An outspoken critic of the planned Atlanta Public Safety Training Center was arrested on Friday after allegedly stealing and crashing a Mercedes Benz in the area, a police report of the incident detailed.
Rev. Matthew Vaughan Johnson Jr., the executive director of Beloved Community Ministries in Atlanta, went to a local mechanic to pick up his car when he allegedly swiped the keys to a luxury vehicle, driving the car off the lot and collided with two cars before fleeing the scene, according to the police report obtained by the Daily Caller News Foundation. Johnson aligned himself with the “antifa” movement and supported Defend the Atlanta Forest in a letter published in the summer.
“Police are the frontliners to reinforce these social injustices that rich and powerful private interests reify by expenditure in government and law enforcement,” Johnson wrote in the letter. “The reason why people have such hostile feelings toward the police is an understanding that they are not being mobilized to keep people safe but more so to protect ill-gotten private property and enforce a legal system that devours the poor, setting them up for continued exploitation.”
The Atlanta Public Safety Training Center, called “Cop City” by activists who oppose the project, is a planned multi-million dollar facility first announced in 2020 that will be used to prepare cadets and officers for active police work. Rioters allegedly used violent measures at least 255 times to halt construction of the project, including lighting police cars on fire and attempting to destroy construction equipment.
Surveillance video allegedly shows Johnson paying for the repairs on his SUV before grabbing another customer’s car keys from the front desk and dashing into the parking lot, according to the police report. The manager of the shop tried to stop Johnson but was unable to block him from taking the car onto the main road and speeding away.
Johnson was arrested on Sept. 29 and was charged with reckless driving, speeding, theft by taking, hit-and-run and “following too closely,” according to court documents. Johnson was released on bond shortly after his arrest.
Johnson did not immediately respond to the DCNF’s request for comment.
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