Multiple Strategies

Yesterday was another episode in the saga of not only carbon pipelines but Indigenous rights more broadly.

There is increasing pressure from many places to use the idea of carbon capture and storage to meet the goals of reducing greenhouse gas emissions. The Biden administration is supporting this unproven technology, which even if it worked would not impact global greenhouse gas concentrations. This is something I’ve written about extensively.
(See: )


Yesterday and today public meetings are being held in Des Moines by the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration’s (PHMSA) Technical Safety Panel (See: )

Carbon dioxide (CO2) pipelines are classified as carrying hazardous materials because they pose significant safety risks in case of a rupture. CO2 is a colorless, odorless gas that can displace oxygen and cause asphyxiation at high concentrations. It can also travel long distances from the pipeline after a leak, creating a large danger zone for people and animals. According to the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA), CO2 pipelines require special safety measures such as corrosion control, leak detection, emergency response plans, and public awareness programs.

There is environmental racism in building pipelines and storage facilities near Indigenous lands. This occurred when the route of the Dakota Access Pipeline was moved away from Bismark, to Standing Rock, when Bismark residents feared contamination of their water.

This environmental racism also facilitates the epidemic of Missing and Murdered Indigenous Relatives because of the “man camps” of pipeline/storage construction workers.

Now there is a similar situation, where landowners, developers, and politicians in Bismark are opposing a proposed carbon dioxide storage project near them.

Not in my backyard

They are showing up in earnest in opposition to the Midwest Carbon Express pipeline, a plan of Summit Carbon Solutions to gather up 12 million tons of CO2 from 31 ethanol plants in five states and send it through pipelines to be sequestered at an underground storage facility in western North Dakota.

The project is well underway, but an apparently well-funded and vocal group of folks, many of them who no doubt appreciate the jobs and tax revenues provided by fossil fuels, are fighting the proposed pipeline tooth and nail.

To be fair, these developers, home builders, politicians and homeowners don’t seem to oppose the pipeline in general, they just don’t want it to be close to places where they live or where they might enrich their businesses with new housing development and construction.

In other words, they don’t mind if the pipeline impacts someone else, they just don’t want it to impact them.

Speaking out: Liking the upside means accepting the downside by Steve Andrist, The Bismark Tribune, 5/31/2023

Great Plains Action Society

My friends at the Great Plains Action Society continue to teach us about Indigenous views and rights. My friend Sikowis Nobiss worked to have a panel discussion related to Indigenous peoples as part of this PHMSA gathering. You can hear her, and others’ remarks here:

Sikowis spoke about most tribal nations not being consulted about these pipelines.

And spoke about the safety equipment that is required for first responders wherever the pipeline is built. Such as oxygen supplies and electric vehicles. Leaked carbon dioxide can spread quickly and stays near the ground, potentially causing asphyxia. Sikowis asks, where is the money going to come from for tribal nations to purchase such safety equipment?

She also spoke about the biome below ground and how we don’t know how pipelines and carbon storage affect that.

Sikowis concluded by pointing out how these are unproven technologies. And asks for a moratorium on these projects until more research is done.

Our Executive Director, Sikowis Nobiss, is speaking today on the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration’s (PHMSA) Technical Safety Panel regarding safety concerns in light of several proposed projects slated for Iowa and the Great Plains region after a recent incident in 2021 at Satartia, Mississippi. Earlier this year PHMSA has stated updated safety regulations tailored specifically for carbon dioxide pipelines are needed and will take 1-3 years to establish—the same timeframe these proposed projects aim for completion.

As such, we call for a federal moratorium until regulations are complete and moreover don’t believe they should be actualized at all! Rather, re-Matriation of Prairie can safely, effectively and efficiently sequester carbon dioxide just as good or better than any of these techno-solutions.

(See video here:


Multiple Strategies

It was very important that Sikowis was able to speak during the PHMSA meeting.

We had also planned to hold a rally outside the Marriott Hotel the meetings were held at. Unfortunately our efforts were thwarted by police who were working for the hotel. So we gathered across the street with our signs, and people spoke about these issues.

Carbon pipeline safety meeting

Public meetings about carbon pipeline safety are being held today and tomorrow in Des Moines. These meetings are sponsored by the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA). (See: ).

