Updated Mar 6, 2023 - Politics & Policy

35 arrested after clashes at Atlanta police training center site

A screenshot of an Atlanta Police Department tweet showing fire during clashes between police and protesters at a police training facility on Sunday.

Photo: Atlanta Police Department/Twitter

The site of a proposed Atlanta police training facility was attacked Sunday by people throwing "large rocks, bricks, Molotov cocktails, and fireworks at police officers," police said.

The big picture: Police said they had detained 35 people after the latest confrontation between police and protesters at the site of the Atlanta Police Foundation's proposed complex, which activists have dubbed "Cop City." Organizers have pushed back on the police account of the latest clashes.

Details: The Atlanta Police Department said in a statement that "violent agitators used the cover of a peaceful protest" at the site to launch the attack — a description protesters strongly objected to.

  • "They changed into black clothing and entered the construction area" before they allegedly launched their attack, police said.

Meanwhile, organizers and supporters said clashes occurred during a weekend festival, per NBC News.

What they're saying: "Indiscriminate police violence tonight against Stop Cop City festival-goers," The Atlanta Solidarity Fund tweeted Sunday night.

  • "Police seem to be lashing out at anyone present at the music festival. Music is not a crime, protest is not a crime. The first amendment doesn't go away when a single person sets a fire."

The Defend the Atlanta Forest collective issued a statement after the arrests stating: "It's important to note that the 35 people that police arrested tonight were not 'violent agitators,' but peaceful concert goers who were nowhere near the demonstration."

Of note: DeKalb County approved the stalled land development permit for the controversial police complex in February — one month after the yearlong standoff between law enforcement and activists turned deadly, when a protester was fatally shot and a Georgia state trooper was injured at the site.

  • Rights groups have called for an independent investigation into the incident, which left environmental activist Manuel Esteban Paez Terán dead.

Go deeper: "Cop City" and the language of protests

Editor's note: This article has been updated with additional details throughout.

Go deeper