Police employed tear gas and flash-bang grenades to disperse a march opposing the construction of a police and firefighter training center in Atlanta. Over 500 people participated in the march, covering approximately 2 miles from a park to the suburban DeKalb County site just beyond Atlanta city limits.

A segment of the march, some wearing masks, goggles, and chemical suits as protection against tear gas, confronted officers in riot gear near the training center site. Clashes ensued, leading to police responding with tear gas, and one protester throwing a canister back at officers.

Protests against the proposed training center, nicknamed “Cop City,” have persisted for more than two years. Georgia Attorney General Chris Carr indicted 61 protesters in August under the state’s anti-racketeering law, describing them as “militant anarchists.”

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The Monday march, called “Block Cop City,” aimed to halt construction, aligning with a broader protest movement that unites environmentalists and anti-police demonstrators. Activists argue that the facility, spanning 85 acres and costing $90 million, could escalate police militarization and exacerbate environmental damage in a predominantly Black, economically disadvantaged area.

Atlanta Mayor Andre Dickens contends that the training center would replace inadequate facilities, aiding police recruitment and retention. The clash on Monday marked the latest episode in a series of protests against the project, characterized by tensions, violence, and legal action. Authorities depict the movement as a conspiracy, citing crimes such as possessing fire accelerants and throwing Molotov cocktails.

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The indicted individuals face charges under the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations (RICO) Act, which carries a sentence of five to 20 years in prison, in addition to penalties for underlying offenses. The resistance to the training center underscores broader concerns about police militarization and environmental justice, blending environmental and social justice activism into a unified front against the project.