CO2 Safety Public Meeting 2023

This public public meeting and forum on carbon dioxide (CO2) pipeline safety is entitled: “CO2 Public Meeting 2023.” The public meeting will serve as an opportunity for pipeline stakeholders to help inform pipeline safety-related rulemaking decisions and share information surrounding CO2 pipeline safety. Key stakeholders include the public, states, tribal governments, other federal agencies, industry, and international regulators and/or organizations. Key topics are expected to include:

  • Safety expectations for pipeline operators.
  • General state of CO2 pipeline infrastructure – current mileage and forecasts.
  • Federal and state jurisdictions and authorities.
  • Public awareness, engagement, and emergency notification.
  • Emergency equipment, training, and response.
  • Dispersion modeling.
  • Safety measures to address other constituents besides CO2 in CO2 pipelines.
  • Leak detection and reporting.
  • Geohazards.
  • Conversion to service.
  • Environmental justice

CO2 Safety Public Meeting 2023

Satartia, Mississippi

February 22, 2020, a carbon capture pipeline ruptured in Satartia, Mississippi, which brought attention to the multiple hazards of carbon pipeline ruptures.

Just after 7pm on February 22, 2020, a carbon capture pipeline ruptured in Satartia, Mississippi. Shortly after a greenish cloud settled into the valley surrounding the little town. Within minutes, people were inside the cloud, gasping for air, nauseated, and dazed. What follows are firsthand accounts of the victims and first responders.

PHMSA Announces New Safety Measures to Protect Americans From Carbon Dioxide Pipeline Failures After Satartia, MS Leak

WASHINGTON – The U.S. Department of Transportation’s Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) today announced it is taking steps to implement new measures to strengthen its safety oversight of carbon dioxide (CO2) pipelines around the country and protect communities from dangerous pipeline failures. The new measures, as well as an enforcement action taken today are a result of PHMSA’s investigation into a CO2 pipeline failure in Satartia, Mississippi in 2020 that resulted in local evacuations and caused almost 50 people to seek medical attention. 

 To strengthen CO2 pipeline safety, PHMSA is undertaking the following:

  • initiating a new rulemaking to update standards for CO2 pipelines, including requirements related to emergency preparedness, and response;
  • issuing a Notice of Probable Violation, Proposed Civil Penalty, and Proposed Compliance Order (NOPV) to Denbury Gulf Coast Pipeline, LLC for multiple probable violations of Federal pipeline safety regulations (PSRs). The proposed civil penalties amount to $3,866,734.  
  • completing a failure investigation report for the 2020 pipeline failure in Satartia, Mississippi;
  • issuing an updated nationwide advisory bulletin to all pipeline operators underscoring the need to plan for and mitigate risks related to land-movements and geohazards that pose risks to pipeline integrity like the 2020 incident in Satartia, Mississippi; and
  • conducting research solicitations to strengthen pipeline safety of CO2 pipelines.

“I recently visited with the first responders in Satartia to hear firsthand of the pipeline failure so that we can improve safety and environmental protections for CO2 pipelines and work to protect communities from experiences like this,” said PHMSA Deputy Administrator Tristan Brown. “The safety of the American people is paramount and we’re taking action to strengthen CO2 pipeline safety standards to better protect communities, our first responders, and our environment.” 

PHMSA’s investigation identified a number of probable violations in connection with the 2020 accident, including the following alleged failures: 

  • the lack of timely notification to the National Response Center to ensure the nearby communities were informed of the threat; 
  • the absence of written procedures for conducting normal operations, as well as those that would allow the operator to appropriately respond to emergencies, such as guidelines for communicating with emergency responders; and 
  • a failure to conduct routine inspections of its rights-of-way, which would have fostered a better understanding of the environmental conditions surrounding its facilities that could pose a threat to the safe operation of the pipeline.

PHMSA Announces New Safety Measures to Protect Americans From Carbon Dioxide Pipeline Failures After Satartia, MS Leak. Thursday, May 26, 2022

Although carbon capture and storage is a false solution to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, there is tremendous pressure from many sources to build these systems so companies can claim they are meeting requirements to reduce emissions.

Great Plains Action Society’s Statement on C02 Pipelines

Great Plains Action Society is firmly opposed to proposed carbon capture and sequestration or storage (CCS) projects (aka, CO2 Pipelines) such as Summit’s Midwest Carbon Express, Navigator’s Heartland Greenway, and Wolf Carbon Solutions’ ADM pipelines. The reasons for our opposition are numerous, however, our greatest concern is that CCS only serves the interests of the fossil fuel industry and that the government will sanction further land theft and harm to communities on Indigenous territories. Carbon capture and sequestration is by design a way to prolong the usage of fossil fuels while reducing CO2 emissions. Amidst this climate emergency, we must demand a reduction and phase out fossil fuels as a wider part of a just transition. 

