DeKalb closes Intrenchment Creek area until further notice due to ‘traps’

Credit: Steve Schaefer

Credit: Steve Schaefer

DeKalb County CEO Michael Thurmond issued an executive order Friday closing Intrenchment Creek Park due to “dangerous and possible life-threatening conditions” to the public.

“We take this very serious action because we know there are dangers that have been discovered in this area and we are afraid that there might be other hidden traps that will not only injure and maim but could literally become deadly for children, pets and others,” Thurmond said during a press conference Friday afternoon.

Thurmond said the GBI has found multiple traps — including boards with nails protruding from them — around the park and forest area that could pose dangers to the community. The executive order closes and restricts access to park and other county owned properties, totaling approximately 140 acres, until further notice.

Credit: Steve Schaefer

Credit: Steve Schaefer

Thurmond said parks and recreation employees have not been able to conduct safety inspections and assess any dangers in the park due to protestors at the site.

“We haven’t had the opportunity to inspect the park because when we send out employees, they were attacked with rocks and other objects, they were forced to flee for their own safety and consequently we did not send employees into that location,” Thurmond said.

The park is near the site of a planned city of Atlanta public safety training center, which has drawn protesters from across the country. Protests have at times turned violent, throwing rocks, fireworks and Molotov cocktails at police.

Unauthorized people who entered the closed parkland could face charges, including criminal trespassing. Any unauthorized vehicle parked in any of the properties will be towed and impounded, with the owner facing possible charges.

The entrances and exits to the properties listed will be closed with the county posting signs prohibiting public access. Anyone caught moving, removing or defacing signs could face prosecution.

Thurmond would not comment on whether law enforcement will be present at the site or how the executive order will be enforced. He feels law abiding citizens will heed the warning and stay away until it is safe to return.

“I have no doubts whatsoever that law abiding citizens that love DeKalb County, love the natural resources of DeKalb County will support this effort because we want Intrenchment Creek to be safe so that we can return it for the purpose it was created,” he said. “Call me naïve, I think law abiding citizens are going to heed the warnings. I’m no presupposing people are going to violate this executive order or any other law.”

Thurmond said he doesn’t expect legal challenges to the executive order.

A March 5 protest at the site resulted in 23 people being arrested and charged with domestic terrorism. Only 13 of them were granted bond by DeKalb County Superior Court Judge Gregory Adams earlier this week, while the remaining nine were denied bond for either being classified as a flight risk or a danger to the community. A Southern Poverty Law Center employee, who had been one of those arrested while serving as a volunteer legal observer on behalf of the National Lawyers Guild, was released on bond a few days after the protest.

The majority were granted $5,000 bonds, with the exception of two who were granted $25,000 bonds. All 13 of them have been released from the DeKalb County Jail.

Correction: An earlier version of this story misstated the job of a Southern Poverty Law Center employee. The employee was arrested while serving as a volunteer legal observer on behalf of the National Lawyers Guild.