Five Antifa members face domestic terrorism charges after cops fall following Atlanta protests
Five Antifa members are in custody on domestic terrorism charges after protesting outside a proposed $90 million police training center in a predominantly black area of Atlanta.
The site of the proposed center has been the focus of protests by Antifa for months, which has dubbed the site – which protesters have made an autonomous zone – Cop City. Many of those arrested were holed up in tree houses, where police later found explosives.
Prior to Tuesday’s arrests, police had arrested several people at the site for crimes including property destruction and arson, when homes under construction were set ablaze, along with car thefts and attacks on locals and government officials.
The official rationale for the protest, according to a report by the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, is environmental concerns for the Welaunee Forest. The center would cut out 381 acres of forest.
Among the photos documenting the protest was a group of protesters dressed in ski masks standing above a truck with a banner reading ‘No Forest No Peace Police Truck’ and a smaller sign reading ‘No Cop City” stood.
Antifa members were arrested Tuesday in Atlanta for resisting a law enforcement operation to clear protesters from the grounds of a new police training facility in a wooded area
Those arrested are: 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.
Earlier this week, the GBI said protesters had begun attacking police officers and other rescue workers at the scene with rocks and bottles. After officers cleared the area, they recovered bombs, flares and gasoline, authorities said.
Several crimes occurred on Saturday when the local fire brigade was called to a dumpster fire. Richard Porter told WXIA that he was ambushed by the group while trying to collect scrap metal from the area.
Porter said members of the group threw things at him, including a “gas bomb.” He escaped, leaving his burned-out truck behind. Porter told the broadcaster: “It seemed to me that they were going to burn the truck with me in it.”
Serena Hertel was charged with trespassing, domestic terrorism, aggravated assault, obstruction and inciting a riot
Arieon Robinson was charged with criminal trespassing, obstruction and domestic terrorism
Leonard Vioselle was charged with trespassing, domestic terrorism and possession of tools of crime
Nicholas Olsen was charged with domestic terrorism, aggravated assault, encroachment on state property and obstruction
Francis Carroll was charged with trespassing, domestic terrorism, aggravated assault, obstruction of crime, encroachment on government property and possession of tools needed to commit the crime
Vioselle is the only member of the group who is from the area where the public security center is being built. Authorities used tear gas and pepper balls to force the protesters away from the scene.
On the day of the arrests, the Atlanta Community Press Collective tweeted: “Tree sitters report being surrounded and being tear-gassed by police.”
While a representative of a group supporting the protest told the Atlanta Solidarity Fund, AJC that those arrested were “legitimate political protesters.”
Marlon Kautz continued: “There is clear evidence to the contrary that the people who arrested, targeted and attacked them engaged in nothing but peaceful civil disobedience.”
A representative from another group, Community Movement Builder, told the newspaper: “I think there are forest defenders who will continue to defend the forest. That means civil disobedience, that means rallies, demonstrations. That means all the tactics we can use.’
The group said dozens of police officers and undercover officers appeared at the scene. After the initial arrest, officers began “coming through the woods to free each and every one,” a local officer told AJC.
Two houses under construction near the protest were burned down by protesters
A burned-out truck at the site of the protest, activists were arrested, among other things, for arson in the course of the confrontation
Garbage can be seen at the site of the protest
Domestic terrorism convictions carry prison terms ranging from five to 35 years. The group is being held at the DeKalb County Jail.
DeKalb County District Attorney Sherry Boston said in a statement, “I firmly believe in the right to protest peacefully for what you believe to be right and just. However, I draw a line against violence, destruction of property, and threatening and harming others.”
She added, “My office will always be committed to protecting the citizens of DeKalb County. The alleged acts of violence on the premises of the training center put the public in great danger and will not be tolerated.”
In a tweet, Republican Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp said, “We will not rest when it comes to bringing domestic terrorists to justice and these arrests should serve as a powerful reminder of that.”
In addition to domestic terrorism charges, the group faces criminal trespassing, trespassing on state property and aggravated assault.
Francis Carroll faces the most charges in the case. He lives in the affluent town of Kennebunkport, Maine, where the famous George HW Bush spent his post-presidency summers.
Hertel is a graduate of Pitzer College, where she received her 2020 degree in Environmental Analysis and Mathematics. An online biography describes her interests as “public health and environmental justice with a focus on prisons and water.”
Opponents of the training center have been protesting for months by building platforms in surrounding trees and camping on the site.
They say the $90 million project that would be built by the Atlanta Police Foundation would involve cutting down so many trees that it would be harmful to the environment. They also refuse to invest so much money in what they call “Cop City,” which they say is being used to practice “urban warfare.”
Owned by the City of Atlanta but just outside the city limits in unincorporated DeKalb County, the 85-acre property includes a former state penitentiary farm.
Firefighters and police officers were attacked with stones and incendiary weapons just as attempts were being made to remove barricades blocking entrances to the site, Boston said. After clearing the area, police found explosive devices, petrol and street flair, the GBI said.
In an email to news outlets, opponents of the training facility said police used “extreme and unjustified measures” against them, including “tear gas canisters and pepper shots.”
The Atlanta City Council voted to lease the land to the Atlanta Police Foundation in September 2021.
The training center would include a rifle range, classrooms, a mock village, an emergency vehicle driving course, stables for police horses, and a “fire building” for firefighters to practice putting out fires. The vote came after weeks of protests by people opposed to the complex.
https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-11544637/Five-Antifa-members-charged-domestic-terrorism-cops-swooped-following-Atlanta-protest.html?ns_mchannel=rss&ns_campaign=1490&ito=1490 Five Antifa members face domestic terrorism charges after cops fall following Atlanta protests