We are also concerned about intense water usage as drought and warmer temperatures are greatly affecting access to clean water. Fossil fuel companies have known that their products were contributing to climate change for over forty years and now they see CCS as a government bail-out with many governmental subsidies providing just the type of perverse incentive for CCS operators to manipulate the system. Additionally, there are the same concerns present with other pipeline projects in the area regarding degradation of the land, disturbance of sacred ceremonial and burial sites. CO2 pipelines are also dangerous because when they rupture, they can spread over 1300 ft in under 4 min making it impossible to breathe and for vehicles to drive. First responders are not at all prepared to deal with such a catastrophe and many have been pushing back C02 pipelines for this reason alone. Furthermore, Indigenous communities will inevitably face encroachment on to treaty land, including environmentally racist moves on behalf of individual states to make sure that CCS does not negatively affect wealthy, white communities with influential power.

CCS is greenwashing rather than a solution to the climate emergency that Iowans deserve, as Indigenous people, we remain committed to the water, the land, and the future generations of Iowans.

Locally we have held multiple events to raise awareness of the dangers of carbon pipelines.
(See: )

What should be non-negotiable

We have a choice for future generations.

  • Take drastic environmental measures to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, or
  • Stay on the present course of continuing to view fossil fuels as resources for profit. To continue to make incremental changes that can never be enough.

This morning is particularly devastating for me because of the bartering for approval of the Mountain Valley Pipeline (MVP) in exchange for support of the legislation around the debt ceiling.

The Biden administration says MVP is an important part of U.S. energy security.

I know the pieces of the legislation that will be included in the final version are in flux. But whether approval of the MVP is part of that, the point is the continuing willingness of politicians and their backers to exploit any natural resources that will generate profits for them. The current administration was elected on promises to protect our environment. You can point out the rejection of the Keystone XL pipeline as an environmental win, one close to my heart. But oil leases in the Gulf, drilling in Alaska, and support of the carbon capture and storage boondoggle are just of few of the environmental harms the administration supports.
(See: )

Also extremely troubling is the obliteration of oversight from Federal and State agencies, or the courts!

We can only hope and pray this particular language is not included in the final legislation. That seems highly unlikely because of the vote needed from Sen. Manchin to support the debt ceiling bill.

What should be non-negotiable are any infrastructure construction, plans, laws, or regulations that harm Mother Earth.

A friend recently put it this way: The capitalist system is incapable of addressing environmental devastation.

Another important reason to embrace mutual aid.

The legislation would direct key agencies to issue all necessary permits and mandate that “no court shall have jurisdiction to review any action taken” that grants an approval necessary for the construction and initial operation of the embattled pipeline.

Last month, Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm signaled the Biden administration’s support for the pipeline when she wrote a letter to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, saying the “MVP project will enhance the Nation’s critical infrastructure for energy and national security.” The letter triggered backlash from some Democrats.

The debt ceiling legislation would direct key agencies to issue all necessary permits and mandate that “no court shall have jurisdiction to review any action taken” that grants an approval necessary for the construction and initial operation of the embattled pipeline. A federal water permit from the Army Corps of Engineers is still needed by the project, for example, and would need to be issued within 21 days after the bill’s enactment.

If the bill is signed into law, the pipeline would no longer need a new water certification from the West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection to complete its federal approvals and restart construction, according to a congressional aide familiar with the legislation. The 4th Circuit vacated that certification at the beginning of April, prompting opponents of the project to urge investors to walk away from the 42-inch diameter pipeline.

The debt ceiling bill text states that “Congress hereby finds and declares that the timely completion of construction and operation of the Mountain Valley Pipeline is required in the national interest.”

Mountain Valley pipeline poised for completion by Carlos Anchondo, Nina Farah, Energy Wire, May 30, 2023

The text of the debt ceiling bill released on Sunday would approve all the remaining permits to complete the stalled Mountain Valley Pipeline, delivering a big win for West Virginia Sens. Joe Manchin and Shelley Moore Capito.

