‘Outnumbered’ panelists sound off after rioters launched an all-out assault against the Atlanta police training facility dubbed ‘cop city’
Vandals in Atlanta hurled bricks and Molotov cocktails at police officers and set cars on fire on Sunday in protest of an 85-acre training complex for the city’s police and fire departments.
It’s the latest in a series of attacks against the facility, which has been dubbed “Cop City” by its detractors.
The planned $90 million complex has been the ire of environmentalists and anti-police activists since 2021, when the Atlanta City Council approved the complex in June of that year. The facility is primarily being funded by donations to the nonprofit Atlanta Police Foundation and will include an amphitheater, classrooms and training areas for police to carry out simulated crime situations, such as shootouts, the New York Post reported.
A coalition of left-wing activists soon moved into the woods after the decision was announced, according to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, in a bid to prevent the construction. Other left-wing activists such as antifa members, criminal justice reform activists and other environmentalists have also become involved in the protests, the New York Times reported last week.
Protests at “Cop City” hit a fever pitch back in January, when a state trooper shot and killed an environmental activist named Manuel Esteban Paez Teran, 26, who reportedly went by the name Tortuguita and identified as non-binary. Teran was shot after allegedly refusing demands from authorities and firing a gun at state troopers.
The future Atlanta Public Safety and Training Facility called, “Cop City,” was the scene of a large police presence on Sunday as equipment burned and protestors clashed with officers. (Billy Heath / FOX 5 Atlanta)
A Georgia State Patrol trooper, who was wearing a bulletproof vest, was also shot in the abdomen and left injured.
Republican Gov. Brian Kemp declared a state of emergency over the violence that month, authorizing up to 1,000 members of the Georgia National Guard to be called upon for any other potential incidents of violence. The order remained in effect until Feb. 9.
At least 19 people had been arrested and charged with domestic terrorism since December to March 5 in connection to protests and riots against the project, including six who were arrested during a riot in Atlanta.
SOUTH RIVER FOREST AND CLAIMS PROJECT WILL PROMOTE THE MILITARIZATION OF POLICE FORCE
The planned project has galvanized environmentalists and anti-police protesters to stand together against the project. Anti-cop protesters say the police tactics learned at the facility will not lead to a decrease in crime and have slammed the project as one that promotes the militarization of the police department.
“To be clear — cop city is not just a controversial training center. It is a war base where police will learn military-like maneuvers to kill black people and control our bodies and movements.” Kwame Olufemi, of Community Movement Builders – a group that advocates for police forces to be defunded and “eventually” abolished – states on the site “Stop Cop City.”
Firefighters work to extinguish a fire after an Atlanta police vehicle was set on fire during a “Stop cop city” protest in Atlanta, Georgia, United States on January 21, 2023. Multiple buildings were vandalized and an Atlanta police vehicle was set on fire as multiple arrests were made. (Benjamin Hendren/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images)
“The facility includes shooting ranges, plans for bomb testing, and will practice tear gas deployment. They are practicing how to make sure poor and working class people stay in line. So when the police kill us in the streets again, like they did to Rayshard Brooks in 2020, they can control our protests and community response to how they continually murder our people,” Olufemi added.
Environmentalists say the facility will destroy the South River Forest, also called the “Weelaunee” by the Muscogee Creek people.
“The period of planetary climate collapse that we are all living in will continue to pose urgent and unsettling questions to our species as we fight for dignity in a world of increasingly dangerous wildfires, floods, hurricanes, earthquakes, and mass extinction. Rather than address the problems as they really present themselves, world and local leaders are hurling us into the fire,” the group “Defend the Atlanta Forest” states on its website.
In this aerial view, a structure sits on land owned by the city of Atlanta, Thursday, Jan. 26, 2023, in unincorporated DeKalb County. The Atlanta City Council has approved plans to lease the land to the Atlanta Police Foundation so it can build a state-of-the-art police and firefighter training center, a project that protesters derisively call “Cop City.” (AP Photo/Danny Karnik)
Last year, vandals targeted the office of a contractor working on the facility, breaking windows at the Birmingham, Alabama, office and scrawling graffiti on the building, Fox 5 reported. The contractor said the incident caused $80,000 in damages.
