Activists marching in Atlanta on Monday to stop construction of a police and firefighter training center were met with tear gas and flash-bang grenades during a confrontation with police.
The event, dubbed “Block Cop City,” saw more than 500 protesters march from a park to the facility’s site, located just outside the Atlanta city limits in suburban DeKalb County.
Some of the protesters wearing masks, goggles and chemical suits pushed into a line of officers in riot gear stationed on a road outside the training center site. Officers pushed back and responded with tear gas, with one protester throwing a canister back at officers.
State troopers and the DeKalb County police department were guarding the site. Armored vehicles were on the scene and barbed wire was placed as a security measure around the site in anticipation of protests.
The clash marked the latest incident of violence sparked by the protests against the facility, which have gone on for more than two years.
Prosecutors are characterizing the protest movement as a conspiracy, saying it has led to underlying crimes, including possessing fire accelerants and throwing Molotov cocktails at police officers.
Opponents say the facility could lead to greater police militarization and that its construction in the South River Forest will worsen environmental damage in a poor, majority-Black area.
Meanwhile, Atlanta Mayor Andre Dickens and other supporters say the 85-acre, $90 million facility would replace inadequate training facilities and help the police department recruit and retain police officers.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
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