DEKALB COUNTY, Ga. — Business owners in DeKalb County say they are tired of being the targets of violence and crimes.
Channel 2 Investigative Reporter Mark Winne spoke with Larry Kaiser, the Executive Director of the Metro South Community Improvement District, who says they have sent a strongly worded letter to DeKalb County CEO Michael Thurmond.
Kaiser says the group, which represents about 300 business owners, wants the county to follow the law when it comes to problems affecting the area.
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Former film studio owner Ryan Millsap, who says he is a member of the Metro South CID, told Channel 2 that he brought in heavy machinery back in July to work on a piece of property he got from the county during a land swap.
He says he had to call police to remove dozens of people encamped on his land. He believes they were protestors who were upset by the land swap.
Millsap says those people threw things at him and police and set his machinery on fire.
Kaiser says another film studio, Shadow Box Studios, has also been targeted.
DeKalb County Fire Rescue Captain Jaeson Daniels says an October fire at Shadow Box Studios has been determined to be arson.
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Kaiser’s August 31 letter reads, in part,
“We ask that you take immediate action to quell the acts of violence, destruction, and intimidation initiated by the radical environmental activists that has taken place on public and private properties within and adjacent to the district boundaries of the CID.”
It goes on to suggest that certain acts must be stopped before there is further violence.
“The Atlanta Radio Control Club property has been destroyed and members no longer have access to the space...They may not survive the financial impact of the damage caused by these eco-terrorists,” the letter continues.
“We also have a transportation project that’s gonna be undertaken very soon a half a mile down the road on Constitution, and so we were worried about the contractors’ equipment,” Kaiser told Winne.
Thurmond says the county appreciates the leadership of the Metro South CID and takes seriously the concerns they have raised. He says he wants to reassure DeKalb County residents and businesses that DeKalb Public Safety leaders are working closely with federal, state and local partners to protect their safety and welfare.
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Sources tell Channel 2 that there are more than a dozen incidents that are part of a local, state and federal investigation into crimes related to efforts to stop the building of a new Atlanta Public Safety training center on land in DeKalb County owned by the City of Atlanta.
Kaiser says the problems his letter is about occurred on properties near the planned site of the training center. He says the Metro South CID has never taken a position on the proposed APD center.
A spokesman for the governor’s office emailed Winne a statement on Friday that said,
“The MSCID rightfully calls out these pretend ‘protesters’ for what they truly are – domestic and eco-terrorists using violence and intimidation to advance a radical agenda. These community and business leaders have valid concerns, and those concerns should not be ignored or go unaddressed. The Governor’s Office is actively working with state and local partners to ensure these criminals will face justice.”
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