5 arrested after chaining themselves to training center site equipment

Demonstration at proposed Atlanta police training site part of effort to stop work

Credit: John Spink

Credit: John Spink

Five individuals were arrested Thursday morning at the site of Atlanta’s proposed public safety training center after chaining themselves to construction equipment in an effort to halt work.

According to the Atlanta Police Department, the training center opponents broke into the construction site off Constitution Road around 9:30 a.m. Thursday.

“Those 5 people have been taken into custody and we are working with the Georgia Bureau of Investigation regarding charges on these individuals,” the department said in a statement.

David Dunn, of Roswell, Jeffrey Jones, of Smyrna, Lalita Martin, of Atlanta, Timothy Sullivan of Massachusetts, and Ayeola Whitworth, of Atlanta were all charged with trespassing and obstruction of law enforcement, according to police. Martin is also charged with reckless conduct.

About two dozen protesters also lined the site in unincorporated DeKalb County, east of Atlanta, in opposition to the 85-acre facility.

They chanted “Cop City will never be built” as law enforcement officers amassed. The crowd called the effort “the people’s injunction” to halt construction.

“We have tried to get justice in the courts, we have tried to get justice using our politicians, and unfortunately, they have betrayed and failed us,” said Mary Hooks, with the activist group Movement for Black Lives. “So when our government systems fail, that is when the people must stand up and take action.”

The demonstration comes just days after more than 60 anti-training center activists were indicted on racketeering and other charges over the ongoing clash between the city and facility opponents. The indictment mainly focuses on the Defend the Atlanta Forest group, with prosecutors describing it as an “anti-government, anti-police, and anti-corporate extremist organization.”

The indictment, handed up by a Fulton County grand jury, is being prosecuted by the Georgia Attorney General’s Office.

“Anytime somebody puts their bodies on the line for the cause,” said Hooks, “it was worth the risk.”

Rev. Jonathan Rogers, a minister with Abundant LUUv church in Atlanta, said Thursday that two of the arrested individuals were Unitarian Universalist clergy members.

“We are here to make sure that the people are the ones that decide what this money, what this land, what these resources are going towards,” Rogers said. “We don’t believe that this has been a free and democratic process.”