Cop City: APD, GBI part of multi-agency probe into 'criminal activities' at site

Several agencies are investigating allegations of crimes committed concerning what they call "criminal activities" at the planned site for a training center for Atlanta police and other first responders.

The Georgia Bureau of Investigation and the Atlanta Police Department confirm they are part of the multi-agency probe into the activity around what opponents call "cop city."

The planned facility, sitting along Key Road in DeKalb County’s South River Forest, is at the center of a bitter and drawn-out battle. Numerous groups oppose what they see as an overreach of a police state into the Atlanta woodlands.

"We don’t think this center is necessary," said Kamau Franklin, director of the Community Movement Builders, a grassroots group that opposes gentrification and police brutality. "People are upset and angry: one, about the deforestation and two, about the over-policing happening in their communities."

The site and nearby the Boulderwalk neighborhood have been flash points. Last month, flames torched construction equipment across the street from Boulderwalk. This past summer, vandals destroyed surveillance cameras in the neighborhood and set fire to a truck of a nearby landowner in separate incidents.

Franklin calls the investigation a witch hunt.

"This is an attempt by the city of Atlanta, the police department and the police foundation to criminalize the movement against cop city. This is really about turning the narrative around making it seem like the police themselves are in some sort of danger," Franklin said.

Marc Bolden, president of the Boulderwalk homeowners’ association, welcomes the investigation.

"If there were no acts of violence and destruction of property, there wouldn’t be a need for an investigation," Bolden said. "There’ve been lots of acts of violence and destruction of property. They have to investigate it. It just seems like that it’s only the right thing. It’s their job."

Franklin wants to see more probes into allegations of police brutality that gave rise to the Black Lives Matter movement, instead of investigations of protesters.

"What’s really happening is a shift in narrative that’s meant to support the police. That’s not meant to get to the issue of over-policing and the criminality of police in the black community," Franklin said.

Neither Atlanta police, nor the GBI, would reveal details of their investigations or the other agencies that are involved.