Five leftist extremists have been arrested and charged with domestic terrorism in Georgia after law enforcement finally responded to their violent months-long campaign aimed at halting the construction of new police training center in Dekalb County's South River Forest.
Although some of the alleged terrorists sought refuge in their nearby treehouses during the counterterrorism operation, the strong arm of the law managed to pull them down.
What are the details?
The Georgia Bureau of Investigation announced that a task force composed of GBI agents, Atlanta police, the FBI, the DeKalb County Police Department, and other agencies executed a successful operation on Tuesday to remove leftist barricades from the entrances to Atlanta's new $90 million police training center and to clear the area of criminal activity.
The operation was prompted by "ongoing criminal activity at the site location," including "carjacking, various crimes against persons, destruction of property, arson, and attacks against public safety officials," wrote GBI spokesman Nelly Miles.
Leftist attacks and threats in the area have become a common occurrence in recent months.
The leftist extremists reportedly also threatened contractors, destroyed equipment, and vandalized offices.
Richard Porter claimed that when he stopped briefly in the area, he was set upon by people apparently living in the woods and wearing "camouflaged stuff."
The extremists allegedly threw a "gas bomb" at Porter and then torched his truck.
WXIA reported that on Saturday, firefighters were dispatched to the area to put out a fire apparently set by the leftists. However, when they attempted to extinguish the flames, they were struck by rocks and firecrackers.
While leftist extremists reportedly pelted police and first responders alike with rocks and bottles on Tuesday, police appear to have answered back with pepper balls.
The task force that addressed the extremist threat this week arrested 22-year-old Francis Carroll of Maine, 25-year-old Nicholas Olson of Nebraska, 25-year-old Serena Hertel of California, 20-year-old Leonardo Vioselle of Georgia, and 22-year-old Arieon Robinson of Wisconsin, each of whom have been charged with domestic terrorism.
Vioselle is the only local among the five charged with terrorism.
The domestic terrorism charges could mean up to 35 years in prison for those so convicted.
The leftist extremists, held in jail without a bond, were also hit with various other charges, including criminal trespass, aggravated assault, obstruction, and interference with government property.
The GBI indicated that police found "explosive devices, gasoline, and road flares" in their search of the "area of concern."
Not protest but terrorism
Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp (R) tweeted, "We will not rest when it comes to bringing domestic terrorists to justice, and these arrests should serve as a strong reminder of that."
District Attorney Sherry Boston said in a release, "I strongly believe in the right to peacefully protest for what one believes is right and just. However, I draw the line at violence, destruction of property, and threatening and causing harm to others. ... The alleged acts of violence at the training facility site put the public in grave danger, and will not be tolerated."
Activists intimated at a press conference in southwestern DeKalb County that the criminality in the area will not end with these arrests, reported the Journal-Constitution.
Atlanta Police Chief Darin Schierbaum underscored how the violent and undemocratic tactics employed by the leftist extremists are unacceptable.
"The discourse of opposition is in city halls, it is in the public square, it is on the sidewalks. That is where you note your displeasure or your disagreement," Schierbaum told the Journal-Constitution. "It is not in Molotov cocktails. It is not in shooting fireworks at firefighters ... it is not throwing rocks at our squad cars. That is criminal activity."Kamau Frankin, founder of the black identitarian group Community Movement Builders, said, "I don’t think people are defeated. ... I think there are forest defenders who will continue to defend the forest. That means civil disobedience, that means rallies, demonstrations. That means all the tactics that we can use."