The Dallas Morning News

Authoritie­s clear training center site

Neighborho­od resident says constructi­on area feels like a ‘war zone’


ATLANTA — Law enforcemen­t was out en masse Monday morning at the site of Atlanta’s proposed public safety training center, clearing the woods in anticipati­on of constructi­on on the controvers­ial facility beginning in earnest.

SWAT teams from the Atlanta and Dekalb County police department­s, as well as Georgia State Patrol troopers and representa­tives from other agencies, were seen at the site in southwest Dekalb County. Constructi­on contractor­s were also there with equipment.

Amid the beeping of trucks backing up and the clanging of heavy equipment off Key Road, constructi­on workers busily prepared the site with a backhoe and a bulldozer. Police officers in olive green uniforms patrolled the area atop all-terrain vehicles.

There were no protesters in sight, and no arrests were made. But Margaret Mason Tate, who lives nearby in East Atlanta, complained to reporters about the frequent police presence, adding the noise makes it difficult for her to home-school her young son. A helicopter hovered above the constructi­on site as she spoke.

“I don’t know a neighbor of mine who is excited about this project. And I know I am not,” she said. “I want to invest my tax dollars into the city of Atlanta and not cop city. There is absolutely no way I can adequately express how distressin­g it is to feel like I live in a war zone because it sounds like this all the time. And it is going to keep sounding like that.”

The operation was taking place several days after officials announced that initial land disturbanc­e permits had been approved for the $90 million facility — and about three weeks after a similar clearing operation resulted in the death of 26-year-old Manuel “Tortuguita” Paez Terán.

During that fatal Jan. 18 incident, Paez Terán is accused of firing at troopers “without warning,” wounding one. Paez Terán died after several other troopers returned fire, the Georgia Bureau of Investigat­ion has said.

Family members and attorneys for Paez Terán held a Monday morning news conference in Decatur, Ga., at which they demanded more transparen­cy in the investigat­ion of the shooting.

An independen­t autopsy found that Paez Terán was shot at least a dozen times.

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