For any who need to catch-up, “Cop City” is a police training facility that the city government of Atlanta wants to build. The planned location is currently forested, but it used to be a prison plantation, and a dumping ground. The facility will include firing ranges, explosives training, a helicopter landing pad, and a mock city, all for cops to train in urban warfare and suppressing political demonstrations. The local community does not want this. Part of it is because they use the forest as a park, part is the importance of opposing deforestation, and part of it is not wanting a massive police training facility in their community. Even leaving aside the problems that police cause wherever they go, who wants the soundtrack of their home life to be gunfire and explosions?
Most of the city opposes this, as has been demonstrated every time there’s an opportunity for public comment. It seems like there will be an attempt to have city employees show up to speak in favor of the facility tomorrow, which seems fitting, since the only people who want this thing seem to be the mayors office, the cops, and the corporations helping to fund this. On that note – the supposed cost of this facility was originally slated at $90 million, with $30 million coming from Atlanta taxpayers, and $60 million from an assortment of corporations. It has now come out that the city will have to pay more than double what was originally announced, at $67 million, and I think it would be foolish to assume that that cost won’t keep rising. I guarantee there are better uses for that money.
But wait! It gets worse!
In addition to murdering a forest protector, the cops have arrested dozens of other activists on trumped up domestic terrorism charges. In response, the movement arranged a bail fund, so that people wouldn’t just be locked up prior to their trial. This is an entirely legal thing to do, despite the fact that cops and other conservatives don’t seem to like it. Apparently, however, the cops don’t care about whether it’s legal. They don’t like it when people stand up to them, and they want to keep the activists locked up, so they arrested the people organizing the bail fund, on charges of money laundering and charity fraud:
Under the direction of the Republican state attorney general, Christopher Carr, the Georgia Bureau of Investigation and the Atlanta Police Department carried out the arrests of Marlon Scott Kautz, Savannah Patterson, and Adele Maclean of the Atlanta Solidarity Fund (ASF).
The group offers financial support to people who have been arrested for protesting, including the dozens of people who have been detained for resisting the development of the Atlanta Public Safety Training Center, also known by critics as Cop City—a $90 million police training facility that would take up 85 acres of publicly-owned forest.
The three board members were charged with money laundering and charity fraud, leading state Rep. Saira Draper (D-90) to question the state’s use of SWAT teams and helicopters to conduct the raid in a residential neighborhood.
“Peaceful protest is as American as apple pie,” said Draper. “Using heavy handed tactics to suppress peaceful protest is shameful.”
Writer and historian William Horne denounced the arrests as “the behavior of a fascist police state.”
Lauren Regan, executive director of the Civil Liberties Defense Center, told The Intercept on Wednesday that the ASF is “the first bail fund to be attacked in this way.” The funds have been used for at least a century to pool together communities’ financial resources to help bail people, including civil rights protesters, out of jail.
“There is absolutely not a scintilla of fact or evidence that anything illegal has ever transpired with regard to Atlanta fundraising for bail support,” Regan said.
She added in a press statement that “bailing out protestors who exercise their constitutionally protected rights is simply not a crime.”
“In fact, it is a historically grounded tradition in the very same social and political movements that the city of Atlanta prides itself on,” she said. “Someone had to bail out civil rights activists in the 60’s—I think we can all agree that community support isn’t a crime.”
And yet, I can almost guarantee that the cops who decided to do this will not face any serious repercussions. Police abuse of power is one of the biggest reasons people oppose Cop City, and look how they respond. In 2020, when there were protests against police brutality, the cops amped up the brutality, even shooting out people’s eyes. Now, in response to a community wanting a say over how public resources are used, they’re flagrantly violating peoples’ rights.
If you’re in the Atlanta area, consider showing up to city hall tomorrow. If you’re further out, and you have the resources, you can help by supporting the Atlanta Solidarity Fund, by signing on to the statement of solidarity with the movement, and by doing what you can to raise public awareness of what’s going on in Atlanta. Even if people don’t care about that city or the people in it, they should understand that everything happening there will happen everywhere else in the US as well, if they’re allowed to get away with it. I keep saying that those in power will use violence to keep that power, and this is part of that process. They are setting up to make cops more dangerous to USians, and they are flagrantly abusing their power to make sure that this goes through, no matter what the people of Atlanta want.
This is part of the climate fight, and it’s a battle we can ill afford to lose. A facility like Cop City is designed to make cops better at crushing movements for change, and in case you hadn’t noticed, we urgently need movements for change. Look into the issue if you haven’t, and try to find at least some way to help out. If you can’t do anything tomorrow, but you want to do something, there’s a week of action from June 24th to July 1st, and I believe actions outside of Atlanta, like demonstrations, are welcome as part of that. If you have questions, ask in the comments, and I’ll do what I can to provide answers.