A Georgia State Patrol trooper was shot today as police moved in to an area where protesters previously identified as domestic terrorists have been camping to prevent the construction of a new police training center. The individual who initiated the attack was shot and killed by police. (The image above is from a recent profile of this group but the identity of the shooter is still unknown).
Law enforcement officers helping conduct a “clearing operation” at the site of Atlanta’s planned public safety training center exchanged gunfire with a protester Wednesday morning, leaving the protester dead and a state trooper wounded, according to the Georgia Bureau of Investigation.
The identity of the protester, a male accused of initiating fire with troopers “without warning,” was not released pending notification of kin.
The wounded trooper, who was shot in the abdomen area, also was not identified. He underwent surgery and was in stable condition in the intensive care unit at a local hospital, Georgia State Patrol Col. Chris Wright said during a Wednesday afternoon press conference.
This is just the latest in an ongoing battle with police that has been going on for more than a year at this same site. The construction of the new police compound is set to begin soon but protesters, who call themselves “forest defenders,” have been building huts and tree houses and living in the area.
Last May seven members of the group were arrested after throwing rocks and one Molotov cocktail at police. Many of them were discovered to have come from out of state. Their travel was funded by GoFundMe accounts set up for this purpose.
Last month, a task forced moved into the area to remove barricades set up along the roads. The police were attacked once again with rocks and wound up arresting five people who were subsequently charged with domestic terrorism. Those arrested were all 20-somethings and only one of them lived in Georgia (but no in Atlanta). The others lived in California, Maine, Nebraska and Wisconsin.
At the time I thought that would probably be the end of this particular occupation. Once people had been charged with domestic terrorism you’d think they would slink away quietly. But the Atlanta Journal Constitution points out the arrests last month have actually sparked more vandalism by anonymous anarchists in other parts of the country. For instance:
Five windows and an ATM were smashed at the Wells Fargo at 24th Ave and Irving St in retribution for the arrest of five Atlanta forest defenders on bullshit “domestic terrorism” charges.
Mitch Graul, a Lead Business Execution Consultant at Wells Fargo, sits on the Board of Trustees of the Atlanta Police Foundation. Atlanta Police Foundation supports the construction of a massive police training facility in Atlanta’s Weelaunee Forest on the land of the Muscogee Creek peoples. The site was a plantation and then a prison farm. The bones in the land demand a reckoning. Anyone who supports Cop City is a target everywhere. Solidarity means attack!
Under the light of the full moon on Thursday Jan. 5, 2023, we anarchists in so-called South Florida (colonized Tequesta, Seminole, and Miccosukee land – struck the contractors Brasfield and Gorrie at their office inside Hotel Colonnade and at their construction site next to the Nicklaus Children’s Hospital. We attacked them with revenge in our hearts for the Forest Defenders in Atlanta arrested and caged as “domestic terrorists.” In these past weeks, this upcoming weekend of action, and going forward, we will demonstrate that we truly have the numbers. From Portland to Miami to Atlanta, the forest defenders are everywhere!
We permanently closed down a construction site. While we love to see that the addition to the children’s hospital is all but completed, B&G shall not profit from this contract. We sabotaged their vehicles, we painted their trailer, we defaced their logo with the anarchist A, and we locked the gate behind us with a bike lock.
Today that same site is calling for “reciprocal violence” because a “forest defender” was killed.
The worst has come to pass.
An unnamed forest defender has been shot and killed in Weelaunee.
Consider this a call for reciprocal violence to be done to the police and their allies. On Friday, January 20th, wherever you are, you are invited to participate in a night of rage in order to honor the memory of our fallen comrade.
Love and rage
Defend the Atlanta Forest
As you can see, they are planning a “night of rage” this Friday. This group is already claiming the person was “murdered” by police and is now a “martyr.” They are claiming on Twitter that the officer who was shot was hit with friendly fire.
We have reason to believe the officer shot today was hit by "friendly fire" and not by the protester who was killed.
Do not believe the police and their media. Demand an end to police militarization and hands off the forest.
— Defend the Atlanta Forest (@defendATLforest) January 18, 2023
Someone connected to the group put out a press release. This statement isn’t as clear about what happened. They seem to be admitting they don’t know.
Dozens of heavily armed DeKalb Police, Atlanta Police and Georgia State police shut down Weelaunee People’s Park and nearby streets before entering the tree line with guns drawn and heavy machinery poised to continue forest destruction.
Police have repeatedly raided this public park, flattened community gardens and art installations, attacked protestors with chemical weapons and rubber bullets, and threatened lethal force. During past raids, police have consistently escalated violent tactics on peaceful people who were sitting in trees or walking through the public park. Since June 6, 2022, activists and community members fighting to Defend the Atlanta Forest and Stop Cop City have been demanding that officers stop bringing weapons into the forest after APD pointed their weapons at peaceful protestors.
The police and local news are working together to control the flow of information, leaving us with vague news reports that suggest the officer fired at the civilian in self-defense. We know they will say and do anything to prevent an Atlanta officer from being viewed as another Derek Chauvin, including witholding, distorting, or deleting evidence. Supporters of the movement are calling on legal observers and journalists to document the violent police tactics being used against protestors.
Since the fatal shooting, this morning’s operation has continued with Brasfield and Gorrie’s heavy machinery entering the forest and cops shooting pepper balls at people who remain in the park–as if nothing has happened. The loss of our lives remains meaningless to the police. Police killed a forest defender for loving this earth, for taking a stand against the ongoing destruction of the planet and its people. Indiscriminate police murder, unfettered police violence is exactly why people have, for two years, called for the Cop City project to be cancelled immediately. As politicians invest in cops, militarization and police budgets are only increasing. Meanwhile, police murders peaked in 2022: U.S. cops killed 100 people every month.
What is taking place is a classic example of tyrannical government overreach. The public has a right to defend its interests. We are advocates of a free and peaceful society built on cooperation and mutual understanding. The government is escalating this situation pointlessly.
Allow peace to return to our community.
Cancel the Cop City project. Return Intrenchment Creek Park to the public.
Drop the charges against protesters.
Anyway, they are literally inciting violence against police which seems like it crosses a line as far as Twitter terms of service.
A CALL FOR RETALIATION
Consider this a call for reciprocal violence to be done to the police and their allies. On Friday, January 20th, wherever you are, you are invited to participate in a night of rage in order to honor the memory of our fallen comrade.https://t.co/C6gfU6gfXB pic.twitter.com/WcfKGQ0Ptf
— Scenes from the Atlanta Forest (@scenesatl) January 18, 2023
The head of the Georgie Bureau of Investigations was asked about these threats and said they validated his claims that the people police were dealing with in the forest were not protesters but domestic terrorists. He also said that two individuals police encountered this morning agreed to leave and were allowed to do so.
Unicorn Riot, a site sympathetic to the protesters, is reporting that three other people at the site have been arrested and charged with domestic terrorism.
The identity of the protester is currently unknown. A Georgia State Trooper was reportedly also shot during the raid and is currently undergoing surgery at Grady Memorial Hospital, according to police. At least three other protesters were reportedly arrested during the raid and were charged with “aggravated assault on a public safety officer” and “domestic terrorism.”
Here’s a local news report on the situation. No doubt there will be a lot more about this in the coming days.