Report on recent solidarity demonstration in Atlanta with the movement to Stop Cop City. Originally posted to Defend the Atlanta Forest.
On Monday, March 6th, a group of elders and a young person in support visited the corporate offices of Brasfield & Gorrie, as well as five B&G worksites around Atlanta, to call on the company to Drop Cop City. It is currently the general contractor on the project, officially known as the Atlanta Public Safety Training Center.
At each site, they held banners for the workers and passersby to see, and tried to talk to the construction manager in charge. At one site, after speaking with and handling flyers to dozens of workers from many countries, the manager appeared and threatened to have us arrested. At the final site, on Peachtree Street at Pershing Point Park, the elders held banners in the intersection while the light was red, passing out more flyers and getting honks of support from many.
They found that many Atlantans did not know about Cop City and were glad to learn about it but sad that it exists.
Background: The Atlanta Police Foundation, supported and funded by major corporations such as Target, Home Depot, and Coca-Cola, has contracted with B&G to build the largest police training facility in the U.S., creating an environmental disaster for Atlanta. The facility will destroy at least 85 acres of trees in the Weelaunee (South Atlanta) Forest watershed adjacent to a residential neighborhood to train police forces from around the country and the world. Plans include shooting ranges, roads for high-speed chases, a mock city to practice urban warfare, explosives detonations and a Black Hawk helicopter landing pad.
Our group of elders – the Rocking Chair Rebellion – joins with local residents and the mostly young people who occupied the forest to oppose the project. It was approved over the objections of 70% of those who testified at a 17-hour public hearing. We are visiting other B&G construction sites to call on the company to DROP COP CITY from its clientele.
What’s Wrong with Cop City?
It would increase the use of militarized policing of the already overpoliced Black and brown neighborhoods adjacent to the site
It would destroy thousands of trees, which are badly needed to reduce the flooding that already occurs in local communities, to clean the air where residents already suffer from high asthma rates, and to reduce the urban heat island effect.
Cop City would exacerbate climate change, and greatly increase noise and particulate pollution.
Nature has its own right to exist, and provides beauty and tranquility for humans and other living things.
The City of Atlanta could find much better uses for the $30 million it has promised toward building this $90 million facility, like funding non-police responses to improve security and improving health care for its most at-risk residents.
Visit www.defendtheatlantaforest.org to learn more and to see how you can help.
Quotes from participants:
Steve Norris, 79, former adjunct professor of nonviolence, Warren Wilson College, Asheville, NC, said “This is one of the most important struggles going on in the world right now – for environmental, racial and social justice. That’s why I’m here.”
Rose Abramoff, 35, Knoxville, TN, earth scientist said, “I am here to support the youth and elders who are putting their bodies in the way of 85 acres of mature forest slated for destruction. Indigenous land, Black lives, Earth’s future are all at stake. We must save this forest and Stop Cop City.”
Andy Hinz, 62, of Baltimore, MD, said, “We can either rise up against fascism now and lift ourselves up by fighting for life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness for EVERY living being on this planet or Cop City will kill each and everyone of us if we don’t stop it because those sick with greed and privilege will never be satisfied.”
Deborah Kushner, 68, Staunton, VA, said, “The struggle in Atlanta is emblematic of the worst ills that plague our society: classism, racism, environmental justice, a disregard for nature, corporate rule and militarism. And now, murder of the innocent. This utter disregard for humanity and the natural world is repulsive.”
Melinda Tuhus, 75, New Haven, CT, said, “The fight against Cop City is the epitome of intersectionality: it brings together the fight for Black lives and against the militarization of the police; the fight for clean air and water, especially for communities suffering from the lack of both; and for the protection of a forest that has a right to exist for its own sake, and which helps absorb carbon dioxide and protect the planet.”