But the backing of the pipeline that would deliver gas from West Virginia into the Southeast is sure to set off bitter complaints from the environmental groups that have fought its construction for years and turned the project into a symbol of their struggle against fossil fuels.

The project has won support from the White House, which argues the controversial project is needed for U.S. energy security. Its approval comes after the approval of the Willow oil project in Alaska, which activists have said undercuts the Biden administration’s climate promises.

Debt ceiling deal includes surprise approval of natural gas pipeline championed by Manchin. The controversial natural gas project has been a priority for West Virginia, but its approval will bring new criticism for the Biden administration by Josh Siegel, Politico, May 28, 2023

‘Cowardice’ vs. ‘compromise’

While the section on Mountain Valley was welcomed by West Virginia Sens. Joe Manchin (D) and Shelley Moore Capito (R), it wasn’t acceptable to Sen. Tim Kaine (D-Va.).

Kaine is “extremely disappointed by the provision of the bill to greenlight the controversial Mountain Valley Pipeline in Virginia, bypassing the normal judicial and administrative review process every other energy project has to go through,” said Janine Kritschgau, a Kaine spokesperson, in an emailed statement Monday.

The senator plans to file an amendment to remove the provision related to Mountain Valley, the Kaine spokesperson added.

Mountain Valley pipeline poised for completion by Carlos Anchondo, Nina Farah, Energy Wire, May 30, 2023

During his campaign, Biden promised he would be “banning new oil and gas permitting on public lands and waters,” NPR writes. However, this has not come to fruition during his presidency.

Despite the implications for climate change, the Gulf of Mexico auction was actually a stipulation of the 2022 Inflation Reduction Act (IRA) that arose as a compromise between Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) and other Senate Democrats. The auction, called Lease Sale 259, was to be held “no later than March 30, 2023,” and put up for sale an Italy-sized area for the purpose of oil drilling. Manchin’s IRA requirements also called for the sale of land in the Cook Inlet of Alaska, according to CNN. That lease is likely to begin in September 2023.

Why did Biden auction off the Gulf of Mexico for oil drilling? by Devika Rao, Yahoo News, April 2, 2023

Against terrorism charges

Who is a terrorist? One sentiment is “One Man’s Terrorist another Man’s Freedom Fighter“. I’m surprised to learn there is not a widely accepted definition of terrorism. And that lack of definition facilitates the ability of governments to define those who criticize them as terrorists. And to incarcerate or kill them. As they killed forest defender Manuel “Tortuguita” Terán.

In terms of their overall organization and movement strategy, the Cop City protests are in many ways a far cry from the Civil Rights Movement of the ’60s. But it’s still worth asking: if MLK got arrested in Atlanta today during a political demonstration, would he be charged as a domestic terrorist? And would those who lionize him today have remained silent?

The Terrorism Charges Against Cop City Protesters Are Ominous by Ryan Zickgraf, Jacobin, Jan 27, 2023

Friday I participated in a demonstration calling for Nationwide insurance company to cut their contract to insure the construction of Cop City.
See: #StopCopCity activists shouldn’t be tried as terrorists

After that, I read the following from the Department of Homeland Security.

“Since spring of 2022, alleged DVEs (Domestic Violent Extremists) in Georgia have cited anarchist violent extremism, animal rights/environmental violent extremism, and anti-law enforcement sentiment to justify criminal activity in opposition to a planned public safety training facility in Atlanta. Criminal acts have included an alleged shooting and assaults targeting law enforcement and property damage targeting the facility, construction companies, and financial institutions for their perceived involvement with the planned facility”

Summary of Terrorism-Related Threat to the United States, Department of Homeland Security

Defining terrorism

In 1988 two European scholars Alex Schmid and Albert Jongman produced one of the more robust definitions of terrorism. They did this by surveying 200 leading academics in the field of terrorism studies. The research asked each expert to define terrorism.

Terrorism is some form of purposive and planned violence that has a political, religious, or ideological motivation. It is intended to coerce or intimidate and is targeted at civilians or government. Legislation prohibiting terrorism ought to have extra-territorial effect.

One man’s freedom fighter… can we ever define terrorism? by Fergal Davis, The Conversation, January 7, 2013

extra-territorial – (of a law or decree) valid outside a country’s territory

Extra-territorial is part of the definition to preclude a definition of terrorism pertaining to a local political situation. Such as local opposition to Cop City. That is, supporters of Stop Cop City would not be classified as terrorists by this definition.

