Jan 18, 2023 - News

Protester killed, state trooper shot near "Cop City" site

GSP troopers

State troopers on Key Road. Georgia state troopers helping conduct a “clearing operation” at the site of Atlanta’s planned public safety training center exchanged gunfire with a protester Wednesday morning, Jan. 18, 2023 leaving the protester dead and one trooper wounded, according to the Georgia Bureau of Investigation. Credit: John Spink/Atlanta Journal-Constitution

One protester is dead and a Georgia state trooper is recovering after a shooting near the future site of Atlanta's controversial public safety training complex Wednesday morning.

The latest: The Georgia Bureau of Investigation, who is investigating the incident, on Thursday identified the protester as 26-year-old Manuel Esteban Paez Teran.

  • The trooper who was shot has not been identified, and state police said they will not release their name or the names of any of any law enforcement officers who were involved in Wednesday's operation, according to Saporta Report. The injured trooper remains in stable condition, according to investigators.
  • Investigators also said Thursday that 25 campsites were removed, and officers seized a blow torch, multiple weapons, pellet rifles and mortar-style fireworks.
  • Seven people were arrested after the incident and charged with domestic terrorism and criminal trespassing.

Why it matters: Wednesday's events are another example of escalating tensions between cops and activists who have built encampments and tree houses in the wooded area to block the $90 million complex.

  • The shooting occurred a month after the GBI charged five activists with domestic terrorism following a clash with officers trying to remove barricades that were erected to block access to the property dubbed 'Cop City' by opponents.

What they're saying: GBI Director Mike Register said the shooting occurred while local and state law enforcement officials began a clearing operation to remove the protestors "illegally occupying the property."

  • During the operation, an individual "confronted law enforcement" and shot the trooper, Register said. Officers returned fire and fatally shot the protester.

Of note: The following were arrested this week and charged with domestic terrorism and criminal trespassing:

  • Geoffrey Parsons, 20, of Maryland
  • Spencer Bernard Liberto, 29, of Pennsylvania
  • Matthew Ernest Macar, 30, of Pennsylvania
  • Timothy Murphy, 25, of Maine
  • Christopher Reynolds, 31, of Ohio
  • Teresa Shen, 31, of New York
  • Sarah Wasilewski, 35, of Pennsylvania

The other side: According to a statement released by the Atlanta Community Press Collective, which supports the resistance effort, dozens of heavily armed officers entered the forest "with guns drawn and heavy machinery poised to continue forest destruction.”

  • "Police killed a forest defender for loving this earth, for taking a stand against the ongoing destruction of the planet and its people," the statement said.
  • A candlelight vigil for the activist was planned for Wednesday night in Little Five Points.

Yes, and: Kamau Franklin, founder of Community Movement Builders, which also opposes the project, said the organization is "heartbroken that this type of violence is used against protestors."

  • "Having SWAT teams clearing protestors with the Georgia state police seems like a recipe for the disaster that has happened," he said.

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.

This is a developing story. Please check back for updates.

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