Georgia Following violent protests in Atlanta against the development of a police training complex and the killing by authorities of an environmental protester who is alleged to have shot a state trooper, Governor Brian Kemp issued a state of emergency on Thursday.
Unless the governor extends it, the state of emergency, which permits the use of up to 1,000 National Guard troops to respond to episodes of social unrest, will remain until February 9.
The Atlantic Public Safety Center, sometimes known as “Cop City,” is being built in Dekalb County’s South River Forest, and protesters are against it. When a protester has fatally shot during a SWAT raid on the “Defend the Atlanta Forest” group camp, the campaign received widespread notice last week.
Authorities claim that 26-year-old Manuel “Tortuguita” Teran opened fire first. However, activists who were present during the raid dispute their account of what happened. The officers involved in the incident were not wearing body cameras at the time of the shooting, according to the Georgia Bureau of Investigations.
Following Teran’s death, protestors from Akron, Ohio, to Kurdistan organized vigils to condemn police brutality. On Saturday, demonstrators in Atlanta made their protests violent by torching a police cruiser and throwing rocks at the skyscraper that houses the Atlanta Police Foundation.
Kemp criticized the demonstrators as “out-of-state rioters” who “tried to bring violence to the streets of our capital city” in his State of the State address on Wednesday. It was ” just the latest example of why here in Georgia, we’ll always back the blue,” he claimed.
During the Black Lives Matter demonstrations in 2020, Kemp activated the National Guard to provide security at the state Capitol, the governor’s home, and other public locations. He continued to do so well into 2021.
Since the summer of 2021, protesters from Defend the Atlanta Forest have held protracted tree sits, marches, and other acts of defiance in opposition to the clearing of more than 380 acres of forest land to create a mock city and a training facility for police.
Recent confrontations between protestors and police have become more violent, with protesters hurling Molotov cocktails at the latter while police clear up protest camps with tear gas and rubber bullets. Twelve demonstrators have been charged with domestic terrorism since December under state legislation that carries a maximum 35-year jail sentence.
According to activists, the development of the training facility would increase police brutality against the county’s primarily Black and Brown neighborhoods and sustain environmental racism owing to chemical runoff from weapons testing.