Escalation of charges

Protesters against a massive police militarization complex in Atlanta have been slapped with domestic terrorism charges for throwing bottles and breaking windows. That should be deeply worrisome for anyone who values the right to dissent.

Can you be charged with terrorism for throwing bottles or breaking a window of a bank? You can in Atlanta, where the state of Georgia has slapped serious domestic terrorism charges on eleven people who’ve been demonstrating since December against the construction of a massive police militarization complex known as Cop City.

Governor Brian Kemp justified the severe punishment on Twitter, saying, “Violence and unlawful destruction of property are not acts of protest. They are crimes that will not be tolerated in Georgia and will be prosecuted fully.” On Thursday, Kemp signed an executive order declaring a state of emergency and authorizing the deployment of a thousand National Guard troops to arrest Cop City protesters. The state of emergency lasts two weeks, until February 9.

Kemp’s definition of “prosecuting fully” has changed since 2020. During the George Floyd protests that filled the streets of downtown Atlanta, most protesters arrested were taken to the city jail for offenses that included disorderly conduct, burglary, and criminal property damage.

Now, two years later, Georgia authorities are trumping up property crimes and relatively minor vandalism by Cop City political demonstrators as acts of terrorism. If convicted, the activists could face up to thirty-five years in prison — which in the state of Georgia is a punishment similar to second-degree murder.

The Terrorism Charges Against Cop City Protesters Are Ominous by Ryan Zickgraf, Jacobin, Jan 27, 2023

Atlanta, Georgia – 66 environmental, human rights, and civil liberties organizations sent a letter to Georgia prosecutors urging them to drop domestic terrorism charges against Stop Cop City/Defend the Atlanta Forest protesters. The charges represent a draconian escalation seemingly intended to chill First Amendment protected activity.

The letter reads, in part:

Civil disobedience and disruptive activism are part of the American protest tradition. From the Boston Tea Party to the civil rights movement, Americans have long drawn on civil disobedience tactics akin to the occupation of the Atlanta forest by the Stop Cop City protesters. Based on the information contained in the arrest warrants, many of the people charged with domestic terrorism are accused only of trespassing or other minor crimes. In all cases, application of the domestic terrorism statute is an escalatory intimidation tactic and a draconian step that seems intended to chill First Amendment protected activity.


Critics of domestic terrorism laws, including some civil rights groups, oppose them “because of the risk of politicization because they can be used against politically disfavored groups by the government,” Patrick Keenan, a professor of law at the University of Illinois, said.

A 2017 Georgia law defines domestic terrorism as a felony intended to kill or harm people; “disable or destroy critical infrastructure, a state or government facility, or a public transportation system”; “intimidate the civil population or any of its political subdivisions”; and change or coerce state policy or affect the conduct of government “by use of destructive devices, assassination, or kidnapping.” Conviction carries a maximum sentence of 35 years in prison.

The allegations against the protesters include trespassing, resisting arrest, throwing rocks and glass bottles and damaging property, including setting fire to a police car. Authorities have also said they found “explosive devices, gasoline, and road flares” in an area in the forest where protesters had makeshift treehouses.

Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp, a Republican, has called the protesters “militant activists” and said “we will bring the full force of state and local law enforcement down on those trying to bring about a radical agenda through violent means.”

Arrests in Atlanta ‘Cop City’ protests raise concerns over domestic terrorism charges. Critics of such laws, including civil rights groups, say they can be politicized and used against marginalized groups or those disliked by government. By Danielle Silva, NBC News, Jan 29, 2022

#StopCopCity activists shouldn’t be tried as terrorists

One of the key tactics of authoritarianism is to brutally suppress dissent.

I’ve been writing about the huge proposed police training facility in Atlanta.

This project has generated a great deal of opposition, in part because it furthers the advancement of violent, militarized policing. Just the opposite of what so many of us are working toward, an end to the carceral systems in this country.

The campaign to defend the forest in Atlanta, Georgia has become one of the most vibrant movements of the post-Trump era, interweaving environmentalism, abolitionism, and the fight against gentrification. Yet as police shift to employing lethal violence and indiscriminate terrorism charges, it has reached a critical juncture. Participants explore how this struggle has developed over the past year, reflecting on the practices that have given it strength and analyzing the challenges before it.

