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Five Protesters Opposing Construction of Atlanta Police Department Training Facility Charged With Domestic Terrorism

Five people protesting the construction of a new Atlanta Police Department training facility have been charged with domestic terrorism.

The Georgia Bureau of Investigation announced the charges on Wednesday.

In a press release about the arrests, the GBI alleged that protesters had been involved in a series of serious criminal activities, including “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.”

Protests, including tree sitting, have been going on at the site for several months.

On Tuesday, the GBI said that their agents had assisted APD and other local, state, and task force members “in an operation to remove barricades blocking some of the entrances to the training center.”

“Yesterday, several people threw rocks at police cars and attacked EMT’s outside the neighboring fire stations with rocks and bottles,” the statement explained. “Task force members used various tactics to arrest individuals who were occupying makeshift treehouses.”

The protesters appear to be a mix of anti-police demonstrators and environmental activists who oppose the destruction of the forest to build the training grounds.

The arrests were part of a joint operation involving the GBI, Atlanta Police Department, FBI, the Georgia Attorney General’s Office, the DeKalb County Police Department, the DeKalb County District Attorney’s Office, the Georgia State Patrol, and the Department of Natural Resources.

Only one of the protesters charged with domestic terrorism appears to live in Georgia.

  • Francis Carroll, 22, of Maine, has been charged with Criminal Trespass, Domestic Terrorism, Aggravated Assault, Felony Obstruction, Interference with Government Property, and Possession of Tools for the Commission of the Crime.
  • Nicholas Olson, 25, of Nebraska, has been charged with Domestic Terrorism, Aggravated Assault, Interference with Government Property, and Obstruction.
  • Serena Hertel, 25, of California, has been charged with Criminal Trespass, Domestic Terrorism, Aggravated Assault, Obstruction, and Inciting a Riot.
  • Arieon Robinson, 22, of Wisconsin, has been charged with Criminal Trespass, Obstruction, and Domestic Terrorism.
  • Leonardo Vioselle, 20, of Macon, Georgia, has been charged with Criminal Trespass, Domestic Terrorism, and Possession of Tools of the Crime.

The GBI said that after police cleared the area of the protest, which included makeshift treehouses, they found explosive devices, gasoline, and road flares.

The agency added that the joint investigation is “active and ongoing.”

“Anyone with information is encouraged to contact local law enforcement or the GBI at 1-800-597-TIPS,” the press release added.

Marlon Kautz of the Atlanta Solidarity Fund, which provides legal support for people arrested during protests, told Fox 5 Atlanta that the protestors were “unarmed and not violent.”

“We’ve seen over the past year or so, during the course of the protest movement against cop city, that the police have been engaging in a deliberate campaign to demonize the protest movement,” Kautz said.

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