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Atlanta Riots a Flashpoint Between Far-Left Domestic Terror Groups and Law Enforcement

Neil Campbell
Neil lives in Canada and writes about society and politics.
Published: January 25, 2023
Atlanta's riots were a flashpoint between far left domestic terrorists and rule of law.
Far left domestic extremist groups, such as Antifa, gathered in black bloc uniform in Atlanta, vandalizing businesses and buildings and destroying a police cruiser with an incendiary device on Jan. 21. The violence came in response to the killing of a group member by Georgia Law Enforcement, who returned fire after a State Trooper was shot in the abdomen. (Image: Twitter screenshot via Garrison Davis @hungrybowtie)

Although riots over the weekend of Jan. 20 in downtown Atlanta that saw buildings smashed and police cars destroyed by incendiary devices were characterized by establishment media as peaceful protests held by activists in response to a police shooting, facts of the incident paint a different picture of the showdown between Georgia law enforcement and increasingly emboldened domestic terrorist groups.

The latest rout got started on Jan. 18 when the Georgia Bureau of Investigation and local police agencies conducted a “planned clearing operation” of an area situated in the outskirt forests of Atlanta where police are set to begin building an 85-acre training grounds.

Reporting on the shooting by CNN cited “opponents of the project,” nicknamed the facility “Cop City,” and described the skirmish as between police and “activists” who “camped out for months in the forest in an attempt to halt construction.”

The article explained that during the clearing, one individual ambushed officers while hiding inside a tent, shooting a State Trooper in the abdomen.

Police opened fire on the tent in response, killing the shooter.

CNN states that the group blocking construction calls themselves Defend the Atlanta Forest, who in a Twitter post claimed that, “Police killed a forest defender today, someone who loved the forest, someone who fought to protect the earth & its inhabitants.”

An Associated Press wire on Jan. 20 released the identity of the shooter as 26-year-old Manuel Esteban Paez Teran, which Defend the Atlanta Forest described on Twitter as part of a peaceful group who was “camping in a public park to defend the Weelaunee Forest.”

‘Night of Rage’

Foremost expert on Antifa and other far-left domestic terror groups, Andy Ngo, revealed that anarchist organizations immediately began mobilizing in response.

A related Twitter account, Scenes From the Atlanta Forest, put out a “call for retaliation” on Jan. 18, where the group issued “a call for reciprocal violence to be done to the police and their allies,” including photographs and personal information of Georgia Department of Public Safety officers they targeted.

The group also called for a “Night of Rage” to be organized on Jan. 20, subtitled with the caption “Make Them Pay.”

Such left-wing extremist organizations are generally known as “Antifa”, which comes from the German antifaschistische Aktion (anti-fascist action), and originally described a Soviet front organization active in 1920s Germany. The name became popular among UK and U.S.-based far-left groups decades later.

The original Antifa’s aim, as directed by the Kremlin, was to form a “united front” against everything it labelled “fascist” — that is, non-communist German society.

The Soviet Union’s attempts to meddle in German politics had the opposite effect. Antifa’s violent street tactics enraged and helped radicalize mainstream Germans in a right-wing direction, fueling the Nazis in their rise to power.

Open calls for terror

Although Scenes From the Atlanta Forest was permanently suspended by Elon Musk’s Twitter after making the declaration, Ngo reported that several other “extremist accounts with large followings who urge deadly violence” rebroadcasted the marching orders.

One such Pittsburgh-based account, which Ngo described as an Antifa “propaganda group,” told its 15,000 followers “solidarity means attack” and “solidarity attacks better spread like [expletive] wildfires.”

Last December, the same account used Twitter to advertise custom made flags to other organizations, stating, “With the help of [our] all-new Ultimatum Sized flags, your terror cell can deliver a statement that will strike fear into the heart of the enemy.”

Ngo also pointed out in both December and May that claims by Defend the Atlanta Forest saying its activities are benign are spurious at best. 

