Downtown Atlanta protests over ‘Cop City’ | Police car on fire

Activists threw rocks and reportedly set off firecrackers in front of a building housing the Atlanta Police Foundation.

ATLANTA — A protest against the future location of the Atlanta Public Safety Training Center turned violent downtown Saturday night — three days after the death of a protester, who was killed by law enforcement, where the Georgia Bureau of Investigation said the 26-year-old — alt shot and killed a state cop.

Dressed in all black and wearing masks over their faces, activists threw rocks and reportedly set off firecrackers in front of a building housing the Atlanta Police Foundation and smashed large glass windows near Peachtree Street and Andrew Young Boulevard.

Just after 6 p.m., police said they set fire to an Atlanta Police Department cruiser, smashed the windows of a bank in Wells Fargo and destroyed walls covered in anti-police graffiti, in an area usually bustling with tourists. The demonstrators have referred to the training center as “Cop City”.

Shortly before 7 p.m., the police said: “Order in the city center has been restored.”

live updates

11:05 p.m. | 11Alive’s Brittany Kleinpeter was at the press conference where Mayor Dickens and APD chief Schierbaum spoke. She discusses the charges these violent protesters may face.

10:30 p.m. | Another witness arrested a burning Atlanta police squad car shortly after a protester set the car on fire with explosives, according to APD Chief Schierbaum.

10 p.m. | 11Alive’s Dawn White spoke to a witness to the violent protests and a protester who showed up at the 5:00pm rally at Underground Atlanta.

9:30 p.m. | A witness captured the moments after Saturday night’s protests turned violent in Atlanta.

9:10 p.m. | Photos show the damage sustained to police cars and businesses after protests turned violent.

20:53 | Atlanta Police Chief Darin Schierbaum said several protesters were found with explosive devices, noting that one of those explosive devices helped set an Atlanta police car completely ablaze. At least six people have been arrested in the protests, which turned violent tonight. He said three companies were damaged.

8:45 p.m. | Mayor and police chief discuss violence in downtown Atlanta. Watch again here:

8:05 p.m. | Photos from downtown Wells Fargo show broken windows and a damaged ATM.

8 p.m. | MARTA service resumed at the Peachtree Center station.

7:55 p.m. | Gov. Kemp tweeted about the events tonight, saying the “property demolitions were not acts of protest” and thanked those working for public safety to “keep the streets safe tonight”.

7:45 p.m. | Atlanta Mayor Andre Dickens and Atlanta Police Commissioner Darin Schierbaum will address the protests at 8:30 p.m. tonight. They said “several” arrests had been made. You can follow the press conference in this story 11Alive YouTube channel and on 11Alive+ on Roku or FireTV.

7:27 p.m. | Atlanta Fire Rescue said they were dispatched to a burning Atlanta Police Department squad car at Andrew Young International Boulevard at Peachtree Center Avenue NE just after 6 p.m. Firefighters were able to put out the fire and said there were no injuries.

6:50 p.m. | Video of the burning police car was shared by 11Alive viewer Alexander Gonzalez.

6:47 p.m. | The Atlanta Police Department released the following statement regarding tonight’s protests that they currently have things under control.

“Atlanta Police Department has responded to a group damaging property at multiple locations along Peachtree Street. Several arrests were made by this point, and order was restored downtown. This is still an active and ongoing investigation and we will not be able to provide details on arrest numbers or property damaged at this time.”

18:45 | Statement by Governor Kemp’s spokesman, Andrew Isenhour, on the situation in downtown Atlanta:

“The governor remains well informed of the situation through regular updates from state law enforcement and is actively monitoring the situation. The state patrol is well equipped to respond to any threats to public safety and coordinates closely with other state agencies and the local police force.

While the state continues to respect peaceful protest, acts of violence against people or property will not be tolerated. Those who commit such illegal acts will be arrested and prosecuted.”

6:39 p.m. | Ellis Street NW and Peachtree Street NE are closed.

6:15 p.m. | APD released the following statement:

“The Atlanta Police Department is aware of these events and we will continue to monitor them. We stand ready to respond to demonstrations to ensure the safety of people in our communities and those who should be exercising their First Amendment Right or taking action against illegal activities as the need arises.”

6:10 p.m. | MARTA has suspended service to the Peachtree Center station.

6:05 p.m. | An Atlanta Police Department squad car burns near the Hard Rock Cafe in downtown Atlanta near Andrew Young International Blvd and Peachtree Center Avenue Northeast.

5:58 p.m. | Dawn White says protesters have started to march.

5:11 p.m. | 11Alive’s Dawn White was present at the first protest where about 100 people gathered and began chanting “Stop Cop City”.

5:00 p.m. | 11Alive’s Dawn White is downtown with about 100 protesters.

Background to “Cop City”

In recent months, there have been several clashes between protesters and police or other city service workers around the future City of Atlanta Public Safety Center, which will be approved by the City Council in 2021. The Atlanta Police Foundation will build the 85-acre building for a $90 million investment under a lease with the city. The foundation says it will get 180 additional acres on the site for green space.

Protesters have opposed the plant on environmental and historical grounds, saying it would decimate one of the city’s largest surviving areas of forest historically desecrate Native American lands the Muscogee Creek, who once inhabited the woods and called them Weelaunee Forest before being driven out by white settlers in the early 19th century.

They also reject it on the grounds that the land was once the site of Old Prison Farm, a prison complex that, during its operation in the mid-20’s, was “a means of incarceration, a practice that has has since been scrutinized for its profit generation and exploitation of unpaid labor.

TIED TOGETHER: GBI: Ballistics analysis shows a projectile recovered from a soldier’s wound matches a weapon in the protester’s possession

To learn more about the police training facility, the injured officer and previous arrests, click here. Downtown Atlanta protests over ‘Cop City’ | Police car on fire

Laura Coffey

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