Atlanta City Council approves funding for 'Cop City'

ByKiara Alfonseca ABCNews logo
Tuesday, June 6, 2023

The Atlanta City Council on Tuesday approved funding for the construction of a proposed police and firefighter training facility that has struck controversy in Georgia's capital.

The council members voted 11-4 to approve $31 million in public funds for the construction of the Atlanta Public Safety Training Center, as well as a provision that requires the city to pay $36 million -- $1.2 million a year over 30 years -- for using the facility, according to The Associated Press.

Prior to the highly anticipated vote, hundreds of residents and activists packed into Atlanta City Hall and spoke before the council for roughly 14 hours. A vast majority of them opposed the project that they have dubbed "Cop City."

The Atlanta Public Safety Training Center, which will be used for specialized training for both law enforcement and fire department service workers, has garnered national attention for the riotous protests against it. City officials assert the facility could improve policing, while critics claim the effort is militarizing police and endangering local forests.

The center will include an "auditorium for police/fire and public use," a "mock city for burn building training and urban police training," an "Emergency Vehicle Operator Course for emergency vehicle driver training," a K-9 unit kennel and training, according to the center's website.

The first phase of the training center is scheduled to open in late 2023.

The demonstrations against the project escalated when a protester, Manuel Esteban Paez Terán, was shot and killed by police on Jan. 23 as officers raided a campground occupied by demonstrators.

Terán had at least 57 gunshot wounds in their body, according to the autopsy by the DeKalb County Medical Examiner sent to ABC News, including in the hands, torso, legs and head.

Officials said the protester fired the first shot at a state trooper, and the officer responded with the fatal shot.

An autopsy report later showed that Terán did not have gunpowder residue on their hands.

Since Terán's death, protests have continued and dozens of people have been arrested.

Last week, police arrested three Atlanta leaders of the Atlanta Solidarity Fund, which has bailed out protesters and helped them find lawyers. They were charged with money laundering and charity fraud and have since been granted bond.

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