Outside protesters help local protesters fight police training center

SOUTH ATLANTA, Ga. (CBS46) — Protesters against plans to build an Atlanta police training facility in DeKalb County are getting help from out-of-state protesters.

Protesters gathered along Old Constitution Road near where the training center is expected to be built on Tuesday. Protesters formed a caravan of cars and trucks, lining the road – as police looked on.

It is at the same location where about two weeks ago security cameras captured dramatic video of what police said were protesters throwing what appear to be Molotov cocktails and rocks at their officers.

“It’s a shame if and when there is violence. And I think those incidents are pretty minor,” said local protester Joe Peery.

Joe Peery lives near the site. He does not want the facility to be built. He worries about deforestation. He feels his local government is not listening to him and his neighbors, so he welcomes outside help.

“People coming from other states and other countries who have had pipeline issues, Red Wood Forest, you know trying to save these natural areas. And they come and show people how to do it and they’re welcome,” Peery said.

The training center – which protesters are calling Cop City – will include classrooms, a shooting range, an emergency vehicle driving course and more. Kwame Olufemi relates to the organization Community Movement Builders. He sees the planned center as an escalation towards the militarization of the police.

“It’s extremely important for us to organize against Cop City because for us it’s important to recognize that the police are a militarized apparatus in our communities,” Olufemi said. “They are not welcome in our communities and they often cause more harm in our neighborhood, in fact not often, they always cause more harm in our neighborhood than any kind of security for us.”

In a statement to CBS46, Atlanta police said they have no plans to halt construction.

“The Atlanta Police Department supports every citizen’s right to peaceful and legal protest. Atlanta is home to civil rights protests and other social justice movements. It’s in our DNA. We understand the need for people to come together and make their voices heard. Our role is public safety. We intervene when the law is broken. We, together with our law enforcement partners, the Atlanta Police Foundation, stakeholders, officials and community supporters, will continue to move forward with the mission of build this state-of-the-art public safety training center that will allow us to teach and train recruits and our permanent police and firefighters in a safe, aesthetically pleasing and technically capable environment to advance public safety training. The goal is to equip the brave men and women who are called to a career as public servants with the skills and knowledge they need to respond to community 911 service calls and to provide the training they need to ensure the citizen safety.

-Atlanta Police Department

The training center should open at the end of 2023.

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