The disturbance happened around 6 p.m. Tuesday because residents were upset about what some consider excessive force used during an arrest by police the day before, which was captured by cellphone video, police said. Atlanta police spokesman Carlos Campus told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution that officers used batons and pepper spray during Monday’s arrest.
Campos said about 50 people had gathered Tuesday to demonstrate, and officers were sent to monitor them before the items were thrown at their cars. The cars were damaged, but no injuries were reported.
“Some of the protesters set upon the officers, throwing items at them,” Campos told the newspaper. “We understand there were bricks thrown, hammers thrown, some rocks, different debris thrown at them, at their cars.”
Residents in the neighborhood feel like they are unnecessarily and excessively targeted by police patrols and frisking, said Marlon Kautz, a volunteer with a group called CopWatch of East Atlanta, which works with residents in the neighborhood in an effort to prevent police brutality.
Kautz said he arrived at the apartment complex Tuesday evening and saw police shoving and beating two people. He didn’t see anyone throwing bricks or hammers but said he doesn’t doubt it.
“It wouldn’t surprise me because I know the public here is completely outraged by what they see as a continuing pattern of police harassment and violence in this neighborhood. They don’t feel like they have any recourse,” he said.
The neighborhood has traditionally been a poor black neighborhood that has been gentrifying in recent years, which has caused housing prices to rise dramatically and has resulted in some residents being edged out, said Kautz, who has lived in the area for three or four years. The new residents who are moving in are concerned about crime in the area, and that has led to increased police patrols, he said.