The Forest in the City. Two Years of Forest Defense in Atlanta, Georgia by CrimethInc., 2/22/2023

I came of age at the time this country was in the midst of significant unrest related to the war in Viet Nam, and racial injustice. Looking back at the late 1960s, it looks like a different world. A world where dissent and free speech were protected. In the decades since then, I’ve been involved in many acts of protest. It was known that law enforcement was keeping track of this dissent. But most of us didn’t fear the police then. We White people, anyway.

Nonviolent civil disobedience, where an arrest is likely, is a tactic to bring attention to injustice. Those involved in intentional disobedience did so to demonstrate how much we were willing to risk to bring attention to injustice. The Keystone Pledge of Resistance involved training people to hold acts of nonviolent disobedience to stop the approval of the permit for the Keystone XL pipeline to cross the US-Canada border. President Obama denied that permit.

Not one of the activists I know condone any use of violence.

Some activists have decided the threats from increasing greenhouse gas emissions, leading to increasing environmental chaos, are such an existential threat that they had to break the law.

The defense of necessity may apply when an individual commits a criminal act during an emergency situation in order to prevent a greater harm from happening. In such circumstances, our legal system typically excuses the individual’s criminal act because it was justified, or finds that no criminal act has occurred. Although necessity may seem like a defense that would be commonly invoked by defendants seeking to avoid criminal charges, its application is limited by several important requirements:

  • The defendant must reasonably have believed that there was an actual and specific threat that required immediate action
  • The defendant must have had no realistic alternative to completing the criminal act
  • The harm caused by the criminal act must not be greater than the harm avoided
  • The defendant did not himself contribute to or cause the threat

Only if all of these requirements are met, will the defense of necessity be applicable.

The Necessity Defense in Criminal Law Cases

I’ve learned to be careful to not include people’s faces when I take photos at justice events, having learned law enforcement looks at photos to identify people for arrest.

Recent efforts to criminalize protests in the United States have been observed in various states. For instance, 20 states have passed laws that criminalize protesting, including on infrastructure such as pipelines. Since 2016, as many as 225 anti-protest bills have been introduced in 45 states, with over 100 introduced since the Black Liberation demonstrations in June 2020. According to the US Protest Law Tracker, 51 bills were under consideration in 24 state legislatures as of February 2021.

These efforts to criminalize protest have raised concerns about the potential infringement on the right to peaceful assembly. The US Protest Law Tracker provides a comprehensive overview of state and federal legislation introduced since January 2017 that restricts the right to peaceful assembly.

Returning to authoritarianism, recent years have seen the escalation of charges against peaceful protesters. Even so, I was shocked yesterday to learn that those who protest to stop cop city have been designated a terrorism-related threat. I learned that protesters might be considered domestic violent extremists (DVEs).

“Since spring of 2022, alleged DVEs (Domestic Violent Extremists) in Georgia have cited anarchist violent extremism, animal rights/environmental violent extremism, and anti-law enforcement sentiment to justify criminal activity in opposition to a planned public safety training facility in Atlanta. Criminal acts have included an alleged shooting and assaults targeting law enforcement and property damage targeting the facility, construction companies, and financial institutions for their perceived involvement with the planned facility”

Summary of Terrorism-Related Threat to the United States, Department of Homeland Security

Atlanta police on Monday charged 23 people with state domestic terrorism charges, a day after officers detained dozens of people following a violent clash at the proposed construction site of what has been dubbed “Cop City” – a $90m police and firefighter training center in a forest near Atlanta.

Atlanta police charge 23 with domestic terrorism amid ‘Cop City’ week of action. Move follows violent weekend clash at proposed construction site of Georgia police training facility in forest by Edwin Rios, The Guardian, March 6, 2023

THREE ACTIVISTS INVOLVED in the Defend Atlanta Forest movement are facing charges of felony intimidation of an officer of the state and misdemeanor stalking for placing flyers on mailboxes in a neighborhood in Bartow County, Georgia, about 40 miles from Atlanta. The detainees were held for days in solitary confinement, a lawyer working on the case and a relative of one of the activists told The Intercept.

The flyer, according to the lawyer, named a police officer who lives in the area where the activists were arrested and alleged he was connected to the killing in January of forest defender Manuel “Tortuguita” Terán during a multi-agency raid on the Atlanta Forest protest encampment.

