ATLANTA — Chaos erupted at the future site of the Atlanta public safety training center Sunday evening after nearly 150 protesters burned construction equipment and threw large rocks and Molotov cocktails at police, according to authorities.
Atlanta Police said that a group of "violent agitators" took advantage of peaceful protesters around 5:30 p.m. when they changed into all black clothing and made an attack against police officers and construction equipment. According to police, 35 people have now been detained so far.
APD said in addition to Molotov cocktails and rocks, the protesters threw bricks and fireworks at officers. In a release late Sunday night, Atlanta Police said officers "exercised restraint" and used non-lethal methods to make arrests.
Atlanta Police Chief Darin Schierbaum spoke to media late Sunday night. He said that over 30 people had been detained and arrests and charges were forthcoming. He also mentioned preliminary information shows many who will face charges were from out of state.
Heavy plumes of smoke could be seen coming from the public safety training center site as protesters clashed with police.
There was a heavy police presence along Key Road in southeast Atlanta. The entire road has been blocked off. SWAT also arrived to the scene as two SWAT vehicles were seen driving toward the future site.
An Atlanta Police Department helicopter was also seen flying above the scene.
Security video later posted on social media by Atlanta Police shows a large group of protesters moving onto the construction site and beginning to throw things at the officers. Fireworks can also bee seen going off near police.
Construction equipment also appears to be either flipped over or on fire in the video.
Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp said the people involved “chose destruction and vandalism over legitimate protest, yet again demonstrating the radical intent behind their actions.”
“As I've said before, domestic terrorism will NOT be tolerated in this state,” Kemp said in a statement Monday.
“We will not rest until those who use violence and intimidation for an extremist end are brought to full justice,” he said.
11Alive's Dawn White was at the scene and is reporting what sounds like gunshots can also be heard coming from the woods. However, Chief Schierbaum said those noises were likely fireworks being thrown at officers by the protesters.
Sean Keenan of The New York Times was inside the area on Sunday and captured the following image of the massive fires of construction equipment.
Atlanta Police said they have a "multi-layered" plan in place that includes "reaction and arrest" over the course of planned protests scheduled for roughly the next week.
They urged demonstrators to remain peaceful in the course of their protests.
On Jan. 21, protests over the future public safety training site turned violent in Downtown Atlanta as six people were arrested, a police car was set on fire and explosives were found during the protest.
This is a developing story. Check back often for new information.
Also download the 11Alive News app and sign up to receive alerts for the latest on this story and other breaking news in Atlanta and north Georgia.