Ngo described the area instead as an “autonomous zone” with the same characteristics as the CHOP and CHAZ areas in Seattle. Those areas declared themselves welfare states outside the jurisdiction of the United States, and were rife with drug abuse and violence before collapsing.

In a May of 2022 tweet, Ngo revealed a propaganda photo issued by the group showing what appears to be five young men wearing balaclavas and holding the Marxist revolutionary fist hand sign standing overtop of an overturned pickup truck at the site.

“Most of the militants there come from other states. This truck was later set on fire to try to burn down the forest during a police raid on May 17,” Ngo stated.

Just a few weeks prior on April 22, the Defend the Atlanta Forest Twitter account claimed it held a “#EarthDay” event at the site where “30 school children paint and play in the sun, celebrating,” including photographs of childrens’ paintings.

“A quarter mile away, Atlanta & Dekalb Police shoot fully-automatic weapons at their shooting range all morning. One of their targets is a school bus,” the account added.

Organized strategy

Ngo pointed out that the militants actually used the planned Jan. 20 “Night of Rage” as a decoy, “Because serious violence failed to materialize on the original planned date of Jan. 20, the militants escalated their tactics for the following night, Saturday.”

Crowdsourced footage of the Jan. 21 riots published to Twitter by the AntifaWatch account showed hundreds of young people dressed in the typical “black bloc” uniform marching through the streets of downtown Atlanta.

The footage showed the group was highly organized, using vigil banner carriers to screen cameramen and attempting to intimidate those filming as the group threw an incendiary device through the broken window of a police cruiser, setting it ablaze.

A second AntifaWatch video shows that a carrier delivered a large bag of “bricks/rocks,” which was left in the path of the march for black bloc-clad members to use to hurl at buildings, vehicles, and police.

The organized unit primarily targeted the Atlanta Police Foundation building, but the march continued through downtown, smashing businesses.


According to a Jan. 21 tweet by Mayor of Atlanta, Andre Dickens, six people were arrested during the events, “some of whom were carrying explosives.”

Dickens added, “These individuals meant violence and used the cover of peaceful protest to conceal their motives.”

The half dozen arrested members of the attack were particularly notable on account of their having traveled to Atlanta from out of state and mostly originating from wealthy families, Ngo stated in a Jan. 23 piece published in the New York Post titled Spoiled Children of Privilege Trying to Burn Atlanta Down.

Ngo’s investigation revealed the group included: 

  • A 22-year-old man from Maine “who lived in his parents’ mansion”
  • A 22-year-old man from Spokane “from the wealthy Portland…suburb of Happy Valley”
  • A 37-year-old woman from Michegan who “served as the at-large chair for the Chicago chapter of Al Gore’s ‘Climate Reality Project’ organization”
  • A 23-year-old man from Nevada, described as a “award-winning, classically trained clarinetist” who studied at the San Francisco Conservatory of Music

Ngo also noted that earlier arrests in connection with the event included a Brooklyn woman who previously worked for Reuters and CNN, and a Minneapolis-based woman who was formerly an intern at the U.S. Department of Justice.

A Jan. 23 tweet by Ngo also stated that the son of Democrat House Minority Whip Katherine Clark was arrested in Boston after wounding a police officer at a local “solidarity” event held in connection with the Atlanta events.

State of Georgia Attorney General Chris Carr weighed in on the violence with harsh words for the local media during a Jan. 21 tweet, which has since been pinned to his profile.

“To the Atlanta Media: Peaceful protestors use words. Rioters smash windows, set police cars on fire & shoot law enforcement officers. Stop calling these people protesters.”

In a second tweet, AG Carr warned the terrorist cells, “We are not Oregon. We are not California. We are not Washington. You cannot come to our state, break our laws, throw rocks at buildings, damage property, and shoot police officers.”

“You can and you will be charged, and that’s exactly what we’re doing.”