A protest turned violent in downtown Atlanta on Saturday night after the death of an environmental activist who was killed by authorities after officials said the 26-year-old shot a state trooper, reports the Associated Press. Masked activists dressed in all black threw rocks and lit fireworks in front of a skyscraper that houses the Atlanta Police Foundation, shattering large glass windows. They then lit a police cruiser on fire, smashed more windows and vandalized walls with anti-police graffiti as stunned tourists scattered. The violent protesters were a subsection of hundreds of demonstrators who had gathered and marched up Atlanta’s Peachtree Street to mourn the death of the protester, a nonbinary person who went by the name Tortuguita and used they/it pronouns. Tortuguita was killed Wednesday as authorities cleared a small group of protesters from the site of a planned Atlanta-area public safety training center that activists dubbed “Cop City.” The Georgia Bureau of Investigation has said Tortuguita was killed by officers after shooting a state trooper. Activists questioned officials’ version, calling it a “murder” and demanding an independent investigation.
The incident was not recorded on body cameras. The bureau said the trooper was shot in the abdomen by a bullet from a handgun in Tortuguita’s possession. Word of Saturday’s protest had been widely circulated ahead of time on social media and among leftist activists. Atlanta Police Chief Darin Schierbaum said that authorities made six arrests Saturday and recovered explosive devices after the protesters damaged property along Peachtree Street, a corridor of hotels and restaurants. He said no citizens or law enforcement officers were injured. The initial hour of the demonstration had been peaceful as a few activists shared their memories of Tortuguita, describing them as an extremely loving, caring member of the “Stop Cop City” community. Seven people were arrested and charged with domestic terrorism and criminal trespass. They range in age from 20 to 34 years, and none are Georgia residents.