Stop Cop City


On March 5, 2023, over a dozen arrests were made after a group of protesters in the downtown Atlanta conducted an assault on construction equipment. This action consisted of molotov cocktails, fireworks, bricks, and large rocks. The ongoing rebellion is due to controversy surrounding the Atlanta Police Foundation building, the largest police training facility in the United States. 

The building’s construction is expected to cost 90 million dollars and take up over 85 acres in the Weelaunee Forest. According to the center’s website, the plans include a mock city, shooting range, vehicle operator course, K-9 unit kennel, and more. The training facility’s first phase is scheduled to open in late 2023. With potential to have a negative impact on the forest and communities in Atlanta, there has been controversy on whether it should continue to be built. 

“I think that they should think of a building center somewhere else rather than destroying nature for their purposes” Ilona Vivanco, sophomore, said.    

The aggressive push to build the facility in Atlanta’s forest and neighboring DeKalb County has progressed into riots and a yearlong protest called “Stop Cop City.” Citizens camped out at the site for months trying to prevent the construction, leading to some violent clashes with police. The protest originally began due to the environmental impact (deforestation) and increase of policing in the area. 

“Citizens have the right to protest the construction because the Atlanta Police Department does not need this center to do their job,” Rin Restrepo, junior, said.    

In late January, the Atlanta law enforcement agency carried out a “clearing operation” to move remaining protesters. This resulted in the fatal shooting of Manuel Esteban Paez Terán, a 26-year-old activist. Authorities claim that Terán had fired his weapon at a state trooper. This killing led to more protests in Downtown Atlanta that have become destructive. According to the Atlanta Police Department [APD], some protestors within the crowd broke windows and attacked police vehicles. Andre Dickens, Atlanta’s Mayor, and Michael Thurmond, DeKalb County CEO, announced the agreement, allowing construction to begin. 

“The APD should expand on the current facilities they have because Cop City has created more violence rather than stopping it,” Sydney Tanner, senior, said. 

 Residents in the surrounding area have held many protests against the project since the announcement, with not much success stopping the destruction.