By Allie Griffin
(MAINNEWS) – Protesters hurled bricks and Molotov cocktails at cops and set vehicles on fire Sunday at the site of a future police training facility in Atlanta, officials said critics have dubbed “Cop City.”
The $90 million Atlanta Public Safety Training Center, dubbed “Cop City,” was taken under siege by a group of vandals “using the cover of a peaceful protest” in what Atlanta Police called “a coordinated attack.”
“They changed into black clothing and entered the construction area and began to throw large rocks, bricks, Molotov cocktails and fireworks at police officers,” the department said.
Multiple law enforcement agencies responded and arrested 35 people at the 85-acre construction site on the wooded outskirts of the city.
Videos from the scene captured towering plumes of flames and smoke rising about the fenced-in site.
It’s unclear if anyone was injured, but Atlanta Police noted that the agitators’ path of destruction “could have resulted in bodily harm.”
The protesters descended on the site during a live music festival organized by protesters on day two of a planned week of action to protest the proposed facility.
Both anti-police and environmental activists have been against plans for “Cop City” since they were approved by city council in June 2021.
The center — funded largely by donations to the nonprofit Atlanta Police Foundation — would include classrooms, an amphitheater and training areas for police to role-play real-life scenarios like shoot-outs and high-speed chases.
The proposed site in DeKalb County is located inside 1,000 acres of woods, which environmental activists want to become protected green space.
The fiery end to Sunday’s protests is not the first time demonstrations against the facility have ended in violence.
In January, the confrontation boiled over when a state trooper fatally shot a 26-year-old protester and environmental activist.
Police said Manuel Esteban Paez Terán shot and injured a state trooper before other officers returned fire.
Activists have questioned the police account of the shooting, as well as the lack of body camera footage.