Masked rioters vandalized the streets of Atlanta, Georgia
Hundreds of activists swarmed downtown Atlanta on Saturday in response to a call for a "night of rage," after one person protesting a planned police training center was killed in a shootout with officers earlier this week.
A crowd of mourners marched through the streets in a "largely peaceful protest," as described by a local FOX reporter. The event turned violent after masked activists began throwing rocks and shooting fireworks at the Atlanta Police Foundation headquarters.
The rioters also smashed the building's windows with hammers, vandalized walls with anti-police graffiti, and set at least one police cruiser on fire, according to multiple photos and videos shared online.
"Atlanta is safe, and our police officers have resolved the disruptions Downtown from this evening," Mayor Andre Dickens said after police swooped in to contain the unrest.
"Atlanta Police have arrested 6 people so far, some of whom were carrying explosives. These individuals meant violence and used the cover of peaceful protest to conceal their motives," Dickens added.
The escalation of violence comes after Manuel Esteban Paez Teran, 26, (a nonbinary person who used they/it pronouns and went by the name Tortuguita, according to AP) allegedly fired a gun at a state trooper and was killed by return fire on Wednesday.
"An individual, without warning, shot a Georgia State Patrol trooper... [and] was killed in the exchange of gunfire," Georgia Bureau of Investigations director Michael Register said earlier this week. The officer was shot in the "pelvic area," but was reportedly in stable condition following surgery.
However, since there is no recording of the shooting as most GSP troopers are not issued body cameras, the activists called the official account of events into question. They reportedly distributed flyers calling for a "night of rage" and violent retaliation, while at least one Twitter account was banned for urging "reciprocal violence to be done to the police and their allies."
Tortuguita was killed as the authorities cleared yet another protester camp from the site of the planned Atlanta Public Safety Training Center. Activists have been camping out at the site of the $90 million project for over a year, claiming it would be "environmentally damaging" to cut down trees to build what they call "Cop City."