IE 11 is not supported. For an optimal experience visit our site on another browser.

23 protesters charged with domestic terrorism after clash with Atlanta police over ‘Cop City’

The charges follow a confrontation Sunday between police and opponents of a planned police training facility outside of Atlanta.
Get more newsLiveon

Nearly two dozen people were charged with domestic terrorism after clashing with police Sunday at a police training center under development outside of Atlanta, the Atlanta Police Department said Monday.

Police said the conflict unfolded when "a group of violent agitators used the cover of a peaceful protest of the proposed Atlanta Public Safety Training Center to conduct a coordinated attack on construction equipment and police officers."

"They changed into black clothing, entered the construction area, and began to throw large rocks, bricks, Molotov cocktails, and fireworks at police officers," the Atlanta Police Department said of some of the protesters.

Police said the protesters of the planned 85-acre, $90 million training facility could have caused "bodily harm." They said officers "exercised restraint and used non-lethal enforcement to conduct arrests."

Organizers and supporters said the clashes took place amid a weekend concert, the South River Music Festival.

The Atlanta Solidarity Fund, which helps bail out people arrested at demonstrations and previously claimed that police appeared “to be lashing out at anyone present at the music festival,” tweeted Monday that the group is “committed to providing bail assistance and access to legal representation for everyone arrested protesting.”

“We are already coordinating a network of lawyers to respond,” the group tweeted.

The proposed Atlanta Public Safety Training Center — in DeKalb County, south of Atlanta — has been a target of protesters, who say they are concerned about its environmental impact given its planned location in a forest and its symbolism as one of the nation’s largest law enforcement training centers.

Opponents of the training facility have organized demonstrations against it under the slogan “Stop Cop City.”

The arrest and charges came after police earlier said they detained 35 people following the incident. It was unclear at the time whether those people were under arrest.

It was unclear Monday how many, if any, of the 23 people facing the charges were part of the 35 people detained Sunday, and how police determined whom to charge.

Protesters throw bricks at the site of police training center under construction in Atlanta on March 5, 2023.
In a video released by police, protesters throw fireworks Sunday at the site of a police training center under construction in Atlanta.Atlanta Police Dept. via AFP - Getty Images

Only two of those charged are from Georgia; the rest are from other states, including Massachusetts, New York, Maine, Arizona, Tennessee and Louisiana, among others. Another two are from outside the U.S.: one is from Canada, and another is from France.

Those charged appear to range in age from 18 to over 40, according to the information released by police.

The Georgia Bureau of Investigations, an independent statewide agency, handed down the charges, according to police.

It is unclear how much jail time they could face if convicted and whether they have secured or been appointed legal representation.

The Atlanta Police Department did not immediately respond to questions from NBC News on Monday afternoon.