Atlanta Mayor Andre Dickens rebuked those claiming that the anti-police riots seen overnight were not violent, saying that the charges against the six protesters arrested will include “domestic terrorism.”
Dickens, a Democrat, pushed back on CBS host Margaret Brennan during an appearance on “Face The Nation” Sunday morning. During a panel slated to discuss crime and violence plaguing American cities, Brennan asked for an update on the protests in response to the death of 26-year-old environmentalist activist Manuel Esteban Paez Teran.
Teran reportedly went by the name Tortuguita, identified as nonbinary, and used they/it pronouns. Authorities said Teran first shot and wounded a state trooper tasked with clearing protesters from the construction site of a new public safety training center.
Teran was allegedly killed by Georgia State Patrol officers who returned fire, and Brennan noted how the protests in downtown Atlanta Saturday came in response to police saying body-camera footage of the shooting doesn’t exist. Dickens, instead, emphasized how the peaceful protests devolved into violence, noting how individuals “had explosives,” “burned down a police car” and “broke windows at businesses.”
“And so our police department, along with our state and federal partners, took swift action within two blocks and brought that situation under control,” Dickens said Sunday. “And the violence stopped, and those six individuals were arrested. And it should be noted that these individuals were not Atlanta or Georgia residents. Most of them traveled into our city to wreak havoc. And so, we love to support people when they’re doing right, peaceful protest is a part of the American — our freedoms, but when you are violent, we will make sure that you get held accountable.”
“When you say people from out of town, they’re carrying explosives. Is this an organized movement here?” Brennan responded, noting how Atlanta newspapers cite possible links to “environmental activists, radical anarchist and black revolutionaries.” Brenna also cited claims from Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene, R-Georgia, blaming Democrats for condoning Black Lives Matter and Antifa.
While Dickens declined to respond to Greene’s remarks, he agreed the riots constitute “domestic terrorism.”
“The crimes range from violence to domestic terrorism to assault battery and some other things,” the mayor said. “But yes, it is violent when someone turns to burn down a police car or breakout windows or have explosives on them. I don’t get into the names. I don’t know all the organizations. I’ll let y’all decide who did it. I just know they’re arrested. And if they come into Atlanta, again, to wreak havoc, they will be arrested again.”
“But do you believe your city is being targeted by organized groups?” Brennan pressed.
“Yes, those individuals that are protesting against ‘Cop City,’ as they call it, it’s really a public safety training center,” Dickens said. “They don’t want to see the very things that they asked for more police training, we can’t train imaginary, we have to do it in a facility that allows for police firefighters in the community to train together. And so this is bringing about the change that we wanted to see in 2020. And now while we’re doing it, these individuals don’t want to see any resources go towards that training is so we’re going to develop this training center and those individuals will have to come to a halt.”
Dickens’ interview comes after CNN and ABC News coverage of the Atlanta riots received backlash online.
CNN guest David Peisner caught flak Saturday for claiming that the only violence taking place in the fiery uproar in Atlanta was being instigated by police.
ABC News was also panned for a tweet categorizing the violence as a “peaceful protest” above a video showing an Atlanta police car on fire in the street.
Fox News’ Taylor Penley contributed to this report.