Protests Turn Violent in Downtown Atlanta

Several arrests made in the wake of police shooting of a 'forest defender'
By John Johnson,  Newser Staff
Posted Jan 22, 2023 6:41 AM CST
Protests Turn Violent in Downtown Atlanta
Police block a downtown street following a protest, Saturday, Jan. 21, 2023, in Atlanta.   (AP Photo/Alex Slitz)

Protesters angry at police on two fronts turned violent in downtown Atlanta Saturday night, reports WSB-TV. At least six people were arrested after demonstrators clad in black smashed store windows, lit a police cruiser on fire, and vandalized walls, per the AP. The violence stemmed from anger over the planned construction of a police training center as well as the fatal police shooting of an activist described as a "forest defender" last week. As CNN reports, that fatal shooting took place Wednesday as police were clearing out a wooded area designated as the future site of the training facility known derisively among opponents as "Cop City."

The Georgia Bureau of Investigation says officers shot and killed 26-year-old Manuel Esteban Paez Teran, known as Tortuguita, after he shot and wounded a trooper during the police raid on the woods Wednesday morning. Tortuguita had been camping there with others opposed to the razing of the area. Fellow protesters dispute the official account of the shooting and have demanded an independent investigation. In an interview with CNN, Tortuguita's mother describes her son as a "pacifist," though police say the gun used to shoot the trooper was in his possession.

On Saturday, hundreds of protesters opposed to the construction of the training center marched into downtown Atlanta, and authorities say a small subsection turned the protest into a violent one over Tortuguita's death. One flyer in circulation before the event read: “Police killed a protester. Stand up. Fight back.” No injuries were reported Saturday, and Mayor Andre Dickens says some of those arrested are not from the area. “My message is simple for those who seek to continue this kind of criminal behavior,” he said. “We will find you, and we will arrest you, and you will be held accountable.” (More Atlanta stories.)

Get the news faster.
Tap to install our app.
Install the Newser News app
in two easy steps:
1. Tap in your navigation bar.
2. Tap to Add to Home Screen.