Man charged, accused of vandalizing public safety headquarters during protests

The Georgia Department of Public Safety headquarters on United Avenue suffered broken windows and was tagged with graffiti following a protest that turned violent.
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The Georgia Department of Public Safety headquarters on United Avenue suffered broken windows and was tagged with graffiti following a protest that turned violent.

An Atlanta man is facing multiple charges after state investigators accused him of vandalizing the Georgia Department of Public Safety headquarters during a protest last summer.

Andrew Carlisle, 39, is charged with one count of rioting and two counts of felony criminal interference with government property in connection with the vandalism, which happened in the early morning hours of July 5, the GBI said.

The protest was one of several across the nation as outrage grew over the deaths of multiple Black people at the hands of police officers last year.

ExploreComplete coverage: Atlanta protests

Between 60 and 100 people wearing dark clothing approached the DPS building on United Avenue about 1 a.m., the Georgia State Patrol previously said in a statement. The building serves as the headquarters for GSP and houses several other state agencies.

The GSP statement referred to the group as protesters and said many of them were wearing masks. Several people were armed with rocks and carried spray paint and fireworks, police said.

ExploreGroup vandalizes state public safety HQ, causes ‘extensive damage’

“The group caused extensive damage to several windows along the front of the building,” the GSP said in a statement. A public safety vehicle that was parked outside the headquarters was damaged, and the building itself was “spray-painted heavily in several places,” the statement said.

A small fire broke out in a DPS office after a firework was thrown through an open window, authorities said. DPS personnel were able to put the fire out, but two public safety employees were treated for smoke inhalation after the incident, officials said.

Investigators determined Carlisle was one of the people who caused damage to the building and public safety vehicle, the GBI said in a statement.

“Carlisle was among a group of individuals that threw stones and incendiary devices through windows and spray-painted graffiti during the incident,” officials said.

It is not clear how Carlisle was identified as a suspect. He is being held in the Gwinnett County Jail on charges unrelated to the GSP incident.

In the days following the protest, several activists denounced the destruction, saying the vandals who broke windows and set fire to the building detracted from the message of the Black Lives Matter movement.

“Events like that make Black Lives Matter look bad, and that’s not what we’re doing,” videographer Kelvin Carey told Channel 2 Action News.

Protest organizer Quinton Davis told the news station that those who vandalized the building showed up suddenly and immediately got aggressive toward police.

“I think it sends a bad message to the people in the community to think that they are with us or with Black Lives Matter or any other organization that’s positive,” he said.

The GBI is still working to identify other people involved in the incident. Anyone with information is asked to call 770-388-5019.