Outside protesters help local protesters fight against police training center

Published: Jun. 7, 2022 at 6:52 PM EDT
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SOUTH ATLANTA, Ga. (CBS46) – Protestors against the planned construction of an Atlanta Police training facility in DeKalb County are getting help from protestors out of state.

Protesters gathered on Tuesday along Old Constitution Road near where the training facility is slated to be built. The protesters formed a caravan of cars and trucks, lining the road – as police watched on.

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

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

Joe Peery lives nearby the site. He doesn’t want the facility built. He worries about deforestation. He feels his local government isn’t listening to him and his neighbors, so he welcomes the outside help.

“People coming from other states and other countries and dealt with pipeline issues, Red Wood Forest, you know trying to save these natural spaces. And they’re coming and showing people how to do it and they’re being welcomed,” said Peery.

The training facility - which protestor call Cop City - will include classrooms, a shooting range, an emergency vehicle driving course, and more. Kwame Olufemi is about the organization Community Movement Builders. He see the planned center as an escalation into the militarization of police.

“It’s extremely important to us to organize against Cop City because for us it’s important recognize that the police are a militarized apparatus in our communities,” said Olufemi. “They’re not welcome into our communities and they often times bring more harm into our neighborhood, actually not often times, they always bring more harm into our neighborhood than any kind of safety 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 a peaceful and lawful protest. Atlanta is the home of civil rights protests and other social justice movements. It is in our DNA. We understand the need for people to assemble and have their voices heard. Our role is public safety. We intervene when the law is broken. We, in conjunction with our law enforcement partners, the Atlanta Police Foundation, stakeholders, public officials, and community supporters, will continue to move forward with the mission of constructing this state-of-the-art public safety training facility that will allow us to teach and train recruits and our tenured police officers and firefighters in an environment that is safe, aesthetically pleasing and technically capable of moving public safety training forward. 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 the community’s 911 calls for service and provide the training they need to keep citizens safe.”

-Atlanta Police Department

The training facility is scheduled to open in late 2023.