Julia Dupuis, an activist named Charley who asked that their last name be withheld for security concerns, and an activist named Wednesday were arrested at a gas station outside the town of Cartersville on Friday. According to their lawyer, Lyra Foster, the activists drove once through the neighborhood and placed flyers on numerous mailboxes without exiting their vehicle or approaching any residents. Foster said Wednesday was a passenger in the car and not posting flyers.

If found guilty, they could each face up to 20 years in prison.

“They were not handing out flyers, they were actually extremely careful in trying to avoid doing anything illegal,” Foster told The Intercept. “They posted the flyers on mailboxes, they did not even get out of the van to put flyers on the doors, and did not open the mailboxes because they thought that was potentially illegal.”

“They posted the flyers on mailboxes, they did not even get out of the van to put flyers on the doors.”

The attorney added that the activists “certainly had no intention to intimidate the officer” and “were trying to spread awareness about the police killing.”

Activists face felonies for distributing flyers on “Cop City” protester killing. The activists face 20 years in prison for handing out flyers that identified a cop they said was linked to the killing of a protester in the Atlanta forest by Natasha Lennard and Akela Lacy, The Intercept, May 2, 2023

Yesterday a group of us concerned about “Cop City” and policing in general, carried signs and a banner calling attention to the Nationwide Insurance company’s insurance coverage for the construction of “Cop City”. In light of the escalation of charges for protesting, I am not including any photos with people’s faces visible. “Insures Homicide” refers to the police killing of Manuel Esteban Paez Terán (Tortuguita) who was tree-sitting in the forest.
(See: )

For more information about Nationwide, see:

Future sacrificed for policing

It’s kind of heartbreaking to read “The Atlanta City Design“, and to see the aspirations of a city “Aspiring to the Beloved Community”. And then find those goals usurped by designing a huge police training facility in a forested area of the city.

1 Equity
Our challenge for Equity is the continuous, contentious, and often unappreciated work of ensuring that all the benefits of Nature, Access, Ambition, and Progress accrue fairly
to everyone.
2 Progress
Our challenge for Progress is to protect people and places with meaning from the market forces that will otherwise overrun them.
3 Ambition
Our challenge for Ambition is to leverage the disruption of change to unlock new opportunities for people to do what they want with their lives.
4 Access
Our challenge for Access is to update our hub of transportation for a new generation while also building a sense of community and place.
5 Nature
Our challenge for Nature is to protect and expand the ecological value of our watersheds, forest, and habitat in the face of rapid urbanization.

The Atlanta City Design

In 2017, the South River Forest was designated as one of four major city “lungs” in a report titled “The Atlanta City Design,” put together by Atlanta’s city-planning department. The report’s lead author was Ryan Gravel, a Georgia Tech alum whose graduate thesis led to the creation of the city’s ballyhooed BeltLine greenway. Gravel and his co-authors envision the South River Forest as a great urban park and conservation corridor. The city council formally adopted the plan, and Gravel began working with the Nature Conservancy to make it a reality; in March of last year, a two-hundred-acre parcel surrounding a drained lake three miles south of the prison farm, which could have become another landfill, was approved for permanent preservation.

Then, the following month, Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms, a Democrat, made an announcement: the area around the prison farm was going to be the site of a sprawling training facility for police and firefighters. This, Gravel said, was “a big surprise.” Many people in Atlanta were startled by the news—including Joe Santifer, who told me that he’d already been bothered by the police presence in the forest. For decades, the Atlanta P.D. has operated a firing range there, and, on his forest strolls, Santifer had begun hearing gunfire. Even from a distance, he said, it “sounds like a battleground.” He e-mailed a complaint to the city, and, a few days later, he got a response: “Call 911.”

The New Fight Over an Old Forest in Atlanta. The plans for an enormous police-training center—dubbed Cop City by critics—have ignited interest in one of Atlanta’s largest remaining green spaces. By Charles Bethea, The New Yorker, August 3, 2022

The A.P.F. (Atlanta Police Foundation), which was founded in 2003, is one of many police foundations created in the past two decades. These private nonprofits typically channel corporate money into policing initiatives, expanding police budgets and, in some cases, producing apparent conflicts of interest. Some of Atlanta’s most influential people—the C.E.O.s of Waffle House and of the Atlanta Hawks, V.P.s from the Home Depot and Delta Air Lines—sit on the A.P.F.’s board; Coca-Cola and Cox Enterprises, a media conglomerate based in Atlanta, are among the corporations that have acknowledged their contributions to the foundation. Cox’s C.E.O., Alex Taylor, is the chair of fund-raising for the training facility. Cox owns the city’s largest newspaper, the Journal-Constitution, which has published a number of editorials in favor of the facility and has only sometimes disclosed its owner’s contributions to the A.P.F.

