The Atlanta Police have arrested 23 people for domestic terrorism after what the department says was a “coordinated attack on construction equipment and police officers” at the future site of the Atlanta Public Safety Training Center on Sunday.
The $90 million training facility, nicknamed “Cop City” by activists, will sit on 381 acres in the South River Forest, also known as the Weelaunee Forest.
Anti-police militants and extremist environmentalists have been camping in trees and protesting on the grounds where the construction is meant to occur for over a year, claiming to be defending the forest.
On Sunday, the militant activists set fires to construction equipment. People could reportedly see the billowing smoke from miles away.
1 day into the “week of action” for Stop Cop city in Atlanta.
Rioters reportedly threw molotovs and set fire to construction equipmentpic.twitter.com/0pkz1Gytqc https://t.co/oL8yPahnw6
— AntifaWatch (@AntifaWatch2) March 5, 2023
The attack was part of a planned week-long series of events by Antifa activists who oppose the construction, according to a schedule posted on their website.
The Atlanta Police Department explained in a statement, “on March 5, 2023, a group of violent agitators used the cover of a peaceful protest of the proposed Atlanta Public Safety Training Center to conduct a coordinated attack on construction equipment and police officers. They changed into black clothing and entered the construction area, and began to throw large rocks, bricks, Molotov cocktails, and fireworks at police officers.”
BREAKING 🚨: A massive police response is underway at Atlanta’s Future Public Safety Training Facility in Grant Park where hundreds of Activists and protesters are currently clashing with police to stop Cop city with reports of protesters throwing Molotov cocktails and lighting… https://t.co/j8ARjY8ocU pic.twitter.com/PwK0QHPmi4
— Officer Lew (@officer_Lew) March 5, 2023
“The agitators destroyed multiple pieces of construction equipment by fire and vandalism. Multiple law enforcement agencies deployed to the area and detained several people committing illegal activity. 35 agitators have been detained so far,” the statement continued. “The illegal actions of the agitators could have resulted in bodily harm. Officers exercised restraint and used non-lethal enforcement to conduct arrests.”
Ultimately, 23 people were arrested and subsequently charged with domestic terrorism by the Georgia Bureau of Investigations (GBI).
One of those arrested, Tom Jurgens, appears to be a staff attorney for a far-left extremist organization, the Southern Poverty Law Center — which has historically been used as a source for the FBI on domestic extremism.
One of the Antifa members arrested on domestic terrorism charges in Atlanta last night is a staff attorney with the Southern Poverty Law Center.
The FBI has historically used the SPLC as a source for who should be considered domestic terrorists. pic.twitter.com/y5isk5AHaq
— Greg Price (@greg_price11) March 6, 2023
Only two of the arrestees live in Georgia.
The department added that they expect more protests in the coming days and have “a multi-layered strategy that includes reaction and arrest.”
Five others involved in the protests were arrested and charged with domestic terrorism in December.
At the time of those arrests, the GBI said in a statement that “prior to yesterday’s operation, APD and other agencies had made several arrests over the past few months for the ongoing criminal activity at the site location. Some of the criminal activities include carjacking, various crimes against persons, destruction of property, arson, and attacks against public safety officials. Law enforcement continues to address the criminal acts committed by the individuals that continue to occupy the area of the proposed training site.
Georgia police shot and killed a man while removing protesters from the area of Atlanta’s planned “Cop City,” saying he fired at police and wounded a state trooper.
The movement to resist one of the largest police training facilities in the U.S. began over a year ago. pic.twitter.com/Fe7PxbJ3oZ
— AJ+ (@ajplus) January 19, 2023
In January, as police attempted to clear the encampment, a Georgia State Patrol trooper wearing a bulletproof vest was shot in the abdomen. Other officers returned fire and fatally shot the extremist.
The officer was transported to the hospital for emergency surgery and survived.
Editor’s Note: this article has been updated to include information about Tom Jurgens.