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Funding approved for Atlanta's public safety training center after 16-hour city council meeting

The council meeting began its public comment period Monday with hundreds packing City Hall.

ATLANTA — After a staggering number of people signed up to voice their opinions about the proposed Atlanta public safety training facility, the Atlanta City Council has finally voted on an ordinance regarding funding.

The session went on all night since 1 p.m. Monday, eventually passing in an 11-4 vote Tuesday around 5:30 a.m. In total, $30 million in funds was approved for construction of the facility, as well as a "lease-back" agreement that will see Atlanta make $1.2 million yearly payments for 30 years toward paying off the project.

At the moment funding passed, protesters in the audience could be heard chanting "Cop City will never be built."

The council meeting began its public comment period Monday with people packing City Hall, With more than 1,000 people signed up to speak, which went late into the night. The proposed center has been met with a long-running protest movement calling it "Cop City."

City documents show crews have already removed more than 100,000 tires dumped on the land and tried to preserve all hardwood trees there. 

There will also be efforts to tamp down potential noise for those living in the area. No explosives or helicopter activities will be permitted on site. Crews will also only develop on 85 acres and "will never encroach on the 265 acres dedicated to preserved and publicly accessible greenspace," the city documents mention.

Opposition against the training center has become a mushrooming cause for left-leaning activists in Atlanta, nationally and even around the world. 

“I don’t think we need more police, and the police we have, they need to be more compassionate about human rights and trying to see each other in the eye and look for love and not for war," one protester who went by Luciana said Monday. “We want our parks, and we want a safe place for everyone to come together and no more guns. We don’t need that.”

The Council vote represents one of the last official hurdles for the project, which has cleared regulatory hurdles in DeKalb County - where it is to be built on land in the South River Forest - as well as some legal challenges.

“There’s a lot of passion in the audience," Atlanta City Councilman Michael Julian Bond said Monday night.

Bond believes despite that passion, approving the facility is the right thing to do. 

“There are over 3,000 911 calls a day in Atlanta, so there’s a demonstrated need for this service," Bond said. "We just have to find a way to address it, work for a better relationship, and rebuilt trust with the community.”

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