ATLANTA — A battle over unused land continues to cause a rift between Atlanta's police department and activists. On Tuesday, both showed how neither plans to back down.
The argument stems from a plot of land in DeKalb County that used to be a prison farm site. Community members want to keep Atlanta's South River Forest as a green, mixed-use space. However, the land has already been earmarked as a public safety training facility and has received its stamp of approval from the Atlanta City Council.
On Tuesday, protesters were back in the area calling on leaders to abandon the idea that they've dubbed "Cop City."
Critics of the idea say police training in the area would actually be a threat to the community. One community leader said the space will only benefit law enforcement -- and not the city as a whole.
"It’s clearly not for us, it’s not for our community and it’s going to be adverse to us and our people," Kwame Olufemi of Community Movement Builders said.
Over the past month, there has been increased tension between protestors who have decided to settle in the forest, leading to nearly a dozen people being arrested. Atlanta Police Department officials say some protesters have even thrown rocks and what was believed to be a Molotov cocktail at officers.
Protesters said their fight isn't just about the social justice impact the facility could have on the city but also about the negative environmental consequences too.
"If you know anything about ATL at (all) then you know the places that flood the most are on the south side," Olufemi said. "In destroying the forest they’re going to exasperate those issues they’ve already had with peoples town flooding."
Protesters said their goal is to continue to build a movement of resistance to the facility being built, but next, they are hoping to speak directly with companies involved with the building.
"At the same time while we’re protesting the police, the same time we’re trying to stop Cop City from being built," Olufemi said. "We’re at the same time simultaneously building up our own institutions to provide safety for our communities."
APD said it is considered trespassing for protestors and those living on the property to remain there.