Law enforcement was out en masse Monday morning at the site of Atlanta’s proposed public safety training center, clearing the woods in anticipation of construction on the controversial facility beginning in earnest.

SWAT teams from the Atlanta and DeKalb County police departments, as well as Georgia State Patrol troopers and representatives from other agencies, were seen at the site in southwest DeKalb County. Construction contractors were also there with equipment.

Amid the beeping of trucks backing up and the clanging of heavy equipment off Key Road, construction workers busily prepared the site with a backhoe and a bulldozer. Police officers in olive green uniforms patrolled the area atop all-terrain vehicles.

There were no protesters in sight, and no arrests were made. But Margaret Mason Tate, who lives nearby in East Atlanta, complained to reporters about the frequent police presence, adding the noise makes it difficult for her to homeschool her young son. A helicopter hovered above the construction site as she spoke.

“I don’t know a neighbor of mine who is excited about this project. And I know I am not,” she said. “I want to invest my tax dollars into the city of Atlanta and not cop city. There is absolutely no way I can adequately express how distressing it is to feel like I live in a war zone because it sounds like this all the time. And it is going to keep sounding like that.”

The operation was taking place several days after officials announced that initial land disturbance permits had been approved for the $90-million facility — and about three weeks after a similar clearing operation resulted in the death of 26-year-old Manuel “Tortuguita” Teran.

During that fatal Jan. 18 incident, Teran is accused of firing at troopers “without warning,” wounding one. Teran died after several other troopers returned fire, the Georgia Bureau of Investigation has said.

Family members and attorneys for Teran held a Monday morning press conference in Decatur, at which they demanded more transparency in the investigation of the shooting.

An independent autopsy found that Teran was shot 13 times. The family is asking for more transparency about the shooting.

A bulldozer works under the watch of law enforcement at the site of Atlanta's planned public safety training center.

Credit: John Spink

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Credit: John Spink