Protests turned into rioting in the city of Atlanta on Saturday evening, according to media reports. People reportedly began setting police cars on fire and throwing bricks at buildings.
Protestors took to the streets after Georgia-based environmental activist Manuel Esteban Paez Teran, 26, was shot and killed on Wednesday morning, according to the Georgia Bureau of Investigation (GBI).
Teran was allegedly shot by Georgia State troopers during a “planned clearing operation” at Intrenchment Creek Park on Wednesday, GBI Director Mike Register said in a news briefing. Teran had allegedly shot a state trooper, prompting other troopers to return fire in self-defense.
The site where the lethal shooting took place is where the Atlanta Public Safety Training Center is set to open later this year. The $90 million project aims to use the facility to train officers for urban policing using a mock city.
Those who oppose the project, a campaign called Stop Cop City, claim that it will destroy the urban forest and lead to increased policing, which they oppose. Teran had been camping on the site along with several other protestors when the police arrived to remove them.
Casey Sharp, a Stop Cop City supporter, told FOX 5 that Wednesday’s protestors wanted an independent investigation into Teran’s death.
Videos circulating on social media show police arresting multiple people dressed in all black during the rioting.
Atlanta Mayor Andre Dickens posted on Twitter that the Atlanta Police Department had made several arrests.
Atlanta Police have arrested 6 people so far, some of whom were carrying explosives. These individuals meant violence and used the cover of peaceful protest to conceal their motives. Our law enforcement teams were prepared and resolved the situation swiftly. pic.twitter.com/tUds0W4abJ
— Andre Dickens (@andreforatlanta) January 22, 2023
“Atlanta Police have arrested six people so far, some of whom were carrying explosives. These individuals meant violence and used the cover of peaceful protest to conceal their motives. Our law enforcement teams were prepared and resolved the situation swiftly,” the post read.
“Atlanta is safe and our police officers have resolved the disruptions downtown from earlier in the evening,” an additional statement posted to Dickens’ Twitter read.
Billy Heath III, a photojournalist and Fox5 Atlanta SKYFOX Drone Program co-coordinator, posted on Twitter what he saw.
“A number of businesses were vandalized and a City of Atlanta Police Department Vehicle was set ablaze,” the post read.
While law enforcement insists that Teran’s death was the result of not complying with officers and shooting a state trooper, environmental activist groups such as 350 US and Defend the Atlanta Forest continue to take to Twitter to denounce the police’s version of events.
The latter and Greenpeace USA have called Teran a forest defender.
Another protest in memory of Teran has been planned in Ann Arbor, MI, on Saturday, January 28, according to a tweet from Defend the Atlanta Forest.
A total of seven people were arrested and charged with domestic terrorism during the riots in Atlanta on Wednesday.