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1 arrested in task force operation at Intrenchment Creek Park

The park is roughly adjacent to where a planned police and fire training center is to be built and where a long-running protest movement has operated.

DEKALB COUNTY, Ga. — The area around the future home of the Atlanta Public Safety Training Center is officially closed to the public.  

On Monday, DeKalb Police lead a task force into Intrenchment Creek Park as part of a securing operation after DeKalb CEO Michael Thurmond closed the park Friday due to what was characterized as the finding of "unknown and potentially dangerous contraptions" on site.

In an update before noon, the department said one person had been arrested during the operation and two others left the site voluntarily when asked.

The park is roughly adjacent to where a planned police and fire training center is to be built and where a long-running protest movement - which calls the site "Cop City" - has operated.

In a tweet at 10:55 a.m., DKPD said the operation was underway. At 11:25 a.m., the department tweeted it had "come across several dangerous items (Molotov cocktails, nailed boards, etc.)

Rumors that clearcutting of trees would begin this week began circulating in the protest movement, meanwhile, and the "Defend the Atlanta Forest" account meanwhile put out a call for protesters to be at the ready.

DeKalb Police Chief Mirtha Ramos said during a press conference that procedure during the operation was to find people, instruct them about the executive order closing the park, and then give them the option of gathering their belongings and leaving or being arrested.

They are also putting up signage and barriers "to keep people out," Ramos said.

However, DeKalb County Commissioner Ted Terry worries the executive order, and the closure of Intrenchment Creek Park and the surrounding area goes too far.

“The park behind us right here is another land swap that’s related to the training sight. However, the judge in that case said the park should remain open to the public so the concern is we’re pushing the free speech zone so far away that in essence they become pushed to the side,” Terry said on Monday. 

He adds he’s also worried biologists and other environmental scientists will need to get water samples from the area, won’t be allowed to do so.  

Meanwhile, Ramos said those found on the property will be given two choices; “Take all your possessions and exit the park or you will be arrested those are the options”.

In a release, DeKalb Police said the task force would:

  • "Determine whether any unauthorized person or persons are present in restricted areas, and if so, direct them to leave immediately;"
  • "Determine whether there are any unauthorized vehicles in the park and if so, remove all unauthorized vehicles from the restricted areas;"
  • "Securing entrances and exits from the property with cement barricades;"
  • "Posting official signs on the properties prohibiting public access to and parking on the properties;"
  • "Begin inspecting the park and adjacent county-owned properties for hidden traps or other devices designed to injure, maim, or cause the death of adults, children and pets on the property."

The department said that once the county's parks and rec department and DeKalb Police "determine that the park is safe for the public to visit," the order closing it "will be rescinded." In the meantime, with the park closed, Thurmond said those unaware of the closure will be informed and asked to leave and anyone found trespassing, parking an unauthorized vehicle, moving, removing or defacing signs will be prosecuted.

RELATED: What is 'Cop City'? Explaining the controversy around a future police training center in Atlanta

On Friday, pictures of some of traps were displayed during a press conference. The "contraptions" appeared to be boards of wood with nails sticking out of them.

DeKalb Police described them in a release as "hidden traps or other devices designed to injure, maim, or cause the death of adults, children, and pets.”

Parts of the land that is restricted will serve as the site of the Atlanta Public Safety Training Center, also known by its critics as "Cop City." Several activists have been recently charged with domestic terrorism after property was damaged at the development site. 

Other agencies participating in the operation Monday included Georgia State Patrol, GBI, DeKalb County District Attorney's Office, DeKalb County Sheriff's Office, Atlanta Police Department, Fulton County Sheriff's Office, Dunwoody Police Department, Sandy Springs Police Department, Georgia Department of Natural Resources, DeKalb County Department of Parks/Recreation/Cultural Affairs, DeKalb County Sanitation Department, DeKalb County Facilities Management Department.

More on the case

The Atlanta Public Safety Training Center is an 85-acre, $90 million facility that the Atlanta City Council approved in 2021. 

It would be built on city-owned land in accordance with a lease agreement between the city and the Atlanta Police Foundation, a private nonprofit that supports the Atlanta Police Department.

It is to be built on a portion of the South River Forest area - protesters refer to it as the Weelaunee Forest, for the Native American name it was once known by - on top of the Old Atlanta Prison Farm complex. 

It lies within south DeKalb County, roughly bounded by Intrenchment Creek to the east, Key Road to the north and Constitution Road to the south.

The law enforcement community has argued the training facility would be a crucial component in stabilizing the police force, aiding in recruitment and retention after low morale and departures following the racial and criminal justice protests of 2020. 

Protesters have opposed the facility on environmental and historical grounds, saying it would decimate one of the largest preserved forest areas in the city and desecrate historically Native American land of the Muscogee Creek people, who once lived in the woods and called it the Weelaunee Forest before being displaced by white settlers in the early 19th century. 

An activist was recently killed by police at the site earlier this year. Police said the activist, Manuel Paez Teran, shot back at officers, but a new independent autopsy said the activist had their hands up at the time of the shooting. 

The shooting happened while officers were clearing out the site to continue the construction of building the training center. 


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