In Solidarity with Atlanta’s Forest Defenders

I’ve heard of tree sitting as a form of civil disobedience/protest for many years and admire those who do that. The Atlanta Defend the Forest movement of this story is also directly related to abolition and defunding the police. The Atlanta Police Foundation wants to destroy the forest in order to construct a national police training facility.

This article is a moving remembrance to the police killing of Tortuguita.

Little Turtles’s War. The shooting death of a protestor at the hands of police feels like both an inevitable outcome of this long battle over Atlanta’s South River Forest and a completely preventable tragedy by David Peisner, The Bitter Southerner, January 20, 2023
https://bittersoutherner.com/feature/2023/little-turtles-war-cop-city-atlanta


“We call on all people of good conscience to stand in solidarity with the movement to stop Cop City and defend the Weelaunee Forest in Atlanta.”

Defend the Altanta Forest

DEFEND THE ATLANTA FOREST
an autonomous movement for the future of South Atlanta

https://defendtheatlantaforest.org/


Rising Tide Statement on Tortuguita’s Murder: In Solidarity with Atlanta’s Forest Defenders

JANUARY 21, 2023ANNOUNCEMENTSFEATURED NEWSFRONTRT NEWSWIRERT PRESS RELEASES

Rising Tide North America statement on the murder of Tortuguita by the police in Atlanta, Georgia:

“The news has spread around the country and around the world. On the morning of January 18, police began an attack on the Weelaunee Forest in south Atlanta. In this assault, they shot and killed Cami Teran, known by friends in the movement to defend the forest as Tortuguita.

Tortuguita, remembered by many as “fierce and loving,” was a Black and Indigenous anarchist. Their life was spent seeking a world without prisons and without police where people could care for each other and be in relationship with the natural world. This moving rememberance shares just a small part of their spirit and their story.

The Atlanta Police Foundation wants to clear hundreds of acres of forest to build a massive training facility that would include a mock city and be a site for police forces from across the country to come train in urban warfare.  Tortuguita was part of the movement to protect the Atlanta forest and stop this project.  The movement is centered in Atlanta and includes community groups, forest defenders, lawyers, activists fighting gentrification, racism, and police brutality, and neighbors of the forest. But the movement is not only in Atlanta. Everywhere that police oppress indigenous people to protect pipelines, everywhere that forests are cleared, everywhere that profit and control are valued more than life, this movement resonates. The struggle in Atlanta is all of our struggle.

You can learn more about this movement and how communities in Atlanta and around the country are responding in recent reports from Democracy Now and Rolling Stone. Police would like to blame their brutality on Tortuguita and their fellow forest defenders. There must be an independent investigation of Tortuguita’s murder.

Our hearts are filled with love, sorrow, and rage in solidarity with all those grieving their death.

If you are moved to gather or act in Tortuguita’s memory, vigils are planned in many towns and cities through the weekend. If there is nothing planned near you, organize something with your friends and invite your communities. Support the people arrested in the raid. The outpouring of love and solidarity feeds those grieving and gathering in Atlanta as they care for each other in coming days and weeks.

Here are some other ways to support the movement from the statement in Solidarity with the movement to stop Cop City & defend the Weelaunee Forest, endorsed by RTNA:

  • Donate to the Atlanta Solidarity Fund to support legal costs for arrested protestors and ongoing legal action.
  • Call on investors in the project to divest from Cop City (list of APF investors). Call on builders of the project to drop their construction contracts.
  • Organize political solidarity bail funds, forest defense funds, and forest defense committees where you live.
  • Organize or participate in local solidarity actions.
  • Endorse and circulate this statement of solidarity.”

https://risingtidenorthamerica.org/2023/01/in-solidarity-with-atlantas-forest-defenders-rising-tide-statement-on-tortuguitas-murder/


On January 18, in the course of their latest militarized raid on the forest, police in Atlanta shot and killed a person. This is only the most recent of a series of violent police retaliations against the movement. The official narrative is that Cop City is necessary to make Atlanta “safe,” but this brutal killing reveals what they mean when they use that word.

Forests are the lungs of planet Earth. The destruction of forests affects all of us. So do the gentrification and police violence that the bulldozing of Weelaunee Forest would facilitate. What is happening in Atlanta is not a local issue.

Politicians who support Cop City have attempted to discredit forest defenders as “outside agitators.” This smear has a disgraceful history in the South, where authorities have used it against abolitionists, labor organizers, and the Civil Rights Movement, among others. The goal of those who spread this narrative is to discourage solidarity and isolate communities from each other while offering a pretext to bring in state and federal forces, who are the actual “outside agitators.” The consequence of that strategy is on full display in the tragedy of January 18.

Replacing a forest with a police training center will only create a more violently policed society, in which taxpayer resources enrich police and weapons companies rather than addressing social needs. Mass incarceration and police militarization have failed to bring down crime or improve conditions for poor and working-class communities.

In Atlanta and across the US, investment in police budgets comes at the expense of access to food, education, childcare, and healthcare, of affordable and stable housing, of parks and public spaces, of transit and the free movement of people, of economic stability for the many. Concentrating resources in the hands of police serves to defend the extreme accumulation of wealth and power by corporations and the very rich.

What do cops do with their increased budgets and their carte blanche from politicians? They kill people, every single day. They incarcerate and traumatize schoolchildren, parents, loved ones who are simply struggling to survive. We must not settle for a society organized recklessly upon the values of violence, racism, greed, and careless indifference to life.

The struggle that is playing out in Atlanta is a contest for the future. As the catastrophic effects of climate change hammer our communities with hurricanes, heat waves, and forest fires, the stakes of this contest are clearer than ever. It will determine whether those who come after us inherit an inhabitable Earth or a police state nightmare. It is up to us to create a peaceful society that does not treat human life as expendable.

The forest defenders are trying to create a better world for all of us. We owe it to the people of Atlanta and to future generations everywhere to support them.

Here are some ways to support the defense of the forest in Atlanta:

  • Donate to the Atlanta Solidarity Fund to support legal costs for arrested protestors and ongoing legal action.
  • Call on investors in the project to divest from Cop City (list of APF investors). Call on builders of the project to drop their construction contracts.
  • Organize political solidarity bail funds, forest defense funds, and forest defense committees where you live.
  • Participate in or organize local solidarity actions.
  • Endorse and circulate this statement of solidarity. Email defendweelaunee@riseup.net.

https://defendtheatlantaforest.org/solidarity/


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