Training center opponents claim responsibility for torched police car

‘Other arrests are coming,’ police chief says
The vehicle fire happened on Greendale Drive shortly before 4 a.m. Saturday.

Credit: Atlanta Police Department

Credit: Atlanta Police Department

The vehicle fire happened on Greendale Drive shortly before 4 a.m. Saturday.

The Atlanta Police Department anticipates more arrests after an anonymous faction of activists opposed to Atlanta’s public safety training center claimed responsibility for burning a police car. An online post says the arson was a response to recent law enforcement actions including the arrest of an activist charged with arson in the July 2023 burning of several police motorcycles.

“We will answer their aggression by keeping up the pace of attacks,” the post said.

Atlanta Police Chief Darin Schierbaum provided updates at a Saturday evening news conference.

“We are not going to allow, as a police department or a law enforcement community, this city to be held hostage to fear and intimidation through fire,” he said.

“The citizens of Atlanta, they are residents of a first-class city. They deserve and should expect first-class first responders of their fire and police department,” Schierbaum. “An attempt to use fire to incite fear to stop the building of a training center that is vital to us being a first-class city protected by first-class first responders will fail.”

Replacing the vehicle will cost taxpayers $80,000, he said.

“Arson is wrong. Arson is a crime that puts lives in danger,” Schierbaum said. “This department will not tolerate that.”

Local and federal agencies began investigating after the police vehicle was found burning Saturday morning in southeast Atlanta.

Atlanta police officers and firefighters were called to the 300 block of Greendale Drive, off Browns Mill Road, shortly before 4 a.m. regarding the vehicle fire. As crews were extinguishing the flames, police said they noticed it was an Atlanta Police Department patrol vehicle.

The vehicle was parked, and no one was inside at the time of the blaze. No injuries were reported.

Homeland Security, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, the GBI, the Atlanta fire arson unit, and the city’s police department are all investigating. Numerous citizens provided video footage to investigators, and a person is being sought for questioning, Schierbaum said.

“Other arrests are coming,” he said.

The department in 2022 unveiled newly designed patrol cars and announced a program to allow officers to take them home. The arrangement is meant to deter crime, the activists’ online post notes.

“We think that’s funny,” it said.

The anonymous post claiming responsibility for the incident described the operation as a simple one.

“Our skills are not overly technical or advanced, and our tools are simple to acquire,” it read. “If you are reading this, you are capable of doing what we do.”

In a similar online post, activists claimed responsibility for a November 2023 arson attack that destroyed vehicles at a concrete business.

“We placed incendiary devices and kindling near the engine block, the fuel tank behind it, and the double rear tires,” it read. “We encourage further experimentation with incendiary placement.”

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