DEKALB COUNTY, Ga. — Several protesters were arrested after they threw a Molotov cocktail at police as officers raided a camp on the grounds of a planned Atlanta Police Department training facility.
NewChopper 2 was over the South River Forest, where there were multiple law enforcement vehicles and at least one ambulance early Friday afternoon.
Protesters have been camped out in the forest for more than seven months.
Police confirmed that eight people were arrested as law enforcement tried to remove them from the property, which is privately owned by the City of Atlanta.
Police said that protesters became combative and that some picked up rocks and at least one Molotov cocktail and threw them at police and contractors working on the project.
“The action today was to remove some illegal structures that had been built on the site,” police said. “Fortunately no one was hurt and the eight individuals arrested were not harmed during this operation.”
Opponents to the Atlanta Public Safety Training Center call the project a “cop city” and say it will destroy hundreds of acres of Atlanta’s largest urban forest. For months, they have denounced the project as a militarization of police and an encroachment on the largest urban forest in Atlanta.
Police say the training facility is crucial to the development of current and future Atlanta police officers and firefighters.
The eight people arrested face charges ranging from criminal trespassing to police obstruction.
The group that organized the protest, Defend the Atlanta Forest Coalition, is the same group tied to recent protests in Freedom Park and to vandalism targeting the construction company that is contracted to build the training facility.
The group held a news conference at Freedom Park Friday afternoon to respond to what they called the “violent mass arrest of peaceful protest against ‘Cop City’ during a march in Little Five Points Saturday.”:
Representatives of the group said that Atlanta police and Georgia State Patrol officers shoved and tackled people, deployed Tasers and threatened neighbors who filmed the arrests.
“The police of Atlanta are completely out of control,” a protester said.
Atlanta police said that the march was in violation of pedestrian laws.
“APD is frustrated at the vocal and effective movement opposing its new police facility, so they’re doing anything they can to shut it down,” says Marlon Kautz of the Atlanta Solidarity Fund. “Atlanta, with its rich legacy of civil rights, is not a place where people should be brutally arrested for peacefully marching.”
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