The protesters descended on the site during a live music festival organized by protesters on day two of a planned week of action to protest the proposed facility.
Anti-police and environmental activists have been against plans for “Cop City” since they were approved by city council in June 2021.
The center, funded largely by donations to the nonprofit Atlanta Police Foundation, would include classrooms, an amphitheater, and training areas for police to role-play real-life scenarios like shoot-outs and high-speed chases.
The proposed site in DeKalb County is located inside 1,000 acres of woods, which environmental activists want to become protected green space.
Both groups have raised concerns about the facility, which they believe will promote police militarization and harm the environment.
Sunday’s protests ended in violence, with protesters hurling bricks, Molotov cocktails, and fireworks at police officers, and setting vehicles on fire.
Videos from the scene captured towering plumes of flames and smoke rising about the fenced-in site. It’s unclear if anyone was injured, but Atlanta Police noted that the agitators’ path of destruction “could have resulted in bodily harm.”
This is not the first time demonstrations against the facility have ended in violence. In January, a state trooper fatally shot a 26-year-old protester and environmental activist, Manuel Esteban Paez Terán, during a confrontation.
Police said Terán shot and injured a state trooper before other officers returned fire. Activists have questioned the police account of the shooting, as well as the lack of body camera footage.