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Protesters cause over $10M in damages to Atlanta public safety training center site

Atlanta officials have seen arson, property damage and increased insurance rates due to protests at the proposed site


Protestors demonstrating against Atlanta’s public training safety center clash with police in Atlanta on Nov. 13.

Arvin Temkar/

By Jozsef Papp, Alexis Stevens
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

ATLANTA — A faction of protesters who oppose the city’s planned public safety training center have caused more than $10 million in damage by torching construction equipment and police vehicles and committing other acts of destruction throughout the metro area, Atlanta Mayor Andre Dickens said Wednesday.

“They do not want Atlanta to have safety,” Dickens said. “They do not care about peace or about our communities. These acts of destruction must end. They must stop.”

[RELATED: Atlanta construction site arson linked to controversial public safety training center]

Dickens and Atlanta Police Department Chief Darin Schierbaum spoke at police headquarters a day after construction equipment was set ablaze near a south metro area hospital.

“Anarchists aren’t going to win in Atlanta, Georgia,” said Schierbaum, who said protesters are also suspected of cutting a chain-link fence at the department’s Mounted Patrol unit and luring a horse out with food. The horse was not injured and an officer arrived quickly to return the horse to the barn before others got out.

Officers now guard the barn around the clock.

In January, Dickens’ administration said increased security measures, litigation and a spike in insurance rates had caused the training center’s estimated cost to jump by $19 million. The Atlanta Police Foundation and its donors will cover the additional cost, which increased the total cost of the facility from $90 million to $109 million, the city said at the time.

On Wednesday, Dickens noted the financial burden that destruction inflicts on individuals. Damaged construction idles workers while machinery is replaced, and taxpayers foot the bill when incinerated police vehicles must be replaced, Dickens said.

“What we’ve been seeing lately is not a protest for equality but a way to vandalize our communities,” Dickens said.

A Tuesday morning fire near Piedmont Fayette Hospital was the latest in a string of incidents where equipment belonging to contractors working on the training center project has been set on fire.

Unsolved arson incidents being investigated by Atlanta police date back to May 2022, when someone broke a window at the back of the At-Promise Center and tossed in four Molotov cocktails and an incendiary device.

In January, four pieces of construction equipment were set on fire at a townhome development two miles from the training center site; authorities said they suspected activists opposed to the center started the fire.

An anonymous faction of training center protesters claimed responsibility for a fire that burned multiple vehicles at a concrete business in Gwinnett County in November. In July, a fire at a police precinct burned a number of police motorcycles. John Robert Mazurek, 31, was charged with arson.

In March, activists were arrested for the third time this year after using reinforced pipes to lock themselves to equipment at Midtown work sites connected to contractors involved in the construction of the facility.

Atlanta officers and firefighters helped get the protesters down, Dickens noted.

“The irony here can’t be missed,” he said.

The training center remains on track to open later this year.

“Here’s a news flash,” Dickens said. “The training center is well on its way during this construction cycle. We will continue to construct the Atlanta public safety training center and we will complete it this year. We are well on our way. Construction is happening each and every day.”

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