Activists clashed with police on Monday morning during a day of action planned to protest the ongoing construction of the Atlanta public safety training facility they’ve dubbed “Cop City.”
DeKalb County officials issued a news release that said protestors began an unpermitted march on Constitution Road at about 10:30 a.m. toward the site blocking two of four lanes of traffic.
Police used tear gas and flash-bang grenades to stop hundreds of “Block Cop City” protesters as they tried to march onto the city of Atlanta-owned property in south DeKalb County.
The protesters marched roughly two miles from the Gresham Park Recreation Center along a portion of the South River Trail and then took over busy Constitution Road as they made their way toward the now-closed Intrenchment Creek Park, near the training center’s location.
Dozens of DeKalb County Police in riot gear were lined up at West Side Place, near the county’s Fire Department 10, waiting for the marchers. Armored vehicles and police cars lined the streets. Helicopters buzzed overhead.
The marchers, many wearing masks and some in helmets and plastic coveralls, made their way toward the police. They carried large banners held together with PVC pipes and as they neared police, the protesters aligned the signs together like a spear and attempted to break through the police blockade.
The clash lasted several minutes before police fired tear gas into the crowd and people dispersed quickly into the wooded area alongside the road. A flash bang grenade was shot into the crowd as well as more tear gas, forcing the protesters to retreat further.
At 10:50 a.m., protestors were informed via loudspeaker that they were obstructing the roadway and that they would not be permitted to proceed, according to the news release.
“The protestors ignored the commands by DeKalb County Police and began to force their way through a line of 30 DeKalb County Police officers,” the county said. That’s when police deployed tear gas canisters to disperse the protesters. At about 11:45 a.m., protesters began walking back to Gresham Park.
There have been no arrests and no injuries were reported, according to DeKalb County.
Opponents of the training center are awaiting a decision from the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals on whether or not a referendum on the facility will be put on a ballot for a citywide vote. More than 100,000 signatures were collected in support of the referendum, but the city has refused to verify them until a ruling is made by the court.
Meanwhile, Mayor Andre Dickens said last month that the training center was 40% complete and vertical construction would begin in January.
Nearly 60 “Cop City” protesters indicted on racketeering charges related to previous protests appeared in court last week.