(Washington) Plus de 20 personnes, dont un Français et un Canadien, ont été inculpées lundi aux États-Unis pour « terrorisme intérieur » après avoir participé à des violences contre un chantier destiné à accueillir un mégacentre de formation de la police à Atlanta, selon les forces de l’ordre.
Le projet, surnommé « Cop city » par ses opposants, fait l’objet d’une vive contestation depuis son lancement en 2021 et la colère des opposants a grandi après la mort, en janvier, d’un militant lors d’un affrontement avec la police.
Dimanche soir, « un groupe d’agitateurs violents a utilisé le prétexte d’une manifestation pacifique […] to carry out a coordinated attack on construction equipment and police officers,” Atlanta police said in a statement.
After participating in a nearby festival, they “dressed in black, entered the construction site and started throwing rocks, bricks, Molotov cocktails and fireworks at the police officers”, she added.
No officers were injured, but construction machinery was set on fire, Atlanta Police Chief Darin Schierbaum said at a press conference.
After reporting 35 arrests, the police communicated on Monday on the indictment of 23 people, from all over the United States, but also from France and Canada, for “domestic terrorism”.
This charge, punishable by 35 years in prison, had already been upheld by the judicial authorities of the State of Georgia during previous scuffles around the site, while violent protesters are usually prosecuted on counts related to the nature of their acts (intrusion, vandalism, destruction, violence, etc.).
Since 2021 and the first announcement of the construction of a training center, intended for the police, but also for firefighters and rescuers, on more than 34 hectares in a wooded area of the metropolis, protest has been mounting against the project.
Sometimes installed in trees destined to be felled, the opponents denounce a future environmental disaster and a waste of money in favor of the police, which would not meet the real needs of the inhabitants.
On January 18, Manuel Esteban Paez Teran, a 26-year-old protester who was camping in a wood intended to be partly razed, was killed by the police.
According to Georgia authorities, a state trooper was first hit in the stomach by a gunshot from Manuel Esteban Paez Teran, before law enforcement responded. Other demonstrators reject the version of the police, highlighting the pacifist profile of the activist nicknamed “Tortuguita”.
An independent autopsy revealed that Manuel Esteban Paez Teran had been hit by 13 shots from different weapons, family lawyers said.