Dramatic footage released by the Atlanta Police Department Sunday night showed the moment Antifa protesters dressed in all black broke into the construction site for a proposed police training facility.
Nearly 150 rioters could be seen in the video posted to Facebook dressed in all black or camouflage and wearing ski masks entered the site of Atlanta’s future Public Safety Training Facility — dubbed Cop City by those who protest its development — and immediately set off fireworks.
Just a few moments later, the fireworks start to explode near where cops are stationed. Some of the group could later be seen gathering riot shields, as they motioned for others to join them.
Once they were together, they started throwing Molotov cocktails at a construction vehicle and ran away as it was left on fire. Other videos posted online showed a police surveillance tower on fire, sending smoke billowing nearby.
In the end 35 people were arrested, the Atlanta Police Department reports.
Antifa rioters fled after setting construction vehicles on fire with Molotov cocktails Sunday night in Atlanta
Some of the demonstrators could be seen breaking through the gats of the proposed police training center
The rioters donned all black or camouflage cloths with ski masks as they carried riot shields
In a statement, Atlanta Police said: ‘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.
‘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 agitators destroyed multiple pieces of construction equipment by fire and vandalism,’ the police continued, noting: ‘The illegal actions of the agitators could have resulted in bodily harm.’
Police insisted the ‘officers exercised restraint and used non-lethal enforcement to conduct arrests.’
And, the Atlanta Police Department said: ‘With protests planned for the coming days, the Atlanta Police Department in collaboration with law enforcement partners have a multi-layered strategy that includes reaction and arrest.
‘The Atlanta Police Department asks for this week’s protests to remain peaceful.’
In the aftermath, controversial Congresswoman Marjorie Taylor Green announced she is sponsoring a bill to declare Antifa a terrorist organization.
‘This is domestic terrorism,’ she wrote of the riots in Atlanta Sunday night. ‘It was planned for weeks and announced on social media.’
She added that ‘Antifa are domestic terrorists, and I’m introducing my bill to officially declare them a terrorist organization on Tuesday.
Meanwhile, protesters posted online how police arrived as the sun descended Sunday night and surrounded those enjoying a music festival at the site. They allegedly threatened legal observers with arrest.
Photos and videos from the scene showed police forcing people to the ground and throwing people in the back of police vans.
Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene took to Twitter in the aftermath to claim the protesters were Antifa
Atlanta police are seen heavily armed in the aftermath of the riots on Sunday
Cops seen at the ‘Cop City’ site in Atlanta pinning a person down and arresting them on Sunday night
Atlanta police officers are pictured at the scene of a proposed training facility that was burned down Sunday night
The charred remains of what appears to be a police vehicle on the scene are pictured
Cops are pictured with their guns drawn scouring the site of the proposed facility
Heavily-armed police in riot gear descended on the scene after rioters set fire to a construction vehicle and a surveillance tower
Georgia State Troopers lined up at the site as people protested against them
Police are pictured arriving at the site of the music festival Sunday night
The dramatic confrontation between police and protesters comes as individuals and activist organizations descend on the proposed site for a ‘week of action’ to protest its development.
The altercation comes during a week of planned protests
‘This is the first week of action since the state killed someone,’ Marlon Kautz, an organizer with Atlanta Solidarity Fund told The Guardian, referring to the police-involved killing of Manuel Paez Teran in January.
A private autopsy showed he was shot 13 times.
Authorities have asserted Teran — who identified as nonbinary — opened fire at a Georgia State Patrol trooper during a ‘clearing operation’ of the so-called autonomous zone at the site of the $90million project.
‘The entire character, mood and status of the struggle has transformed dramatically… [and] feels much more real — to us and to the state,’ Kautz said.
The week of action was set to include a Jewish Shabbat service on Friday night, herbal workshops and a ‘know your rights’ workshop.
