“We know there are other people who are on the property now. We ask them to leave. It is illegal to be on the property,” Schierbaum said. “If these individuals left, there would be no arrests.”
It was after Schierbaum’s press conference that police said protesters threw the second Molotov cocktail at officers. It was also on.
Last September, the Atlanta City Council voted to lease the land to the Atlanta Police Foundation to build the facility, which is expected to include a shooting range, classrooms, a fictional village, a course emergency vehicle driving, stables for police horses and a ‘burn the building’ for firefighters to practice putting out fires. The vote followed weeks of deliberation and refusal by the from local activists who dubbed the project “Cop City”.
Stop Cop City ATL, a group that opposes the center, said in an email early Tuesday afternoon that police are “raiding” the encampment and “policing continues to escalate.” .
Protests against the $90million project have continued in recent months, and a group known as ‘forest defenders’ have set up camp at the site, building barricades and at least one treehouse and sabotaging construction equipment.
Protesters say they are worried about the environmental impacts of the massive project around the South River and have criticized the continued investment in policing following social justice movements in recent years.
Police foundation officials said they intend to move the project forward with city support, telling the Atlanta Journal-Constitution earlier this year that when crews begin construction, anyone entering on the site would be stopped.
Over the past few months, protesters have targeted Metro Atlanta businesses that help fund the center, as well as building contractors working with the police foundation.
Schierbaum said the FBI was investigating “attempts to intimidate.”
On Tuesday afternoon, activists held a press conference to denounce the arrests and the construction of the training center. They specifically denounced arrests made by APD officers during a Saturday afternoon protest in Freedom Park, saying the police department was trying to intimidate critics.
“It seems clear that the police are resorting to increasingly extreme tactics,” said Marlon Kautz of the Atlanta Solidarity Fund, a local group that helps arrested protesters.