(Atlanta, Georgia) Over the weekend, communities in Atlanta have been rising up as part of a week-long mobilization to “Stop Cop City.” “Cop City” is a $90 million, 85-acre urban warfare facility to “train” police forces across the country. In 2021, The Atlanta Police Foundation — a private entity — received governmental clearance to begin destroying Weelaunee Forest to build “Cop City” over the objections of local residents. Black community members and allies have pointed out that this facility further trains police to kill, and would increase cases of police brutality against Black and communities of color, all the while destroying the largest urban forest canopy in the United States. After exhausting legal channels to stop the facility, organizers moved into the forest, occupying trees and slowing down construction.
In January, police killed forest defender Manuel Esteban Paez Terán, known as Tortuguita, and police have continued to treat activists with brutality, leading to over 35 arrests this weekend during the kickoff of the Stop Cop City week of action.
Last week, climate activists from 350.org, local chapters from Portland, Connecticut, and New Hampshire, and Honor the Earth joined up as part of a delegation to learn from on-the-ground organizers about their work to stop Cop City and defend the Weelaunee Forest.
Thanu Yakupitiyage, 350.org’s US Communications-Digital Director, responded:
“We stand with the organizers and communities working to #StopCopCity, Atlanta Forest Defenders, and partners on the ground. This weekend, only a day into the Stop Cop City week of action, police responded in characteristically over-militarized fashion to protests within the Weelaunee Forest, including stopping a peaceful music festival. They arrested at least 35 people, including a legal observer, and have charged at least 23 people with domestic terrorism. As we see all too often, the media is largely depicting the activists as ‘violent insurgents’ with little mention of the state-based violence that has caused so much pain and suffering, and now threatens one the most natural defenses against climate change that the people of Atlanta have. Our movement must stand up for intersectional justice. What is happening in Atlanta is a clear example of where climate meets racial justice; a reminder that our fight to protect land, water, and our climate is inherently connected to the right for all people to thrive free of state violence.”
Press Contact: Melanie Smith, [email protected]