As the fiery riot broke out Sunday night, a Weelaunee Music Festival was scheduled for the protesters who have descended into the woods in recent months.
Violent protests erupted in Atlanta, Georgia, following the shooting of 26-year-old Manuel Esteban Paez Teran
During the multi-agency operation GBI said approximately 25 campsites were located and removed from the site. Seven others were arrested and charged with domestic terrorism and criminal trespass, with additional charges pending (pictured)
Atlanta Police Chief Darin Schierbaum addresses the media after Sunday’s demonstrations
Protesters set fire to a police surveillance tower at the site of a proposed police training facility in Atlanta
Demonstrators, who have set up a group called ‘Stop Cop City’, say the 381 acres of Weelaunee Forest is ‘stolen Muscogee land’ and that the creation would mean the destruction of wildlife and forestry.
They have become increasingly violent since they first descended on the woods last spring, with 19 people arrested on domestic terrorism charges since December.
Seven of those arrests emanated from a violent riot in downtown Atlanta on January 21, sparked by Teran’s death. Several had ties to Antifa and were charged with domestic terrorism and criminal trespass.
- Geoffrey Parsons, age 20, of Maryland
- Timothy Murphy, age 25, of Maine
- Spencer Bernard Liberto, age 29, of Pennsylvania
- Matthew Ernest Macar, age 30, of Pennsylvania
- Sarah Wasilewski, age 35, of Pennsylvania
- Christopher Reynolds, age 31, of Ohio
- Teresa Shen, age 31, of New York
Three other people contacted in connection with explosives were asked to provide their names to authorities and then let go.
Rioters were seen at the time setting a police car on fire and vandalizing property.
Authorities say protesters, dressed all in black, threw rocks at a building that houses the Atlanta Police Foundation in a protest
The militant environmentalists say they are trying to protect the forest, as well as the South River, which is endangered.
Members of the South River Watershed Alliance have worked for years to preserve the area, and say the training center can be created without destroying the surroundings.
Jacqueline Echols, the board president of the South River Watershed Alliance, said in a statement: ‘I remain steadfast in my belief that the desired training can be accomplished without destroying the acreage at the prison farm.
‘Balanced and equitable consideration must be given to the protection of the local ecosystem, the cultural and historical significance of the property, and health and wellbeing of the residents of the surrounding neighborhoods.’
Stop Cop City activists also say that the City of Atlanta has ‘leased’ the land – something the Mayor’s office has denied, saying that the City in unincorporated DeKalb County owns it.
It stretches 85 acres into DeKalb County woods and is known as the Old Atlanta Prison Farm, where prisoners would work in poor conditions in the 20th century.
Prisoners helped to make the facility self-sustaining in 1935, with the penitentiary being officially shuttered in 1995. It has been abandoned ever since.
Devastating fires also hit the property in 2009 and 2017 – illegal trash had been dumped and caused a huge blaze, which meant the site was sealed off until the plans for the training site were approved.
A mock city will be included in the new site, which has been the cause of months of unrest and controversy
The large-scale construction will be used to train officials from the Atlanta Police Department and the Atlanta Fire and Rescue Department
Atlanta Police’s huge construction project was announced in November 2021 and is expected to open at the end of 2023 after a difficult two-year process.
It will have extensive facilities and a mock city and fire station so emergency services can better train their staff.
It will also include:
- An Emergency Vehicle Operations Course (EVOC) for fire and police driving training;
- A training and education center with modular design enabling classroom, auditorium, seminar education and training;
- Academy housing for police, fire/rescue recruits;
- The Atlanta Police Leadership Institute;
- Indoor and outdoor shooting ranges;
- A fitness center for sworn officers;
- Stables and pastureland to house for mounted patrol;
- A kennel and indoor/outdoor training center for canine unit;
- Greenspace open to the public, featuring trails, ballfields, picnic areas;
- Facilities available for rent to law enforcement agencies and the public; and
- A community watch training program for our communities.