Activists plan to gather in Little Five Points on Oct. 14 to protest the city of Atlanta’s public safety training center to be built on dozens of acres of city-owned forested land near the South River in DeKalb County.
The family-friendly rally organized by the “Stop Cop City” movement begins at 4:30 p.m. at Findley Plaza. It is one of many “Weekend of Action” events planned with another group known as “Defend the Atlanta Forest.”
The grassroots groups have organized numerous mostly peaceful protests for more than a year against the public training center facility, which they call “Cop City,” after the City Council approved its construction despite heavy opposition. The protesters call the hundreds of acre near the South River the Weelaunee Forest, what they say the area was called when it was home to the Native American Muscogee Nation. The land is also home to the Old Atlanta Prison Farm.
Some protesters have used vandalism to try to stop the construction of the public training facility. In May, Atlanta Police arrested several protesters they said were trespassing on the site.
In July, Defend the Atlanta Forest activists chained themselves to the Charlotte, N.C., office of Brasfield & Gorrie, the general contractor selected to build the training center. The Atlanta Police Department has said the Georgia Bureau of Investigation and the FBI are assisting in investigating illegal activities.
Plans are to build the public training facility on 85 acres of city-owned land standing within more than 300 acres of mostly forested land off Key Road in DeKalb County. C Construction funding for facility is being raised by the nonprofit Atlanta Police Foundation, which will lease the land from the city.
The Atlanta Police Foundation says the new facility is needed, in part, to improve morale and recruitment of police and other first responders. A push to build the facility came from police and corporations following the George Floyd protests in 2020. The foundation has also pledged to transform the remaining 260 acres of the site into a public greenspace and urban forest.
The “Weekend of Action” for this weekend includes calling Brasfield & Gorrie to ask them to drop its contract to build the public training facility, a book fair at Auburn Avenue Research Library, guided walks in the forest where the facility is to be built, and a teach-in and rally at the Atlanta Police Foundation’s headquarters.
The city had previously earmarked the property for use as greenspace, but officials maintained it was the only suitable property for the training facility.
While 85-acres will be dedicated to the training facility, city officials said the remaining 260 acres would be devoted to a public park and greenspace that ultimately might connect to the Atlanta BeltLine.
The training facility itself will have a mock-up of a town, a firefighting “drill tower,” emergency vehicle operations course (EVOC), classroom space, a firing range, space for ordinance disposal, and space for a helicopter to land in case of an emergency.