A protest in downtown Atlanta over a police shooting turned into a riot on Saturday night, as hooligans attacked the office tower home to the Atlanta Police Foundation, damaged other structures, and torched a police vehicle. Atlanta Mayor Andre Dickens told reporters police arrested six people — and some of the ones arrested had explosives.
The mayhem along famed Peachtree Street — in the heart of Atlanta’s hotel district and right next to the Ritz-Carlton — sent tourists scattering for safety.
Antifa insurrection in Atlanta tonight over a new police training facility pic.twitter.com/pfO8PRun1F
— End Wokeness (@EndWokeness) January 22, 2023
Masked rioters wearing the all-black uniform favored by Antifa used rocks, hammers, fireworks, and spray paint to lash out at 191 Peachtree, a 50-story office tower that Deloitte and many other tenants also use. Other buildings were damaged as the group smashed tall glass windows and revolving doors and painted anti-police slogans on the upscale buildings.
Police car on fire. Antifa vermin smash police cars and store windows in Atlanta Georgia tonight.
— HumanDilemma (@HumanDilemma_) January 21, 2023
Six were arrested, and police say they confiscated “explosive” devices, though it’s not clear if that’s a melodramatic description of fireworks. Atlanta Mayor Andre Dickens confirmed explosives were used in the attacks. He also said that “many of [those arrested] don’t even live in Atlanta or in the State of Georgia, and they don’t represent the voices of Atlanta.”
Atlanta Mayor Andre Dickens confirms Antifa used explosives during tonight’s attacks:
“You heard that correctly, explosives.” pic.twitter.com/l8ni83lMOI
— Citizen Free Press (@CitizenFreePres) January 22, 2023
Atlanta Police Chief Darin Schierbaum said the rioters had bigger ambitions that cops thwarted:
“We can tell now, early in this investigation, this was not the focus tonight just to damage the windows of three buildings and set a police car on fire. The intent was to continue to do harm, and that did not happen.”
ANTIFA losers screaming and crying as they get mopped up by the police for rioting and vandalizing in Downtown Atlanta
They larp by saying “I CAN’T BREATHE”
— Drew Hernandez (@DrewHLive) January 22, 2023
The violence capped a protest march along the street, as demonstrators railed against Wednesday’s fatal police shooting of a protestor who was among others trying to prevent the construction of an 85-acre, $90 million police and fire training facility on the city’s southeast side, which protestors have dubbed “Cop City.”
BREAKING – CHAOS in Atlanta as rioters aim fireworks at police building devolving into fiery chaos. WATCH. pic.twitter.com/W2SD8VGFCg
— Simon Ateba (@simonateba) January 22, 2023
Police say that the protestor refused to exit a tent on the wooded property where the facility is to be built, and then shot a Georgia State Patrol trooper with a 9mm Smith & Wesson M&P Shield, prompting other troopers to open fire. The trooper was hit in the abdomen but lived. Activists challenge the police account and characterize the killing as “murder.”
The slain protestor was 26-year-old Manuel Esteban Paez Teran, who was known among the “Stop Cop City” movement by the name “Tortuguita.” Associated Press helpfully tells us Teran was a “nonbinary person and used they/it pronouns.” He was among many others in approximately 25 campsites.
In clearing the occupiers, police say they seized mortar-style fireworks, multiple-edged weapons, pellet rifles, gas masks, and a blow torch. Seven people were arrested and charged with domestic terrorism and criminal trespass. Notably, not a single one of them is a Georgia resident.
In the wake of Teran’s death, a Twitter account called “Scenes from the Atlanta Forest” called for a “night of rage” on Friday, with “reciprocal violence to be done to the police and their allies.” The account is now suspended. Ahead of the protest, organizers distributed flyers that said, “Police killed a protester. Stand up. Fight back.”
Opponents say the future Atlanta Public Safety Training Center, which will include a gun range, a mock cityscape and a “burn building,” will harm black people and the environment. As Jasmine Burnett, organizing director of Community Movement Builder puts it:
“They’re literally going to build a mock version of Atlanta to practice different urban warfare tactics. The purpose of this project is to be able to better surveil, better suppress and better prevent liberation movements that directly address the exploitation [of] black and working-class communities.”
For months, opponents have camped out in tents and on platforms in trees, and built sloppy barricades on the property. Over that time, they’ve stolen and damaged a construction vehicle and thrown a Molotov cocktail at police. Wednesday’s police raid was meant to put a decidedly tardy end to all that.