ATLANTA — Channel 2 Action News has learned that there is a massive investigation underway tied to crimes allegedly committed in protest of the development of the land intended for Atlanta’s new Public Safety Training Center.
Plans call for the state-of-the-art facility to be built on Key Road, in the South River Forest in DeKalb County.
Channel 2 investigative reporter Mark Winne has learned that the Atlanta Police Department, Georgia Bureau of Investigation, FBI, and Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives — along with support from Cobb, DeKalb and Gwinnett County police and other agencies — are involved in a massive investigation into alleged crimes aimed at stopping the construction of a new facility.
A statement from the Atlanta Police Department said:
“There is a multi-jurisdictional investigation into criminal activity at the proposed site of the Atlanta Public Safety Training Center and other related crimes outside of the City of Atlanta.”
But Winne has uncovered extensive new details into the string of alleged crimes.
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A law enforcement source confirms a list of well over a dozen incidents that are part of the local, state and federal investigation into crimes related to efforts to stop the building facility.
Some of those incidents include:
- Protesters throwing a Molotov cocktail at police officers as they attempted to arrest them for trespassing on the grounds of what will be the new training center.
- A fire at the westside At-Promise Center, which is a crime diversion program geared toward supporting at-risk youth in Atlanta.
- Vandalism of the Cobb County office of a building contractor working on the project, and weeks later vandalism at the Cobb County home of an executive.
- On several occasions, barricades or other material on the construction site set on fire on or near the project site.
- Ball bearings propelled via slingshot at a utility van, causing damage.
- Vandalism of the offices of the parent company of a subcontractor working on the project — located in Florida, Nebraska, Minnesota and New York — which included spray-painted phrases alluding to the Atlanta project.
“I think it’s a witch hunt. I want to be clear that I think the police are positioning or putting forth the narrative that criminals are protesting the building of their cop city which allows them to then try to prosecute, arrest, scare off folks who would also be against cop city,” said Kamau Franklin of Community Movement Builders.
Franklin said his group is one of many protesting the project — from community groups to those who consider themselves radicals and anarchists.
“We dispute the police narrative. We think, for them, the purpose is to paint the folks who are protesting as evil or as out there and therefore should not be listened to,” Franklin said.
A statement from a spokesperson for Gov. Brian Kemp says, “The state is actively partnering with law enforcement on all levels, from local to federal, to ensure these criminals are brought to justice, that the surrounding community is a safe place for families, and that this project is not halted or hindered by those with extremist purposes.” It also says: “Rest assured, domestic terrorism will NOT go unchecked or unpunished in Georgia. These criminals and their backers seem to care nothing for public safety and are hiding behind a woke agenda while using tactics of violence and intimidation.”
“We don’t want this facility here,” said a woman who identified herself only as Donna, with the Atlanta Community Press Collective.
Donna said through open records requests, her group has been tracking the massive investigation.
“Our open records requests reveal documents, meeting, agendas that show exactly that,” she said.
Winne learned that dozens of arrests have been made in connection with individual cases over the past 13 months.
Donna said she believes characterizing anyone opposed to the new public safety training center as a terrorist is incorrect and unfair.
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