Manuel Teran, 26, was among the activists occupying the development site when officers descended on Wednesday to evict them.
While officers claim they were shot at, and one officer ended up with a non-fatal bullet wound, protestors deny that it came from protestors. Community organizer Kamau Franklin, who has participated in the protests, cites residents in the community, who he says heard a barrage of bullets at one time.
“As the little intel that we have, residents said that they heard a blast of gunshots all at once, and not one blast and then a return of fire,” he said.
A friend of Teran expressed his skepticism of the police narrative to local news outlet WSB-TV.
“My position is that there is no evidence to establish that this person had any history of violence,” Johnson said.
The $90 million development has been the subject of lengthy protests from a wide spectrum of protestors, from environmentalists opposed to plans that would clear over 300 acres of a public forest, to activists urging public officials to divert the money to funds for the community.
The facility– which was strongly opposed by metro Atlanta residents during public hearings– would have “military-grade training facilities” for police officers in a predominantly Black and brown area of the city.
“[W]e think this project really is the beginning of a militarized police base here in Atlanta, which will be the largest facility of its kind in the country,” Franklin noted in an interview with Democracy Now. He continued:
the reason for doing this, coming out of the uprisings, we believe, is to stop movement politics and movement building in Atlanta, to coordinate efforts across the country with other police departments, and now internationally, to stop movement building. And we think this is going to be further sort of terroristic action on Black and Brown communities by a police state which is out of control at this particular stage.
The incident highlights the increased law enforcement presence and targeting of activists since the police killing of Rayshard Brooks, who was fatally shot in a Wendy’s parking lot in 2020. The killing mobilized Atlanta residents to organize against police violence; and it also energized police unions.
These tensions came to a head on Wednesday, with activists still looking for answers as they also mourn a colleague.