Police officers from state and local law enforcement agencies teamed up Monday to clear out a public park near the planned Atlanta public safety training center after it was closed by DeKalb County CEO Michael Thurmond.
Thurmond issued an executive order on March 24 closing Intrenchment Creek Park in the South River Forest due to “dangerous and possible life-threatening conditions.” The park is in DeKalb County and adjacent to city-owned property where Atlanta is building a $90 million training center for police and firefighters.
Opponents of the training center have congregated at Intrenchment Creek Park for over a year to protest construction of what they call “Cop City.” In recent months, several clashes between protesters and police in and around the park have resulted in dozens of arrests.
DeKalb County also agreed to a controversial land swap of dozens of acres of Intrenchment Creek Park in 2021 to a movie studio. The South River Forest Alliance is fighting the land swap in court.
Thurmond said Intrenchment Creek Park and adjacent county-owned land are potentially full of hidden traps. He said he wants to ensure it is safe before reopening it to the public.
“We take this very serious action because we know there are dangers that have been discovered in this area and we are afraid that there might be other hidden traps that will not only injure and maim but could literally become deadly for children, pets and others,” Thurmond said at a March 24 press conference.
Officers on Monday found a Molotov cocktail, boards covered with nails, and syringes containing fentanyl, according to a DeKalb County press release.
Two people were arrested for being in the park illegally and three people agreed to leave the park voluntarily, according to the county. One vehicle was towed.
It is not clear how many days the task force will be at the park or when the park might reopen. Once DeKalb County Department of Parks, Recreation and Cultural Affairs and the DeKalb Police Department determine the park is safe for the public to visit, Thurmond’s executive order will be rescinded, according to the county.
The DeKalb County Police Department headed up the multi-jurisdictional task force for clearing out the park. Other agencies involved are the Georgia State Patrol, the Georgia Bureau of Investigation, Georgia Department of Natural Resources, Atlanta Police Department, DeKalb County District Attorney’s Office, DeKalb County Sheriff’s Office, Dekalb County Fire Rescue, Brookhaven Police Department, Dunwoody Police Department, Fulton County Sheriff’s Office, Johns Creek Police Department and the Sandy Springs Police Department.
DeKalb County departments participating were Parks, Recreation and Cultural Affairs, Sanitation and Facilities Management.
DeKalb County Police Chief Mirtha Ramos said the goals of the multi-jurisdictional task force are to tell anyone in the restricted area to leave the park or face arrest; tow away unauthorized vehicles; secure entrances and exits from the property with cement barricades; post signs on the properties banning public access and parking; and begin inspecting the park and adjacent county-owned properties for hidden traps or other devices “designed to injure, maim, or cause the death of adults, children and pets on the property.”