More than 20 people are now facing domestic terrorism charges after dozens of protesters dressed in black — including one from France and one from Canada — were arrested at a planned police training center in a wooded area outside of Atlanta.
The ongoing conflict between authorities and protesters who oppose the so-called “Cop City,” a $90 million project set to be built in a forest near Atlanta to offer training for the city’s Police and Fire Departments, including classrooms, a shooting range and a “mock city for real-world training,” has heated up in recent weeks. Since 2021, the proposed site of the Atlanta Public Safety Training Center has drawn protesters who worry the project will damage the environment and contribute to the militarization of police.
From The Intercept
At a hearing for arrestees on Tuesday, 22 activists were denied bond outright. One defendant, a Georgia-based attorney who was arrested while acting as a designated legal observer for the National Lawyers Guild during Sunday’s events, was released on $5,000 bond.
“We haven’t seen a charge for arson or interference with government property,” said Eli Bennett, the attorney for several defendants, describing the arrest warrants during Tuesday’s bond hearing. “The state has no evidence,” he said, adding that Georgia’s domestic terrorism statute is “laughably unconstitutional.”
The $90 million training center aims to train cops in militarized urban warfare. The Atlanta Police Department told the Atlanta City Council that it intends to recruit 43 percent of the planned facility’s trainees from out-of-state police departments. Numerous multinational corporations, including Coca-Cola and Bank of America, are funding the project.
There’s a certain irony, then, that in statements on Sunday’s arrests, Atlanta police officials have made a point of blaming “outside agitators” for taking up militant action. Out of 44 people originally detained in Sunday’s forest raid, the 11 people released without charge all had Atlanta addresses. Twenty-one of the 23 activists charged with domestic terrorism are from out of state.
The letter mentioned above says in part:
Civil disobedience and disruptive activism are part of the American protest tradition. From the Boston Tea Party to the civil rights movement, Americans have long drawn on civil disobedience tactics akin to the occupation of the Atlanta forest by the Stop Cop City protesters. Based on the information contained in the arrest warrants, many of the people charged with domestic terrorism are accused only of trespassing or other minor crimes. In all cases, application of the domestic terrorism statute is an escalatory intimidation tactic and a draconian step that seems intended to chill First Amendment protected activity.Rights and Dissent