Nearly two dozen detained following protest at Atlanta police training site

3/6/23 by Colette Lauture

35 people have been detained after throwing flaming bottles and rocks at officers during a protest at “Cop City,” a new police training center, Atlanta police said Monday. Located in DeKalb County, the Atlanta Public Safety Training Center has been the site of previous demonstrations and even the death of a protester.

At a midnight news conference, Atlanta Police Chief Darin Schierbraum said that multiple pieces of construction equipment were set on fire Sunday at the center, calling it “a coordinated attack.”

The Atlanta City Council approved the $90 million center two years ago, saying police morale would be boosted by implementing a state-of-the-art campus. A shooting range would be included at the center, as well as a driving course for authorities to practice chases. A “mock village” with a fake home, convenience store and nightclub would also be set up for the rehearsal of raids.

Protesters at the site dressed in all black, throwing large rocks, bricks, Molotov cocktails, and fireworks at police officers Sunday. Officers from nearby communities stepped in to assist city officers, and Schierbraum said that no officers were injured. The chief added that the Federal Bureau of Investigation has joined police in the case.

Schierbraum mentioned that officers used non-lethal enforcement methods to disperse the crowd and detain those involved. When asked about injuries to any demonstrators, he said that “some minor discomforts” were reported and attended to by medical personnel.

The names of the individuals in custody and their criminal charges were not made immediately available early Monday, according to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. However, Schierbraum noted that many were not from the Atlanta area. 

Several accused of participating in the protest are being charged with domestic terrorism, which as a felony carries a penalty of up to 35 years in prison. Critics of the charges say that the state is being too harsh.

Meanwhile, police said Monday that more protests are planned for the days to come. To respond to these protests, police also said in a statement that the Atlanta Police Department have “a multi-layered strategy that includes reaction and arrest.”