On January 18, 2023, law enforcement officers, including SWAT team members from the Georgia Department of Public Safety and Atlanta Police Department, entered a forest in Atlanta to clear out protesters who had been camping there for nearly two years. The protesters were against the city’s plan to build a new police and fire training facility on the site, and had rallied under the hashtag #StopCopCity.

The officers received a packet of information that claimed the activists were part of a domestic terror group called Defend the Atlanta Forest, and they may have been armed with handguns, rifles, and incendiary devices. The officers were warned to watch out for traps and were cautioned that the protesters may have posted lookouts in treehouses.

During the operation, the officers cut down unoccupied tents and found multiple occupied tents, with occupants being compliant and turned over to law enforcement without incident. However, a 26-year-old protester, Manuel Paez Terán, was shot and killed by SWAT officers during the operation. The circumstances surrounding the shooting are disputed, and no footage exists to provide clarity.

Following the shooting, the Georgia Bureau of Investigation released a photo of a handgun found in Paez Terán’s “possession” and claimed that forensic ballistic analysis matched the gun to the projectile recovered from the trooper’s wound. However, bodycam footage from Atlanta Police Department officers raised questions about the shooting, with some officers speculating about friendly fire.

In September 2023, the Georgia Attorney General announced that 61 protesters were indicted under the state’s Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations (RICO) Act, which was criticized as an attempt to silence the protesters. The activists argue that the state is attempting to shut them up under the guise of criminal charges.

The contested forest area is a proposed site for a new police and fire training facility, known as Cop City, which has caused intense opposition from the protesters. The facility has been described as a “police militarization facility for police to train in urban warfare.” Despite opposition, the city council approved the funding and construction of the facility.

By admin