Feb 8, 2024 - News

1 arrested in fire to protest public safety training center, police say

Two images of Atlanta police motorcycles that were burned in July 2023.

Several motorcycles were burned in a fire Atlanta police say was set at a precinct in July. Photos: Atlanta Police Department

Atlanta police have made an arrest in one of several fires they say were started to protest the city's planned public safety training center.

Why it matters: The arrest comes nearly a month after the department rolled out a national billboard campaign announcing a reward of up to $200,000 for information leading to the arrest of those responsible.

The latest: Atlanta resident John Robert Mazurek, 30, was arrested Thursday and charged with first degree arson, city officials said at a press conference.

Flashback: He is charged in connection with the July 2023 torching of police motorcycles at a precinct on Southside Industrial Parkway, which is the site of the department's Special Operations Center.

Threat level: Police Chief Darin Schierbaum said police officers were inside the precinct at the time of the arson: "So for those that say this is only about the destruction of property to make a political point, that is wrong."

  • "We are very fortunate that we did not stand before you all in July to note the passing of an Atlanta police officer that was killed in an arson attack."

The other side: A coalition of activists pushing to stop the project said in a statement that Thursday's "raid" was an attack on opposition to the training center.

  • "We will not be intimidated and the community will continue to apply a variety of strategies to oppose the construction of this dangerous facility."

The big picture: Several incidents of arson have been reported around the metro area, and the city has characterized them as the work of a small group of people opposed to the training center.

  • Fires have been set to construction equipment over the last year at or near the site of the training center and in Gwinnett County.
  • A May 2022 fire happened at the At-Promise Center, a youth crime diversion program of the Atlanta Police Foundation.

Context: Sixty-one "Stop Cop City'' activists were indicted in September 2023 by a grand jury on racketeering and domestic terrorism charges for their alleged roles in the movement to block the training center.

What's next: Mayor Andre Dickens said it will be up to the district attorney and the attorney general to determine if any arson suspects could face charges such as domestic terrorism or violating Georgia's RICO Act.

  • Schierbaum said more arrests could be made relating to other fires.

Editor's note: This story has been updated to include comment from activists opposing the public safety training complex.

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