‘Cop City’ protesters damage property in Atlanta, police say

Protesters damaged property at several locations on Peachtree Street in downtown Atlanta Saturday in the wake of a shooting earlier this week near the Atlanta Public Safety Training Center — a controversial future law enforcement training site — in which a Georgia state trooper was wounded and a man was killed.

Masked activists dressed in all black threw rocks and set off fireworks in front of a skyscraper that houses the Atlanta Police Foundation, breaking large glass windows, according to the Associated Press. They then set a police car on fire and vandalized other buildings with anti-police graffiti as stunned tourists scattered, the AP reported.

“Several arrests have been made at this time and order has been restored downtown,” Atlanta police said on social media.

Over the past few months, tensions between protesters and law enforcement over the future training site have risen, until it boiled over last Wednesday.

Michael Register of the Georgia Bureau of Investigation briefs reporters after a shooting in Atlanta. 18 January 2023.

Georgia Department of Public Safety

A Georgia state trooper was shot and wounded Wednesday morning, and a man identified by police as 26-year-old Manuel Esteban Paez Teran was fatally shot during a planned multi-agency operation to remove protesters from the property, according to the Georgia Bureau of Investigation (GBI).

The trooper was rushed to Grady Memorial Hospital in Atlanta and immediately taken into surgery, officials said. He was in stable condition Thursday, the Georgia State Patrol said. The trooper’s identity has not yet been released.

On Friday, GBI released a picture of a handgun Teran was said to be carrying at the time of the shooting. It said a ballistics analysis of the round that wounded the trooper was a match to Teran’s Smith & Wesson M&P Shield 9mm.

Activists have questioned officials’ version of events, calling it a “murder” and demanding an independent investigation, according to the Associated Press. According to the GBI, the incident was not recorded on body cameras.

In December, five people were arrested and charged with domestic terrorism and other charges after allegedly throwing rocks and bottles at the gym, officials said. For months, protesters have allegedly destroyed property, committed arson and carjacking, and thrown rocks, bottles and other objects at police, the GBI said.

“These are not acts of peaceful protest. These are criminal acts to destabilize communities and put citizens at risk,” Michael Register, director of the GBI, said this week. The agency is investigating the recent trooper shooting.

For months, police have sent officers to the scene because of the high “threat to security,” Register said.

In connection with Wednesday’s protest, seven people have been arrested so far on charges of domestic terrorism and criminal trespass, the GBI said. According to the AP, they range in age from 20 to 34, and none are residents of Georgia.

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