her own Twitter account, writing: “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.”

    “I am not afraid of the city being sued and I’ll put our policies up against anyone’s, any day of the week,” Bottoms said Thursday during a video news conference.

    Savannah Mayor Van Johnson is supporting Bottoms’ mask stance, and has made clear that police will issue $500 citations to businesses that fail to enforce the mask mandate. 

    “It is officially official. Governor Kemp does not give a damn about us,” Johnson wrote on Twitter Wednesday night. “Every man and woman for himself/herself. Ignore the science and survive the best you can.”

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