Protesters throw rocks and Molotov cocktails at a large police training center in Atlanta

Police arrested at least 35 people after violent protests Sunday against a planned police training center in Atlanta. The demonstrators threw stones and Molotov cocktails at the large square and at the policemen. The police announced this on Monday. Tensions surrounding the project have been building for years.

GVsource: BELGA

“A group of violent rioters under the guise of a peaceful protest carried out a coordinated attack on construction equipment and construction officers,” Atlanta police said in a news release.

Since 2021 and the first announcement of the construction of a training center on an area of ​​more than 34 hectares, protests against the project, dubbed ‘Cop City’ by opponents, have escalated. Opponents, who sometimes mount themselves on trees that are being cut down, fear an environmental catastrophe and a waste of money for the police, and not for the real needs of the population.

In January, police shot dead Manuel Esteban Páez Terán, a protester who was camping in a forest that was slated to be partially destroyed. Georgia authorities say the protester shot an officer in the stomach before police returned fire. Other protesters dismiss the police account, citing the peaceful activist’s profile. An independent autopsy revealed that Manuel Esteban Paez Terán was shot 13 times with various weapons, the family’s attorney said.

The black-clad protesters were “armed with fireworks, rocks, Molotov cocktails and other things,” Atlanta Police Chief Darren Sherbaum told a news conference Sunday. “This is not a protest, this is criminal activity,” he said.

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