Prosecutors: Diary shows Defend the Atlanta Forest is a criminal enterprise

Georgia attorney general wants to use Manuel Teran’s diary as evidence in trials of Atlanta Public Safety Training co-defendants.
Prosecutors want to use the diary as proof of what they are calling a criminal enterprise to stop the development of the Atlanta Public Safety Training Center.
Published: Nov. 20, 2023 at 6:34 PM EST|Updated: Nov. 20, 2023 at 8:41 PM EST
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ATLANTA, Ga. (Atlanta News First) - Before their death, Manuel Teran kept a diary that was filled with diatribes against police and other groups, including such statements as “All cops are bastards because they enforce unjust laws by force,” and that white people “behave like modern racists,” according to a motion filed in Fulton County Superior Court.

Now, state prosecutors want to use Teran’s diary as proof of what they are calling a criminal enterprise to stop the development of the Atlanta Public Safety Training Center.

Teran was shot and killed during a protest at the site of the Atlanta Public Safety Training Center in January 2023. Last week, Georgia Deputy Attorney General John Fowler filed the motion in Fulton County Superior Court, arguing Teran’s diary consists “of violent anti-police rhetoric and drawings, notes on meetings in the forest, to do lists regarding various tasks including committing crime, philosophical musings about the tyranny of government, and other personal writings.”

Teran was killed at the site, which critics call “Cop City,” when Georgia State Patrol Troopers were clearing the site on Jan. 18. An autopsy report released in April said Teran had been shot at least 57 times. A previous private autopsy report released in February said that Teran was shot “at least 13 times.”

The construction site has been the center of violence and controversy ever since then-Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms announced a plan in April 2021 that would turn the forested land into a public safety training facility that would include a shooting range, a mock village and a burn center. Opposition immediately arose from environmental groups, neighborhood associations and racial justice groups.

Last week, activists and police had a confrontation involving tear gas during a march by the group “Block Cop City.” The activists gathered Monday morning at Gresham Park to march in protest of the Atlanta Public Safety Training Center. The march followed a weekend full of events by the group “Block Cop City.”

On Nov. 6, almost 60 of the 61 people who have been arrested and charged with various felonies and misdemeanors were arraigned at the Fulton County courthouse. The defendants are facing RICO charges for allegedly violating the state’s Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act, and Georgia Attorney General Chris Carr’s office is the lead prosecuting agency.

Supporters are calling the charges a violation of First Amendment rights.

State prosecutors said Teran’s diary shows “significant evidence of a general and larger conspiracy to occupy the land of the site of the future Atlanta Public Safety Training Center.

“In addition to a shared goal of occupying the land to prevent the construction of the training center, there is evidence of similar clothing, similar and unique violent action tactics, written documents, verbal statements, financial documents, and similar travel patterns and destinations,” the motion states. “Each defendant in this indictment has specific evidence against them, and each defendant is connected to at least one other defendant by incident, communication, personal connection, financial connection, and/or other connection.”

“All of this evidence links the Defendants back to the Defend the Atlanta Forest criminal enterprise.”

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