- More than 500 people marched to the site of the new police training facility to protest on Monday morning
- Police in riot gear deployed tear gas and flash-bang grenades at the crowd
- Passionate protestors have been gathering around the controversial $90million training site nicknamed ‘Cop City’
Police officers in riot gear clashed briefly with a group of protestors at Cop City just outside of Atlanta.
The Monday morning encounter sent activists running down Constitution Road about a quarter-mile from where the new police training site is being built.
Passionate protestors have been gathering around the planned $90million training site that they’ve given the nickname ‘Cop City’ for months
In January, tensions boiled over when one protestor was shot dead by a Georgia state trooper whom he had fired at.
Earlier this month, nearly 60 people were indicted on racketeering charges stemming from the protests.
Georgia’s attorney general, Chris Carr, obtained a sweeping indictment in August by applying the state’s anti-racketeering law to target protestors who were characterized as ‘militant anarchists.’
More than 500 people on Monday marched about two miles from a park to the site, which is just outside the Atlanta city limits in suburban DeKalb County.
After pushing into the police line on Monday (which was flanked by armored vehicles), some marchers retreated from the clash while others tried to wash away the effects of the tear gas.
Dozens of protesters ran into the woods on the property where the training center is being built and later walked out holding hands. Activists spent months camping in those woods until police pushed them out in January.
The enormous construction project was announced in November 2021 and is expected to open at the end of 2023 after a difficult two-year process. It will have extensive facilities including a mock city and fire station so emergency services can better train their staff.
The frequently occurring crowds of protestors are made up largely of anti-police and environmental activists who have united over a shared goal.
The 85-acre training facility is, according to Atlanta mayor Andre Dickens, necessary to replace inadequate training facilities and will hopefully help the department train and obtain officers.
Anti-police protestors have expressed concern that the facility could lead to a bigger militarized police force.
Environmentalists argue that its construction in the South River Forest will lead to worse environmental damage in a poor, largely black area.
Last month, a prosecutor opted not to charge the state troopers who fatally shot the protestor, saying he found their use of deadly force to be ‘objectively reasonable.’
The RICO charges being applied to some of the militant protestors carry a sentence of five to 20 years.
Among the defendants are more than three dozen people who previously faced domestic terrorism charges in connection to the protests. Also charged were three leaders of a bail fund previously; and three activists charged with felony intimidation.
For months, the soon-to-open facility has been the target of domestic terrorism including the environmental group who call themselves the ‘Forest Defenders.’
That group has spent months throwing rocks and the occasional Molotov cocktail at police and at contractors on site.
Stop Cop City activists also say that the City of Atlanta has ‘leased’ the land it is building on – something the Mayor’s office has denied. They say that the ‘City’ in unincorporated DeKalb County owns it.
The facility stretches 85 acres into DeKalb County woods, which is known as the Old Atlanta Prison Farm, where prisoners would work in poor conditions in the 20th century.
The large-scale construction will be used to train officials from the Atlanta Police Department and the Atlanta Fire and Rescue Department.
According to the Mayor of Atlanta, both departments are currently using ‘insufficient and aging facilities that impede proper training.’
It will include:
- An Emergency Vehicle Operations Course (EVOC) for fire and police driving training;
- A training and education center with modular design enabling classroom, auditorium, seminar education and training;
- Academy housing for police, fire/rescue recruits;
- The Atlanta Police Leadership Institute;
- Indoor and outdoor shooting ranges;
- A fitness center for sworn officers;
- Stables and pastureland to house for mounted patrol;
- A kennel and indoor/outdoor training center for canine unit;
- Greenspace open to the public, featuring trails, ballfields, picnic areas;
- Facilities available for rent to law enforcement agencies and the public; and
- A community watch training program for our communities.