Dec 14, 2022 - News

Clash between activists, police escalates "Cop City" tensions

A sign in the woods that says no cops in ATL

Activists have occupied the forest for more than a year. Photo: Thomas Wheatley/Axios

Five people arrested at the planned site of Atlanta's new public safety training center have been charged with domestic terrorism, the Georgia Bureau of Investigation announced Wednesday.

What's happening: State and local law enforcement clashed Tuesday with protesters occupying the DeKalb County forest where Atlanta wants to build a public safety training center.

Why it matters: The confrontation is the latest in the long-running occupation aimed at blocking the Atlanta Police Foundation's proposed complex, which activists have dubbed "Cop City."

Details: Accounts differ as to what took place in the deep woods off Key Road in unincorporated DeKalb County. Sean Wolters, a media contact for the resistance effort, told Axios that as of 10:30am activists camping in trees were being hit with tear gas and pepper balls.

  • The Atlanta Community Press Collective, a news outlet supportive of the resistance effort, posted a video apparently shot by one of the activists and reported police firing "chemical irritants" in their direction.

An Atlanta police spokesperson said officers and "local, state, and task force members removed barricades blocking some of the entrances to the training center." He provided no additional information.

  • Alison Clark, a local resident who leads a group advising the center’s development, told the AJC the activists shot fireworks at first responders and then law enforcement entered the property.
  • Wolters denied this account to Axios, saying an apparent operation by APD to remove people from the trees sparked the clash.

Catch up quick: For more than a year, activists opposed to the $90 million, 85-acre complex have lived among the trees in the forest, which is part of Intrenchment Creek Park.

  • Activists say the proposed facility would continue a broken system of public safety and destroy one of Atlanta’s few large forests, displacing wildlife and devastating nature.

Police say activists' tactics have included vandalizing construction equipment, creating barricades and confronting workers on the site. They also allege the group has thrown Molotov cocktails at law enforcement and firefighters when they arrive to put out blazes.

The big picture: The standoff shows no signs of stopping anytime soon.

Editor’s note: Cox Enterprises President and CEO Alex Taylor, a former chair of the Atlanta Committee for Progress, led a campaign to raise private funds for the project. Cox owns Axios.


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