In the upcoming weeks, The ARD will continue our coverage of Stop Cop City, one of the most crucial social justice fights underway in the U.S. Hundreds of acres of urban forest next to a working-class Black neighborhood in Atlanta, Georgia, are slated to be clear-cut for the construction of a law enforcement training facility. If built, “Cop City” would produce water pollution while destroying the city’s largest remaining contiguous green space. The residents surrounding the site would be unable to escape the sounds of grenades, bombs, and police helicopters. And Cop City would be used to train law enforcement officers from around the country and the world to execute military raids and police brutality in oppressed communities.
Cop City has received support from Atlanta’s political class as well as from many profitable and powerful institutions, like Home Depot, Bank of America, Delta Airlines, and Chick-fil-a. Yet, Atlanta residents overwhelmingly oppose the project, and community members have vowed not to back down without a guaranteed termination of Cop City. For two years, activists have physically put their bodies on the line by living in the forest to stop construction, facing political repression and police violence. “The escalation is coming definitively from local police departments at the whim of the corporate backers,” Paul, one of the forest defenders, told The ARD back in 2022.
• Come to Atlanta March 4-11. Bring a tent. Follow @defendatlantaforest for more information.
• Donate to Community Movement Builders (@communitymovementbuilders).
• Sign the petition to oppose subsidized housing for Atlanta police officers in a working-class Black neighborhood.
• Call Georgia State University professor Deepak Raghavan at (404) 413 6044 and demand he resign from the Atlanta Police Foundation Executive Board. His email is Raghavan@astro.gsu.edu.
• Contact GSU Astronomy Department Chair Sebastien Lepine at (404) 413 6020 and Provost Nicolle Parsons-Pollard at (404) 413 2688 to express your opposition to Dr. Raghavan’s active support of the Cop City urban warfare training center.
• Donate to the Atlanta Solidarity Fund (@atlsolfund) to fight political repression and support incarcerated activists.
Because of the widespread public disapproval of the project, the government has resorted to sheer violence to force the project through. In January, the police murdered forest defender Manuel Paez Terán, known as Tortuguita. A nonbinary Venezuelan immigrant, Tortuguita was a labor and housing organizer who moved to the forest to stop the very police brutality that took their life (Them). If Tortuguita’s death were to stop the movement against Cop City, it would tell the government that murdering nonviolent protesters not only has no consequences but is an easy way to stifle dissent.
This week commences a national week of action against the contractors that are building Cop City and the corporations that are funding it. Search for an action in your area, promote it within your community, and attend and make connections with other people fighting against environmental racism and police murders. Even if you’re unable to find or attend local efforts, Atlanta activists are imploring all of us to make phone calls to pressure those directing Cop City’s construction. The Atlanta Solidarity Fund is in desperate need of funds to help protestors charged with domestic terrorism and other draconian, politically motivated charges. Community Movement Builders is also fundraising to support liberation programs, political education, and community organizing in working-class Black Atlanta neighborhoods.
Activists are also urging supporters to travel to Atlanta from March 4-11 to physically demonstrate against Cop City. Though not everyone has the capacity to go, those who do should strongly consider it. Cop City would increase the brutalization of communities of color for generations to come. We have an opportunity to stop it in its tracks. It is also an opportunity to build community with people from around the world who, despite our differences, are united to preserve the lands, reimagine policing and protect the peace of local communities.
“I think everybody should be coming through in March to stop this Cop City project in its tracks. This is a state of emergency,” Raffi from Community Movement Builders told The ARD. “We need all hands on deck to resist this project to the fullest capacity because it cannot go through because it means death and displacement for Africans within Atlanta.” In the coming weeks, we will also feature the testimony of Dr. Jacqueline Echols of the South River Watershed Alliance and Talia Rouser of Georgia State University’s Sankofa Society, both activists in the fight to #StopCopCity.
U.S. residents occasionally engage in the pastime of imagining the heroics we’d have performed in the now-acclaimed social justice movements in the past. We envision ourselves marching across the Edmund Pettus Bridge with Martin Luther King, Jr. or rallying against the injustices of the Vietnam War, content in the belief that if we were to find ourselves with the opportunity to intervene in the struggle for freedom and dignity at a crucial juncture, we would surely do what was needed. The summer of 2020 was one such crucial juncture. The fight against Cop City is another one. Those able to go to Atlanta for the week of action should go. We can all support the struggle, no matter where we are.