Authorities said that six people were detained following protests that took place in downtown Atlanta on Saturday night in response to a proposed police training facility and the earlier that week fatal police killing of an activist.
A group inside the crowd then started “committing illegal acts,” including smashing windows and hitting police cruisers, Atlanta Police Chief Darin Schierbaum said in a news conference. The protestors had marched down a central Atlanta street on Saturday evening in a “peaceful way.”
The police chief stated that six persons had been detained and that they were still looking for possible criminal activity on the part of others. He said that three companies had their windows damaged.
A police cruiser that was on fire was captured on camera by social media users in the downtown area, and a Wells Fargo bank’s windows were shattered in a CNN station WANF video.
The protests are in response to a proposed $90 million, 85-acre law enforcement training facility that has been called “Cop City” by its detractors. They also occurred just days after a 26-year-old activist was killed by police close to the training center’s proposed location.
According to Schierbaum, several of the people detained on Saturday “have already been involved in other criminal behavior and are involved in a manner to impede the establishment of the public safety training center.”
At the press conference, Atlanta Mayor Andre Dickens remarked, “My message is straightforward to those that desire to perpetuate this type of criminal behavior. “We’ll track you down, take you into custody, and hold you accountable.” Dickens participated in the 2021 city council vote in favor of the training center.
Brian Kemp, the governor of Georgia, added on Twitter that “violence and illegal property destruction are not acts of protest. Georgia will not tolerate these acts, and full legal action will be taken.
Many of those detained, according to Dickens, “don’t even live in Atlanta or in the state of Georgia,” and some of them were discovered “with explosives,” he claimed during the press conference.
Mother Of Activist Killed Feels Frustrated And ‘Powerless’
Authorities claim that the activist was killed by a police shooting on Wednesday morning while being cleared from the area where a new facility will be built. In an effort to delay development, opponents of the facility have been camping out in the region for months.
According to a news release from the Georgia Bureau of Investigation, law enforcement officials saw a person in a tent in the woods and offered verbal directions to them; nevertheless, the person allegedly disobeyed and shot a Georgia State Patrol Trooper.
Officers opened fire in response, mortally wounding the person. The GBI reported that the projectile from the trooper’s wound matched a firearm that was found in the person’s possession.
Manuel Esteban Paez Terán Was Named As The Deceased
Terán was described as a “forest defender” fighting environmental racism, according to activists from movements that were opposing the plant and who are disputing the police’s version of events. Terán, also known as Tortuguita, who identified as nonbinary, was praised by local justice organizations as being “lovely, warm, highly brilliant, and caring.”
Terán’s mother expressed her frustration and sense of helplessness at her son’s passing.
Belkis Terán, who was speaking from Panamá City, Panamá, expressed her skepticism about the account of the occurrence given by law police, adding, “I know they stated he shot first, but I don’t believe it.”
She continued, “He was attacked.
While law enforcement said Terán owned a firearm, the activist’s mother claimed she was unaware of this and that, if he did, he was using it to defend himself against wild creatures in the jungle. That is what I take in.
He had no violent tendencies. He advocated peace. He would frequently remind me of this. I am a peace activist. In fact, Belkis Terán told CNN that he wouldn’t even kill an animal. Terán was known as “Tortuguita” because of his family’s passion for turtle conservation, according to his mother.
She praised Terán as a kind, kind person with a “sweet soul” who has always been there to provide a hand.
Authorities Won’t Release The Trooper’s Name
According to officials, the injured trooper underwent surgery at a nearby hospital and was in stable condition as of Wednesday night. The name of the trooper will not be made public, according to the Georgia Department of Public Safety, since doing so “would undermine security against criminal or terroristic acts due to reprisal.”
In addition, the GBI reported that during its Wednesday clearance operation, it discovered and took down roughly 25 campsites, as well as detained and charged seven individuals with domestic terrorism and criminal trespass.
In addition, “mortar-style fireworks, many edged weapons, pellet rifles, gas masks, and a blow torch” were found by authorities.
A Controversial Facility
According to the Atlanta Police Foundation, the current law enforcement facilities are subpar, and the proposed training center will help raise morale and recruitment efforts.
However, there has been ferocious opposition to the complex, which will feature a gun range, model city, and burn building.
Police arrest 3, kneel on neck of person screaming "I CAN'T BREATHE" at #StopCopCity #JusticeForTort protest in Atlanta tonightpic.twitter.com/lQWn15tqYQ
— Defend the Atlanta Forest (@defendATLforest) January 22, 2023
City officials have stated that the center will also help address police reform, although they have not provided any other information. Some critics of the project believe it to be a response to the 2020 rallies against racial injustice and police brutality.
Some locals have also claimed that the city has been blindsiding their neighbors with a development process that has been mostly unnoticed by the public. According to city officials, around $30 million of the facility’s cost will be covered by taxes, with the remaining funds coming from philanthropic and corporate gifts.
Additionally, environmentalists have long expressed concern about the project’s effects on the environment: the training center would cut through a piece of forest land and sever what local activists hope will eventually connect a network of green spaces throughout parts of Atlanta and DeKalb County.