ATLANTA — 11Alive has learned new details about a violent night at the site of Atlanta's future public safety training facility. It started as a protest gathering and music festival at Gresham Park, and then turned chaotic as almost 150 people descended on the center.
Twenty-three people from 15 different states and two other countries are now charged with domestic terrorism. Only two of them are from Georgia. We're also getting an estimate on the amount of property damage.
On Monday, Atlanta Police Chief Darin Schierbaum presented new information about the incident to the city council.
“What has just transpired is they were changing out of the clothes they were wearing at the concert and are now redressing themselves in all black," Schierbaum said, describing the protesters during his presentation to the council.
He added those suspects changed back into their original clothing in the woods.
“You’ll start to see smoke occurring as fires are set, Molotov cocktails are thrown, and fireworks are discharged. You’ll see a firework that was just lobbed at the lieutenant that is discharging," Schierbaum continued, describing surveillance video of the incident.
The chief revealed officers towed 35 vehicles for crime scene processing, and the property damage is estimated at $150,000.
Dozens of people opposed to the site they call 'Cop City' spoke out at the same Atlanta City Council meeting. Though those speakers were not among those arrested Sunday night.
“I live in East Atlanta. I don’t want Cop City. I’ve got five Black children. I don’t want Cop City," Rev. Kyonna Jones said.
Meanwhile another speaker, Satya Vati, remarked "What we have here are politicians who ignore the interests of the people and preserve the rights of the ultra-rich, the capitalists, and the corporations."
The Southern Poverty Law Center, a group that works for Civil Rights, confirms one of its employees was arrested following the violence Sunday. A spokesperson sent the following statement to 11Alive:
“An employee at the SPLC was arrested while acting — and identifying — as a legal observer on behalf of the National Lawyers Guild (NLG). The employee is an experienced legal observer, and their arrest is not evidence of any crime, but of heavy-handed law enforcement intervention against protesters.”
Chief Schierbaum stated at the meeting he believes in people's First Amendment rights but emphasized they don't have the right to attack law enforcement officers.