Atlanta land defenders charged with “domestic terrorism”

Back in May, I wrote a little about the movement to defend the Atlanta Forest. This is a grassroots effort to stop a section of forest to make a fake city for police training. From what I can tell, a facility like that is generally used for tactical training – group exercises that amount to training to wage war on everyday people. In my view, this would be a bad use of even a reclaimed landfill, let alone land that is currently a forest.

The struggle is ongoing, and of course it’s one-sided. Fighting back against the police would allow them to escalate through their bloated armory, so all the people can do is put their bodies in the gears of the machine, to try to stop it from rolling over the forest. They’re camping out in the trees, because that makes it less likely for the trees to be cut down. For this, they have been called terrorists:

Five people arrested at the planned site of Atlanta’s new public safety training center have been charged with domestic terrorism, the Georgia Bureau of Investigation announced Wednesday.

What’s happening: State and local law enforcement clashed Tuesday with protesters occupying the DeKalb County forest where Atlanta wants to build a public safety training center.

Why it matters: The confrontation is the latest in the long-running occupation aimed at blocking the Atlanta Police Foundation’s proposed complex, which activists have dubbed “Cop City.”

Details: Accounts differ as to what took place in the deep woods off Key Road in unincorporated DeKalb County. Sean Wolters, a media contact for the resistance effort, told Axios that as of 10:30am activists camping in trees were being hit with tear gas and pepper balls.

  • The Atlanta Community Press Collective, a news outlet supportive of the resistance effort, posted a video apparently shot by one of the activists and reported police firing “chemical irritants” in their direction.

An Atlanta police spokesperson said officers and “local, state, and task force members removed barricades blocking some of the entrances to the training center.” He provided no additional information.

  • Alison Clark, a local resident who leads a group advising the center’s development, told the AJC the activists shot fireworks at first responders and then law enforcement entered the property.
  • Wolters denied this account to Axios, saying an apparent operation by APD to remove people from the trees sparked the clash.

As the Axios article notes, this situation is unlikely to be resolved any time soon. I write often about how ecosystem health is key to our survival, and we’re still very much in a system that doesn’t even see it as a factor to consider. If someone with money and power wants to clear-cut an area for pointless, or even harmful reasons, the question asked is whether they have ownership of that bit of land. The only time there’s a delay on it is if there’s a protected species there (which became protected because of political activism), or there are people there, standing in the way.

I support the effort to stop “cop city”, but I fear that there will be more violence from the police; at the end of the day, violence is their main point. Even so, these confrontations are necessary if we want real change, and I think this highlights how the priorities of our society must be changed, or we’ll be carried to destruction by the momentum of the systems we currently have.

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  1. sonofrojblake says

    Accounts differ as to what took place in the deep woods

    It’s 2022. It’s inconceivable that nobody on either side has any video footage of what went down, unless one or both sides was negligent.

  2. says

    Possibly. It may be difficult to capture the presence of chemical irritants on video, and obviously we can’t trust cops to record or report anything honestly.

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