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Opponents of future public safety training site say they are half way in the signature-collection process

Petitioners must have 70,000 signatures by a mid-August deadline to force a referendum vote on the future training center, which has become a flash-point.

ATLANTA — More than 30,000 signatures have been logged for a petition seeking to stop the construction of Atlanta’s future Public Safety Training Center, according to a coalition of several organizations that stand in opposition to the new facility.

The groups have been collecting signatures and told 11Alive Wednesday they are confident they will have the required 70,000 signatures by a mid-August deadline to force a referendum vote on the future training center, which has become a flash-point in Atlanta. 

Back in January, a protestor opposed to the construction of the facility in the Intrenchment Creek Park -- one of the last largest urban green spaces -- was shot and killed in an exchange of gunfire with Georgia State Patrol troopers. Law enforcement had been on the land to clear encampments that had cropped up to prevent work being done on the site.

Since then, a sharp line has materialized between supporters of the facility, who say it is desperately needed to replace the deplorable and crumbling infrastructure of existing police and fire training centers, and opponents, who oppose the site being built in their backyards and on the site of historic Native American land.

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

Atlanta resident Brieanna Carter is among those who canvassed a shopping center collecting signatures Wednesday, asking potential petitioners whether they've heard of what opponents to the site have dubbed "Cop City."

Carter is among the group hoping to meet the 70,000-signature requirement to put the construction of the proposed Atlanta Public Safety Training Center on a November ballot.

“I’m born and raised in Atlanta, and our voice don’t always get heard, and were really trying to get this to a vote because they’re not necessarily for the people,” Carter argued.

Wednesday, members of the New Georgia Project continued their signature collection processes, some even training new canvassers.

NGP organizer James Mayes said when all the signatures they’ve collected are added up, along with what was collected by other groups, they are on track to meet the August 19 deadline, something Mayes called "exciting."

“We’re just about half way there, and hearing those numbers (of signatures), man it’s exciting,” Mayes said.

Across town, representatives from Casa, a Hispanic-based organization, has also joined the coalition of groups collecting signatures. 

“We have a team that’s out in the field, at grocery stores, knocking on doors, even phone-banking to Atlantan voters to talk to them about the issue about the importance of signing this petition,” explained Alberto Feregrino, Casa Georgia's lead organizer.

Feregrino said while many Spanish-speakers have been left out of conversation about the training center, they, too, are worried about its impact. 

"We have a concern of that also escalating into more 287(g) programs that are surveilling, detaining, and deporting our community members,” Feregrino added.

The group says they will collect signatures until Aug. 14. the deadline to have the petitions turned in is Aug. 19.

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