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Judge denies request for restraining order to stop ‘Cop City’ construction

Crime and public safety DeKalb County Trending

Judge denies request for restraining order to stop ‘Cop City’ construction

Activists opposing the construction of “Cop City” at the Old Atlanta Prison Farm have occupied the site and neighboring Intrenchment Creek Park. Photo by Dean Hesse.

This story has been updated.

DeKalb County, GA — On Friday, Feb. 17, a Fulton County judge rejected a request from a DeKalb County Commissioner, the South River Watershed Alliance and a member of an advisory committee overseeing the construction of a police training center for a restraining order to stop work at the site.

The plaintiffs filed the complaint against the Atlanta Police Foundation, which is building the training center. The police foundation is constructing an 85-acre police/fire training facility located in DeKalb County’s South River Forest, called “Cop City” by activists. The location has historically been the Old Atlanta Prison Farm site.

Fulton County Superior Court Judge Thomas Cox issued the order on Friday. Cox wrote, “The Court acknowledges the importance of the environmental protections the plaintiffs raise. The Court must consider, however, the legal standard and issues necessary for resolving this motion. Those considerations weigh heavily toward the defendant. For the foregoing reasons, the Court DENIES the Motion.”

However, the judge did impose some accountability on the police foundation for environmental disturbances at the site.

“Counsel for Atlanta Police Foundation, Inc. stated in open court that his Client would be willing to submit to and pay for daily inspections on the site to ensure that the LDP is being followed and that the project is causing as little disturbance to the land as possible,” the judge wrote. “Therefore, the Courts ORDERS the Defendant(s) to immediately (beginning Saturday, February 18, 2023) coordinate daily inspections of the property and to pay for the same.”

To read the judge’s ruling, click here.

The debate over constructing the facility has become international news. Police officers shot and killed Manuel “Tortuguita” Esteban Paez Teran, 26, on Jan. 18 near the site, and a state Trooper was wounded during the incident, which has resulted in several protests.

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports that a member of the advisory committee helping to oversee the project, Amy Taylor, is appealing the county’s issuance of a land disturbance permit that would allow construction to move forward.

The South River Watershed Alliance and DeKalb Commissioner Ted Terry joined Taylor in filing a complaint in Fulton County Superior Court on Feb. 13 seeking to halt construction activities related to the training center.

DeKalb County issued a land disturbance permit on Feb. 2. Taylor filed an appeal with the county’s zoning board of appeals on Feb. 6. To see the appeal to the county’s zoning board of appeals, click here.

The judge said that appeal should be allowed to play out.

“As there is an adequate remedy at law (the appeal currently before the Zoning Board) and the temporary restraining order is being denied, this matter is not ripe to appear before this court,” Judge Cox wrote.

Several residents and activists have urged DeKalb County to issue a stop work order on the construction of the training center. Various residents raised concerns about the development during the DeKalb Board of Commissioners meeting on Thursday, Feb. 16.

Reporter Zoe Seiler contributed to this story. 

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