People hold two large, cloth signs that read, "We will win," and "Cop city will never be built."

Why Political Repression is Key to Cop City Project

In early June, Atlanta residents gave hours of unanimous testimony against Cop City before the City Council voted to fund the project regardless. The city will pay almost twice as much for the proposed law enforcement training center as initially reported: $68 million over 30 years (The Intercept). Despite the vote, Cop City must be stopped. It would decimate the environment for the entire Atlanta metro area. It would train police departments nationwide in paramilitary tactics to use against protesters and marginalized communities. That’s why activists and community members are currently gathered in Atlanta for another week of action against Cop City. Increased police brutality isn’t an abstract, hypothetical threat. Though the project hasn’t even begun, Cop City is inspiring outrageous police and political repression today. 


Take 10 minutes to make calls and send emails opposing Cop City. 

Take action against Cop City investors locally.

• Support the Atlanta Solidarity Fund and Community Movement Builders

The ARD reported on a massive interagency police raid on a forest protest encampment in December 2022. The following month, the police reentered the forest and murdered Manuel Esteban Paez Terán, also known as Tortuguita (The Guardian). When supporters from around the world went to Atlanta for a week of action in March, dozens were arrested and charged with domestic terrorism (The Guardian). The unjustly incarcerated protesters were among the many people supported by the Atlanta Solidarity Fund, a local bail fund. 

Most people charged with crimes are eligible for release before trial if they pay bail. About two-thirds of the people in jail are incarcerated for simply being poor and lacking resources (Marshall Project). Bail funds like the Atlanta Solidarity Fund bail people out so they can return to their communities before trial. Because of the massive protests, vicious political repression, and widespread reappraisal of the injustice system during the summer of 2020, tens of millions of dollars were donated to bail funds around the United States (The ConversationInsider). 

May 31, 2023, marked the first-ever arrest of bail fund organizers in U.S. history. Three members of the Atlanta Solidarity Fund were raided by a SWAT team. They allegedly committed “money laundering” by spending money on gasoline, COVID tests, forest clean-up, and yard signs (The Intercept). Georgia Governor Brian Kemp described the arrested legal aid volunteers as “criminals” who “facilitated and encouraged domestic terrorism.” He then vowed to “track down” every “violent foot soldier” and “uncaring leader” of the decentralized, leaderless, and diverse Stop Cop City movement (Twitter/@GovKemp) fighting against police violence, racial injustice, and ecological devastation.

The arrest of the bail fund organizers is an unprecedented form of political repression. If attacks like this are allowed, any bail fund or legal aid organization in the country could be dismantled as a “criminal organization” because of the alleged actions of their clients. The Atlanta Solidarity Fund continues to support incarcerated activists despite the efforts of the state of Georgia to hamper their crucial work. 

“They are trying to drain our morale and trying to drain our resources. These arrests send a message that if you run a nonprofit that they find to be at odds with their colonial project, they will target you,” said another Atlanta Solidarity Fund volunteer (The Intercept). 

Some protesters in Atlanta have witnessed lethal violence. Others may face decades of confinement. The city has watched its political representatives vote to spend tens of millions of public funds on a repugnant project with overwhelming opposition. The city that hosts the King Center and the Martin Luther King, Jr. Historic Site is slandering activists from outside the Atlanta area as “outside agitators,” though Dr. King wrote, “Never again can we afford to live with the narrow, provincial “outside agitator” idea (Letter from Jail). And the communities most directly affected remain insistent that Cop City must never be built. That’s why ongoing organizing during this week of action (from June 24 to July 1) and beyond is so crucial. The project’s contractors and corporate funders have locations across the United States. With enough popular pressure, they will be forced to cancel Cop City. This is how we support the people of Atlanta and honor those who continue to sacrifice their life and freedom to defend the Atlanta forest.


• This is a week of action against the Cop City development proposed for the Atlanta forest. 

• Bail fund organizers are among those accused of “terrorism” and facing political repression. 

• Activists are pressuring Cop City investors and developers to cancel the project. 

2078 1442 Andrew Lee

Andrew Lee

Andrew Lee is a writer and organizer plotting a better world in Philadelphia. His work has previously appeared in Notes From Below, Perspectives on Anarchist Theory, Plan A Magazine, ROAR Magazine, and Teen Vogue.

All stories by : Andrew Lee
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