Five Left-wing environmental protesters have been charged with domestic terrorism for allegedly targeting a planned $90 million police training center to be built on nearly 400 acres of the Weelaunee Forest.
Some of the protesters were living in the nearby Weelaunee Forest; police reportedly found “explosive devices, gasoline, and road [flares]” in the area. One photo showed protesters wearing ski masks brandishing a banner reading: “No forest, no peace, truck the police” and a smaller sign reading, “No Cop City.”
“Yesterday, several people threw rocks at police cars and attacked EMTs outside the neighboring fire stations with rocks and bottles,” Georgia Bureau of Investigation (GBI) spokeswoman Nelly Miles stated. “Task force members used various tactics to arrest individuals who were occupying makeshift treehouses.”
“The discourse of opposition is in city halls, it is in the public square, it is on the sidewalks. That is where you note your displeasure or your disagreement,” Atlanta Police Chief Darin Schierbaum stated to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution (AJC). “It is not in Molotov cocktails. It is not in shooting fireworks at firefighters. … It is not throwing rocks at our squad cars. That is criminal activity. The reason that the Georgia Bureau of Investigation and the FBI are investigating this is because this isn’t protest. This is terrorism.”
“I strongly believe in the right to peacefully protest for what one believes is right and just,” District Attorney Sherry Boston stated. “However, I draw the line at violence, destruction of property, and threatening and causing harm to others. My office will always stand up to protect the citizens of DeKalb County. The alleged acts of violence at the training facility site put the public in grave danger, and will not be tolerated.”
The five protesters charged with domestic terrorism include Serena Hertel, 25, of California, Nicholas Olson, 25, of Nebraska, Francis Carroll, 22, of Maine, Arieon Robinson, 22, of Wisconsin and Leonardo Vioselle, 20, of Macon, Georgia.
One man whose truck was allegedly burned informed WXIA, “People started coming out of the woods in camouflage stuff … they were throwing gas bombs, or whatever they were, at me.
“We will not rest when it comes to bringing domestic terrorists to justice, and these arrests should serve as a strong reminder of that,” Georgia GOP Governor Brian Kemp tweeted.
We will not rest when it comes to bringing domestic terrorists to justice, and these arrests should serve as a strong reminder of that.
— Governor Brian P. Kemp (@GovKemp) December 14, 2022
Kemp told AJC that the GBI, the Atlanta Police Department, and the FBI would “continue to work closely together as we disrupt the entire criminal network and ensure construction for the first responder training facility moves forward.”