23 charged with domestic terrorism at site of proposed training facility; faith leaders weigh in
Police arrested over 30 people Sunday and charged 23 with domestic terrorism after protestors at the proposed police training facility southeast of downtown Atlanta set fire to vehicles including a police car and construction equipment.
On Monday, the Georgia Bureau of Investigation released the names, ages and resident states of those charged with domestic terrorism. Of those 23 people, only two are Georgia residents and two others came from Canada and France, with the rest of the list traveling from as far away as Arizona and Maine.
Continued dissent from civic groups and organizations
In response to the arrests, several Atlanta faith leaders gathered at City Hall Monday afternoon demanding the city stop construction of the new public safety training center. This came after activists held a two-day music festival on disputed land this past weekend as part of a planned week of protest action.
During Monday's press conference, the group of faith leaders called on the city to listen to the community and meet their list of demands. Clergy members asked for all charges against the protestors to be dropped, the training center project to be discontinued, and the land on the South River Forest site to be returned to the Muscogee tribe.
Baptist minister Leo Seyij Allen lives in Atlanta. They said the implications are concerning for the public if the proposed project moves forward.
“We are profoundly troubled by the use of military tactics and escalated legal charges on members of our community, suppressing legitimate resistance while at the same time clear-cutting the forest trees,” Allen said.
Several civil liberties organizations, including Human Rights Watch, signed a letter warning severe charges such as domestic terrorism could “erode first amendment freedoms."
Community bloggers shared updates on Twitter Sunday as the protesters marched toward the site of the proposed facility Sunday.
This weekend's events were covered by The New York Times and The Wall Street Journal, which framed the conversation as "Atlanta 'Cop City' Cases Test Use of Domestic-Terrorism Charges Against Protestors."
Lawmakers and law enforcement seek stricter oversight of protesting
Last week at the Georgia Capitol, legislation elevating the crime of rioting from a misdemeanor to a felony cleared the Republican-controlled House of Representatives. House Bill 505 passed 98-73 along party lines and has advanced to the state Senate.
Monday afternoon, the Atlanta Police Department shared aerial footage of the protesters at the public safety training facility in addition to the mug shots of those arrested.
APD also shared a request for protesters in a Facebook post: “With protests planned for the coming days, the Atlanta Police Department, in collaboration with law enforcement partners, have a multi-layered strategy that includes reaction and arrests. The Atlanta Police Department asks for this week’s protests to remain peaceful.”
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This is a developing story.