A group of protestors attacked an up-and-coming new police training center in Atlanta on Sunday, including throwing Molotov cocktails at officers, with the incident leading to the arrest of 35 individuals.
The Atlanta Public Safety Training Center, also derisively called “Cop City” by critics, is a first responder training facility. Protestors allege that the facility is a sign of rising militarization of police as well as a threat to the environment. Protestors reportedly have “used the cover of a peaceful protest” against the center to carry out the attack which also damaged construction equipment, according to a March. 5 news release by the Atlanta Police Department.
The protestors entered the construction area and started throwing rocks, bricks, fireworks, and Molotov cocktails at the officers. “The agitators destroyed multiple pieces of construction equipment by fire and vandalism,” the department said.
“Multiple law enforcement agencies deployed to the area and detained several people committing illegal activity … The illegal actions of the agitators could have resulted in bodily harm. Officers exercised restraint and used non-lethal enforcement to conduct arrests.”
The department and other law enforcement agencies are planning a “multi-layered strategy” to handle the protests in the coming days, including making arrests.
A video posted on Facebook by the department shows officers trying to desperately close a gate while under attack from a group of men.
Violent Attacks, Legislation
According to journalist Andy Ngo, the attacks were carried out by the “far-left movement” Defend the Atlanta Forest. “The pre-planned riot is another revenge attack for law enforcement stopping their violent autonomous zone occupation,” Ngo said in a March 6 tweet.
“For months, far-left extremists from across the U.S. descended on a forested area southeast of Atlanta to create an autonomous zone in an effort to sabotage the construction of a first responder training facility. They’re extremely violent & since December have carried out a number of attacks, escalating into a deadly shooting in January & then a downtown Atlanta terror attack,” Ngo said.
According to the journalist, Antifa’s Twitter account @afainatl has kicked off fundraising for their “violent comrades” who are being arrested.
Representative Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Ga.) said that she will be introducing legislation on Tuesday to officially declare Antifa to be a terrorist organization.
“Antifa attacked the Atlanta future Public Safety Training Facility. This is domestic terrorism. It was planned for weeks and announced on social media,” Greene said in a March 6 tweet.
“Antifa are self-proclaimed communists and consistently organize to attack our government over and over again. They should be taken seriously and not tolerated anymore.”
The Atlanta Facility
The Atlanta Public Safety Training Center will include classrooms, training areas, and an amphitheater. Officers will role-play real-life scenarios like high-speed chases and shoot-outs. It is mostly funded by donations from the Atlanta Police Foundation, a nonprofit entity.
The center is being established on 85 acres in DeKalb County that is owned by the city. It was approved by the city council back in June 2021. The facility is located inside 1,000 acres of wooded land that environmentalists want to be turned into a protected green space.
Violent protests erupted in January after a police operation aimed at identifying trespassers ended up killing a protestor. The victim, Manuel Teran, 26, was given “verbal commands” by the police. However, he “did not comply” and shot a patrol officer, according to officials from the Georgia Bureau of Investigation (GBI).
Other officers returned fire. As a result, Teran died on the scene. Rioters then charged through downtown Atlanta on Jan. 21, damaging buildings in the process. Activists have raised questions about the police version of the incident, also pointing to the lack of body camera footage.