Atlanta Police Battle Protesters

Demonstration opposed construction of training center
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Nov 13, 2023 7:15 PM CST
Police Site Protest Turns Violent
Protesters drive into a police line during a demonstration in opposition to a new police training center, Monday outside Atlanta.   (AP Photo/Mike Stewart)

Police used tear gas and flash-bang grenades Monday to halt a march against building an Atlanta-area police and firefighter training center that opponents call "Cop City." More than 400 people marched about two miles from a park to the site in suburban DeKalb County, chanting "stop Cop City" and "Viva, viva Tortuguita," invoking the nickname of an activist who was fatally shot by state troopers while camping in the woods in protest earlier this year. A wedge of marchers—some in masks, goggles, and chemical suits intended to protect against tear gas—pushed into a line of officers in riot gear on a road outside the training center site. Officers pushed back and deployed tear gas, the AP reports. One protester threw a canister back at them.

Atlanta Police Chief Darin Schierbaum later said the protesters disobeyed orders to stop the march, noting they didn't have a permit for it. He said marchers showing up with gas masks was an indication they sought to provoke police. "This is not a group that has the best interests of Atlanta at heart. This is a group today that left Gresham Park prepared to reach the site, prepared to do harm, prepared to do destruction," Schierbaum said. Some protesters acknowledged they wanted to enter the construction site as an act of civil disobedience but denied any intention of violence. "The police continue to show themselves to be a group that is weaponized against the larger public, particularly the larger public that has the nerve to protest against police violence and police actions," said Kamau Franklin of Community Movement Builders.

Protests against the proposed training center have been going on for more than two years. Georgia Attorney General Chris Carr obtained a sweeping indictment in August that charged 61 protesters. Monday's march was called "Block Cop City," per the AP, and events were held across the country in recent weeks to support the movement. It was the latest effort to stop construction of a project that has galvanized environmentalists and anti-police protesters. Some marchers retreated from the clash while others tried to wash away the effects of tear gas. Dozens of protesters ran into the woods near the property where the training center is being built and exited with their hands up. The marchers eventually retreated as a group without any arrests being made. Vomiting and irritation from the tear gas were the only apparent injuries.

(More Georgia stories.)

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