‘Cop City’: Georgia law enforcement conducts ‘clearing operation’ as construction begins on police facility
Law enforcement in Georgia on Monday conducted a “clearing operation” at the planned site of a $90 million police training facility — dubbed “Cop City” by opponents — nearly three weeks after a similar operation was shut down. Later, the authorities shot dead a protester.
“In an ongoing effort to ensure the site of the future City of Atlanta Public Safety Training Center is safe and secure, the (Georgia Bureau of Investigation), along with other law enforcement partners, conducted an operation to identify those who are trespassing illegally. and/or engaging in criminal activity on the property,” Georgia Bureau of Investigation spokeswoman Nellie Miles said in a statement. “Police made no arrests during this operation. ”
The operation involved Atlanta police, the Georgia State Patrol and a handful of other police, fire and prosecutorial agencies.
Pictures from the scene show heavily armed law enforcement officers as well as construction equipment and crews at the site.
The police operation is the latest effort in a controversial push to build an 85-acre law enforcement facility, complete with a firing range, mock city and burn building, in a wooded area of Atlanta and neighboring DeKalb County.
However, the project has faced fierce opposition from protesters such as “Stop Cop City” due to its environmental impact and further militarization of policing. Opponents have camped at the site for months and tried to block construction on the site, leading to some violent clashes with police and accusations of assault. Domestic terrorism.
About three weeks ago, law enforcement agencies conducted a “clearing operation” and fatally shot Manuel Esteban Pez Tern, a 26-year-old activist who police said had shot a state trooper.
The police killing sparked protests in downtown Atlanta that turned violent, with some in the crowd breaking windows and attacking police vehicles, according to police.
Despite the controversy, Atlanta Mayor Andre Dickens announced last week that the city and DeKalb County police had reached an agreement to move forward with the training facility. According to the mayor, a large part of the 385 acres of land will be preserved greenspace.
“The city of Atlanta has one of the most comprehensive training needs in the Southeast, with our training covering important areas such as de-escalation training techniques, mental health, community-oriented policing, crisis intervention training, as well as civil rights. The teaching of history. Space is needed for this training and that is exactly what this training center is going to offer,” said Dickens.
Details about what transpired during Teran’s fatal encounter with police are unclear.
Teran did not follow verbal commands and then shot a Georgia State Patrol trooper, prompting police to return fire, the Georgia Bureau of Investigation said. The bureau said that the condition of the injured soldier is stable.
According to the bureau, the handgun used in the shooting was purchased by Teran.
At a news conference Monday, attorneys representing Teran’s family criticized the Georgia Bureau of Investigation for failing to release information about the police shooting and ignoring requests to meet with family members.
A private autopsy showed Tarn was shot more than a dozen times by several different weapons, the attorney said.
Teran graduated from Florida State University and was active in environmental causes, said Belkis, Teran’s mother.
“All Manuel wanted to do was protect the forest, preserve the well-being of the land for all people, raise awareness, and help organize different communities. They had no intention of committing any malice or illegal acts,” he said, adding that they were pacifists who had no intention of resorting to violence as a way of defending themselves. “Manuel was the keeper of the forest. Manuel’s heart was full of love for people, animals and trees.
Family attorney Jeff Filipowitz also criticized law enforcement’s heavy use of domestic terrorism charges against protesters occupying the Cope City site.
“We used to call it sit-in. Now that is terrorism,” he said.
After the news conference, the Georgia Bureau of Investigation released a statement promising a full investigation. The bureau also said it had spoken with Teran’s family early in the investigation and would not release the video at this time.
“GBI agents are still in the process of reviewing several bodyworn camera videos associated with this incident,” the statement said. “Any video recovered related to the case, to include audio, will be analyzed as part of the investigative process. We are not releasing any video at this time because agents are conducting key interviews and want to maintain the integrity of the investigation.
Investigations into officer-involved shootings typically take 60 to 90 days, the bureau said. Once completed, the case file will be handed over to a special prosecutor, the bureau said.
Correction: A previous version of this article included references that misidentified Manuel Esteban Pez Tern. This story has been updated to correct a description of the city’s police training techniques.