Activist killed and state trooper injured in firefight at protests over Atlanta ‘Copy City’ training centre

Previous clashes have occured at protests over planned $90m training centre

Josh Marcus
San Francisco
Wednesday 18 January 2023 21:33 GMT
Update on Georgia trooper shot near future police training facility | full press conference

A gun fight at an Atlanta protest site left a demonstrator dead and a state trooper injured on Wednesday, the Atlanta Journal Constitution reports.

Shooting reportedly broke out as officers tried to clear protesters from a demonstration opposing “Cop City,” a planned $90m police training centre slated to open later this year.

The protester who allegedly fired on officers died on the scene, 11 Alive reports, while the state police officer who was shot is in stable condition after surgery to treat a wound to the pelvis.

Authorities haven’t identified the officer or activist involved in the exchange.

Officials say the protester fired first.

"An individual, without warning, shot a Georgia State Patrol trooper," Georgia Bureau of Investigation director Michael Register said at a press conference on Monday.

"Other law enforcement personnel returned fire in self-defense and evacuated the trooper to a safe area. The individual who fired upon law enforcement and shot the trooper was killed in the exchange of gunfire."

Activists questioned that account.

The group Stop Cop City told Fox 5 Atlanta it was not clear if the Georgia state trooper was injured by "police fire, a protestor, or a police induced action.”

“Police killed a forest defender for loving this earth, for taking a stand against the ongoing destruction of the planet and its people,” the Atlanta Community Press Collective wrote in a statement. “Indiscriminate police murder, unfettered police violence is exactly why people have, for two years, called for the Cop City project to be cancelled immediately.”

The group Atlanta Solidarity Fund said on Wednesday on Twitter it is going to investigate the shooting and is considering a wrongful death lawsuit against Georgia police.

Occasional violent clashes have taken place between officers and demonstrators at Cop City protests since 2021.

In December, five demonstrators were arrested on domestic terrorism charges for occupying the forest, which activists have argued is an inaccurate way to describe the movement against the sprawling 85-acre police facility, which local officials will use for shooting practice and contain a mock village.

Groups of community members and activists have opposed the “Cop City” development, arguing it was approved without proper consultant, and that it damages the environment, is an unnecessary expenditure, and desecrates lands of historical importance to the Muscogee Creek people, who were displaced by white settlers in the 1880s.

Officials say they support people’s right to protest the development, but accused demonstrators of actions like arson, setting booby traps, and pelting first responders with stones and other objects.

“The Georgia Bureau of Investigation and all law enforcement agencies and our partners here embrace a citizen’s right to protest, but law enforcement can’t stand by while serious criminal acts are being committed,” director Register said on Monday.

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