Police vs Atlanta and the rest of us

The proposed construction of “Cop City”, an 85-acre, $90 million dollar project to build a police training facility in the South River Forest in Atlanta, is a prime example of so many injustices.

  • Land theft from the Muskogee people
  • Forced displacement of the Muskogee, the “Trail of Tears”
  • Enslavement of people of color
  • Once a prison with a history of abuse
  • Environmental injustice
  • Attempted corruption of city council members
  • Killing Manuel Teran (Tortuguita)
  • Charges of terrorism against people protesting the training center, and the death of Tortuguita

And these concerns are not limited to Atlanta, or Georgia. The plan is to train police there from all over the country.

FULTON COUNTY, Ga. — Groups who oppose the construction of Atlanta’s future public safety training facility are asking the courts to block construction at the site until the appeal against its land disturbance permit is sorted out. 

In Monday’s complaint, individuals said that despite an appeal against its permit, the Atlanta Police Foundation — who is the main funder of the project — is still clearing land at the planned site of the future training facility. The site has been the epicenter of a more than yearlong protest movement that refers to the area as “Cop City.”

Those who oppose the facility said the appeal should mean that the foundation must stop all construction or clearing of the site until the zoning board reaches a decision — but the foundation has continued business as usual.

Complaint filed to stop construction at Atlanta Public Safety Training Center amid permit appeal, Documents allege crews are still working on the land when they shouldn’t be by Gabrielle Nunex, 11Alive News, Feb 15, 2023

This video from Al Jazeera explains the many problems related to the proposed “Cop City” project in Atlanta.

From the transcript:

I’m not sure they’re trying to force us out of the community and just take over the whole Community overall but that’s what it looked like. The path we headed down to Atlanta’s proposal to construct the police facility here speaks to the land’s painful history.

The site was a prison farm until 1995. Prisoners there were subjected to harsh punishments and slave conditions including poor sanitation nutrition and overcrowding. Some critics say claims of unmarked graves have not yet been properly investigated.

Before that the land is thought to have been a plantation that enslaved at least 19 people. It was originally stolen from the Muskogee who lived there until the U.S government forcefully displaced them to Oklahoma. Today both activists and tribal members have reclaimed the indigenous name as Weelaunee People’s Park. Local Advocates have long called for the area to be preserved as a historical site. They just can’t wait, they cannot wait, they just want to go in and bulldoze everything and then write the history the way they want. They haven’t even done proper you know, ecological surveys yet. But Cop City isn’t the only facility that the residents have opposed. Around the forest is a Hollywood studio, sanitation Center, juvenile prison and asphalt and trucking factories, and KIRO landfill. Nobody wants to address the environmental Injustice of this. Those issues have never been vetted. The facilities have severely polluted Muscogee Creek which flows downstream to the South River.

History of the Land

Until the 1830s, the Weelaunee Forest — now called the South River Forest, located southeast of Atlanta — was occupied by the Muscogee people. The Muscogee were known as the first tribe to become “civilized” through George Washington’s civilization plan, a six-step plan to disrupt Native culture, occupy native land, and teach Indigenous people how to live like white settlers. 

The Muscogee were forcefully removed from the forest in the 1830s through the “Trail of Tears,” a decades-long movement to forcibly remove Indigenous people from their homelands, resulting in thousands of deaths. Following their removal, the land was purchased by plantation owner Lochlin Johnson. During the Civil War, it was the site of the Battle of Atlanta.

In 1918, 1,250 acres of the forest were bought by the Bureau of Prisons and United States Federal Penitentiary in Atlanta for $160,000. Until the early 1990s, the land was used as a prison farm.

Atlanta Is Starting Construction of ‘Cop City.’ Here’s What You Need to Know. We take a deep dive on the history of the land, the environmental and political implications, and the growing movement against the facility by Adam Mahoney, Madeline Thigpen, and Adam Mahoney, Capital B News, Feb 9, 2023

This is a link to posts I’ve written about “Cop City”. https://quakersandreligioussocialism.com/?s=%22cop+city%22

On January 31st, we had a solidarity action in Des Moines related to “Cop City” and the killing of Tortuguita. We visited the local office of Cushman and Wakefield. They are a global corporation and John O’Neill is the President of U.S. Multifamily Capital Markets of the global firm. We asked the president at the local office to contact him to cut ties with the Atlanta Police Foundation. He confirmed that he did, for what it’s worth.

Following are some of the photos I took at our action that morning.

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