Their demands were clearly written in one graffiti message at the office: “Drop Cop City or Else.”
Stop Cop City posted an open letter to its website this year calling for Atlanta to cancel the lease for the planned project. A handful of liberal activist groups signed the letter, including A World Without Police, the Unitarian Universalist Association, NW Yonkers for Black Lives Matter, and the ikiyA collective – which describes itself as a “group of femme, queer, two-spirit Black, Indigenous, and people of the global majority.”
Atlanta police released video of fires set to equipment at the construction site of a police and fire training facility dubbed “Cop City.” (Atlanta Police Department)
Defend the Atlanta Forest did not immediately respond to Fox News Digital’s request for comment. A contact option on Stop Cop City’s website only redirects to its open letter, with no apparent contact information on its website.
‘INTERNATIONAL GROUP OF PEOPLE’
This week, protesters will reportedly carry out a “week of action” against the planned facility, with state leaders gearing up to “hold everybody accountable that is engaged in violent activity,” according to Georgia Attorney General Chris Carr.
At least 35 people were detained for the violence on Sunday, and some of those allegedly involved were from foreign countries. The Atlanta Police Department on Monday released the booking photos of 23 people who were charged with domestic terrorism for the incidents the day prior.
“Some of those arrested yesterday were from Massachusetts and New York and France and Canada. So this is a national network, an international group of people that are organized to come to our state to undermine a public safety training center,” Carr said in an appearance on Fox News Monday morning.
‘THIS WAS ABOUT ANARCHY’
Atlanta Police Chief Darin Schierbaum said the violence seen on Sunday marked a “significant escalation” in violence and the number of suspects involved.
“This wasn’t about a public safety training center. This was about anarchy, and this was about an attempt to destabilize. And we are addressing that quickly,” Schierbaum told reporters Sunday. “Actions such as this will not be tolerated. You attack law enforcement officers, you damage equipment, you are breaking the law. This was a very violent attack that occurred this evening.”
Schierbaum said he has been clear on what a protest is versus violence, and that “legitimate protests” would have the “the full protection of the Atlanta Police Department.”
Police say at least 35 “agitators” arrested in attack on “Cop City.” (Atlanta Police Department)
Instead, Schierbaum said the incidents on Sunday were “criminal activity.”
“This is not a protest. This is criminal activity. And the charges that will be brought forth will show that,” he said.
Both Schierbaum and Carr have highlighted to the media this week that the majority of suspects detained on Sunday were not from the state of Georgia, let alone Atlanta. Out of the 23 charged, two were from the Peach State.
“We have video of all these individuals and we will continue to investigate this case based on all the facts and evidence that we have. And we will hold everybody accountable that is engaged in violent activity. This is not peaceful protest,” Carr said Monday on Fox News’ “America’s Newsroom.” “Protesters use words, rioters use violence. And again, in Georgia, you can be charged with domestic terrorism for engaging in this type of behavior.”
RESOLUTION TO DESIGNATE ANTIFA AS TERRORIST ORGANIZATION
The attacks on Sunday spurred Republican Georgia Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene to announce she will introduce a resolution that would formally designate antifa as a terrorist organization.
Representative Marjorie Taylor Greene, a Republican from Georgia, was photographed in the same outfit as the one she was pictured in with Sajak at a Donald Trump rally in Pennsylvania on September 3. (Michelle Gustafson/Bloomberg via Getty Images)
“Antifa are domestic terrorists and I’m introducing my resolution to officially declare them a terrorist organization on Tuesday,” the congresswoman wrote in a tweet Sunday night.
“This is domestic terrorism. It was planned for weeks and announced on social media. Antifa are self proclaimed communists and consistently organize to attack our government over and over again. They should be taken seriously and not tolerated anymore,” Taylor Greene added.
It has not been confirmed by state officials whether members of antifa have taken part in the violence in Atlanta. Fox News Digital reached out to the AG’s office but did not immediately receive a reply.