Local, state, federal officials in Georgia decry violence in Downtown Atlanta

People threw rocks and fireworks in front of the Atlanta Police Foundation officers, lit an Atlanta police car on fire, smashed windows and painted anti-police graffiti in Downtown Atlanta on Saturday night.

The violence came days after law enforcement shot and killed an environmental activist who the Georgia Bureau of Investigation said shot a state trooper.

No police or first responders were injured and a total of six people were arrested, officials said.


State, federal and local officials watched the chaos unfold.  Atlanta Mayor Andre Dickens said at the Atlanta Police Department headquarters on Saturday "some of them were found with explosives on them."

"Make no mistake about it, these individuals meant harm to people and to property," he said.

Gov. Brian Kemp, who has called "Stop Cop City" activists "militant," thanked state and local law enforcement who responded to Downtown Atlanta when property damage ensued. 

U.S. Sen. Jon Ossoff also condemned the violence in Atlanta.

"Peaceful protest is a sacred Constitutional right, but violence is unacceptable, cannot be permitted or tolerated, and must cease immediately," Ossoff said in a statement.

"Atlanta is born of the spirit of demonstration and protest," a statement from Atlanta City Councilman Michael Julian Bond said. "It is in that  spirit that my parents participated in the desegregating Atlanta in the early 1960s. Which at the time seemed radical and outrageous. It is also from that Spirit that Dr. King lead a movement that ultimately changed the world. We should not fear protest, but we should denounce & avoid violence and any call for it. We should seek, and never fear, dialogues with those whose opinions & goals may differ, but whose dreams  may be like ours, to ultimately move Atlanta forward."

The Atlanta-based Carter Center condemned the recent violence in Atlanta.

"The Carter Center condemns the recent violence linked to the campaign to stop the construction of a police training facility in South River Forest, located southeast of Atlanta. We support the right for individuals to protest peacefully and call for a transparent investigation into the death of the protester and the injury of the Georgia state trooper. We also urge the local authorities to initiate constructive dialogue about the training facility to address the complex community and environmental issues at the center of the protests."

The King Center voiced its disproval of the violent tactics in a lengthy statement:

"The Martin Luther King Center for Nonviolent Social Change (The King Center) and its CEO, Dr. Bernice A. King, are disappointed by the destructive aftermath of the recent protest in the wake of the death of Manuel Esteban Paez Teran and the injury to a Georgia State Patrolman. For two years, plans to construct a Public Safety Training Facility ("Cop City") in Atlanta’s South River Forest have been met with protests. We continue to support nonviolent protest as a strategic, powerful method for social and systemic change that conquers violence without perpetuating violence.  

"However, as Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. expressed in his 1967 speech, ‘The Other America,' "I think America must see that riots do not develop out of thin air. Certain conditions continue to exist in our society which must be condemned as vigorously as we condemn riots. But in the final analysis, a riot is the language of the unheard."  

"We are failing to "hear" each other, to understand the current conditions of our city and the violent seeds sowed by and in this nation, and to connect, even amid tension and discontent, to determine a just, humane, equitable, and peaceful path forward.   

"We encourage and are willing to participate in dialogue and negotiation, between those on opposing sides of this conflict, that dignifies rather than disregards humanity. While we encourage negotiation, it is critical to understand that nonviolent negotiation in no way means acquiescence to injustice and inhumanity. The goal is true peace, which includes justice.   

"The continuum of justice must include a thorough, unbiased investigation of all police-involved killings, including the shooting death of Manuel Esteban Paez Teran as well as the injury of the Georgia State Patrolman.

"We are praying for Teran's family, friends, and community and for the full recovery of the injured officer." 

The Associated Press contributed to this report.