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Activists building treehouses, living in tents to block APD training site construction

An activist group has been living in the woods since December to try to keep the Atlanta Police training facility in Dekalb County from being built.

DEKALB COUNTY, Ga. — Some activists are taking an unusual step to try to block a new police training facility from being built by camping out in the woods nearby and building treehouses.

They said their goal is to get enough people out there to make it impossible for the City of Atlanta to move forward with its plans.

The protesters said they've been on-site in the South River Forest in Dekalb County, living in the woods, since December. And in those three months, they said their numbers have grown. While 11Alive was out there, most were hiding, but one protester agreed to talk with our crew to get the message out.

"We were out here through the freezing winter when there were those huge storms," the protester, who calls himself "Coyote," said.

Coyote showed 11Alive the treehouses and tents they are living in to physically block Atlanta from building their new training facility.

"People have built barricades, so there are barricades on certain paths to keep bulldozers from coming in," he added. 

Coyote said the group feels the facility is bad for the ecology, and they want the land to go back to the Muscogee tribe instead. In general, they don't support any police training facility, anywhere.

The new state-of-the-art training center would cover 85 acres in the South River Forest, and replaces an old training building that had roofing, plumbing, and mold issues. 

The Atlanta Police Foundation is leasing the land from the City of Atlanta to build the facility later this year.

The Foundation tells 11Alive, it's aware of the trespassers, who have allegedly chased their workers off the site and destroyed construction equipment.

Coyote claims his group is non-violent, he said they just want green sector jobs in place, and not police.

"Restoring the soil, repairing plant species bringing animals back that's one thing anyone can do," Coyote said. 

11Alive asked Coyote who pays for that? He responded, "I don't know, these are sort of dreams."

Atlanta Police said they are working with DeKalb County to address the trespassers.

The City of Atlanta said the project is creating a modern training facility while also preserving a huge amount of land as green space.  

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