DeKalb County Sheriff responds to protests at DeKalb County Jail

Protestors outside the DeKalb County Jail.
Protestors outside the DeKalb County Jail.(Atlanta News First)
Published: Mar. 8, 2023 at 10:10 PM EST
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DECATUR, Ga. (Atlanta News First) - UPDATE: DeKalb County Sheriff Melody Maddox has released the following statement:

“As the Community Sheriff, I would like to report to the citizens of DeKalb County regarding the sheriff’s office response to last night’s protest.

Last night on March 8th, a number of individuals gathered outside the DeKalb County Sheriff’s Office. These individuals indicated they were part of a group of protestors, who have demonstrated at the proposed site of the Atlanta Public Safety Training Center – which is located in DeKalb County.

There were 23 protestors arrested by other law enforcement agencies on Monday, March 6th at the proposed site of the Atlanta Public Safety Training Center, who are being housed in the DeKalb County Jail on charges of Domestic Terrorism.

Midday on Wednesday, the DeKalb Sheriff’s office was made aware of a pending protest, which is the latest in some 5 other similar incidents that we have had to manage – and we have done so without damage to any county facilities, or injury to any officer, citizen or person in custody.

In summary:

• Last evening was highlighted by a peaceful gathering on the sidewalks that did not interfere with traffic or violate restrictions regarding facility guard lines. The sheriff’s office was prepared – as we always are – to monitor the incident and to make arrests should any laws be broken.

• It was clear the protestors were focusing on persons in custody – and some of those persons in custody took advantage of the situation to respond by expelling burning objects from a broken cell window. Our on-the-scene personnel addressed the incident immediately. We are investigating that behavior and will take appropriate action with the inmates who threw those objects.

• Also, during the evening, there were visual messages projected onto the walls of the jail. This action is in violation of a state ordinance and we intend to identify the perpetrators and hold them accountable for that behavior.

• We understand that there may be further instances of protests. Peaceful protest is not against the law and will not be prohibited. However, we will continue to uphold our mandate to ensure the safety of the citizens of this community and the persons in our custody.

At the DeKalb County Sheriff’s Office, we will always operate in Excellence, Accountability and Respect – with no tolerance for those who break the law or threaten the safety of our citizens, the security of this office, the staff or the incarcerated persons.”

ORIGINAL STORY: Protesters are gathered outside of the Dekalb County Jail.

They are there supporting the 23 people arrested during last weekend’s protest over the planned Atlanta Police Training Facility. Several people gathered outside the jail and gave speeches in support of the protesters.

A projector also showed messages such as “STOP COP CITY,” “DROP ALL THE CHARGES” and “FOREST DEFENSE IS SELF-DEFENSE.”

Over two dozen people appeared before a Dekalb County judge Tuesday in connection to an incident at the site of the future Atlanta Public Safety Training Facility.

According to a statement released by Southern Poverty Law Center, (SPLC), an employee was acting as a legal observer on behalf of the National Lawyers Guild (NLG) at the time of the incident.

The SPLC released the following statement:

“We are pleased that the DeKalb County assistant district attorney (ADA) agreed to a consent bond for Tom Jurgens. As we previously stated, Tom was performing a public service, documenting potential violations of protesters’ rights. We are outraged that police officers present at the protest refused to acknowledge Tom’s role as a legal observer and instead chose to arrest him. We are confident that the evidence will demonstrate he was a peaceful legal observer.”