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Activists and other social justice groups have begun a planned “week of action” to protest the construction of a project known as “Cop City” outside of Atlanta, Georgia.According to reports, multiple activists and environmental and social justice groups from across the United States have initiated a week of protest actions against the building of a training center complex for law enforcement in a forest area south-east of Atlanta which has been dubbed “Cop City”.
The planned actions come a little less than two months after the death of Manuel Paez Terán, an activist known as “Tortuguita”. Terán was shot and killed by a Georgia State Trooper on January 18th in the midst of a violent raid by a combined force of state troopers, officers from Dekalb County & Atlanta, and the Georgia Bureau of Investigation on a protest encampment in the South Forest area.
Protesters are seeking to block the construction of the militarization and training complex which was launched by the Atlanta Police Foundation. With an estimated price tag of $85 to $90 million, the site would be the largest of its kind in the nation once completed. Many have complained about the environmental impact, as the entire forest is slated to be razed for the project. The planned week of action will include a march among other protests. “The idea is to have a march with Black-led groups, centered in Atlanta history, and the protest movements we’ve always been a part of,” said Community Movement Builders leader Kamal Franklin. A “National Day of Action Against Police Terror” is slated for this coming Thursday (March 9th), with a music festival and a “know your rights workshop” also included in the actions.
These initiatives by protesters are meant to quash the narrative promoted by Georgia Governor Brian Kemp and Atlanta Mayor Andre Dickens that the protests have been dominated by outside agitators bent on violence. On Sunday (March 5th), 35 people were detained by police at the site after a construction vehicle was set ablaze and rocks were being hurled at officers as a protest was taking place. Franklin said to CNN afterward that the arrests were “indiscriminate”, and didn’t represent the majority of those protesting who are from the Atlanta area. “These are big-tent protests. We don’t expect incidents beyond standard civil disobedience. We hope the police will act accordingly and not in violent ways that exacerbate the situation,” he stated.