Atlanta’s city council solicited public comment on the facility in September of last year, and received more than seventeen hours of remarks—including a few minutes from Joe Santifer. “I said the location isn’t congruent with the neighborhood,” he told me. “It’s outsized for the number of officers that Atlanta has, and the process has been rushed.” Santifer said that he’d also listened to most of the other remarks, which were recorded, and that “about seventy per cent” were opposed to the development. (A crowdsourced tally reached the same conclusion.) The other thirty percent, he said, “were mimicking what they had been told—that this was gonna solve Atlanta’s crime problem and the problem with low morale in the police force.” Santifer began researching alternative sites, including a dilapidated mall in southwest Atlanta and a few industrial properties­. He also took to social media to alert his neighbors to what was going on.

The New Fight Over an Old Forest in Atlanta. By Charles Bethea, The New Yorker, August 3, 2022

Stop Building Obsolete

Obsolete what?

We seem to be in a split-screen moment. Despite growing resignation that environmental chaos will only worsen, we still refuse to make changes that will stop making it worse. That is, we continue to build:

  • Fossil fuel infrastructure
    • gas (fossil fuel) stations
    • highways/bridges/parking structures
    • airports
    • oil rigs
    • pipelines
    • coal mining
    • fracking
    • plastics
    • anything gas powered
      • automobiles, trucks, ships, planes, and trains
      • military equipment
      • lawn mowers, chainsaws, leaf blowers
  • Buildings damaged by storms and erosion on shorelines are rebuilt in the same place
  • Criminal system
    • prisons
      • we need to abolish carceral systems of injustice
    • police training facilities

Before any lasting peace may be achieved, however, the Stop Cop City movement must reverse the current state system that militarized police against its own citizens. This gave rise to the construction of Cop City in the first place.

Andrew Benzinger

How to Stop

  1. Research the project
  2. Who are the decision-makers?
  3. What are ways to influence decision-makers?
    • Engage in dialog
    • Are there laws or regulations that apply?
      • Political lobbying
      • Bring attention to violations of laws/regulations
  4. Build coalitions and networks
  5. Mobilize public opinion
    • Use media, social media, events, campaigns, and other tools to raise awareness, educate and persuade the public about your issue.
    • Encourage people to express their views and take action in support of your cause.

Nationwide Insures Cop City

“Cop City” is a proposed extensive facility to train police and firefighters. To also train police from other states. This is in direct opposition to growing calls to reform policing. This photo was from our action to support “No Cop City” in Des Moines on January 31, 2023.

Activists search for multiple ways to bring attention to injustices. In 2013 the Keystone Pledge of Resistance targeted the application for the Keystone XL pipeline to cross the US-Canada border. This decision was solely in the hands of President Obama. After months of organizing and rallies against the pipeline, Obama decided to deny the permit. This was the first major win in the fight against the fossil fuel industry.

There are many reasons to oppose “Cop City”, but perhaps the most significant is the need to stop militarizing policing in this country.

Before any lasting peace may be achieved, however, the Stop Cop City movement must reverse the current state system that militarized police against its own citizens. This gave rise to the construction of Cop City in the first place.

GUEST COLUMN: How the Stop Cop City movement persists in the face of the police state by Andrew Benzinger

Other efforts have failed, and there is now a call to bring national attention to Nationwide Insurance Company, one of the companies insuring the Cop City project. Without valid insurance, construction cannot occur. Plans are being made for a solidarity action in Des Moines.

As has been noted previously, the APF (Atlanta Police Foundation) cannot build Cop City alone–they rely on a hired support network of architects, engineers, contractors, and others to build it for them. One of the most critical pillars of this support structure is insuranceWithout a valid insurance policy covering APF’s liability in the event of injury to workers or damage to property, construction cannot occur.

A Certificate of Insurance dated February 24, 2023 shows two companies providing insurance to the APF: the first is Scottsdale Insurance Co., a subsidiary of the well-known Fortune 500 company Nationwide; the second is Accident Fund General Insurance Company, a much smaller agency based in Lansing, Michigan. The broker for the policy is Amanda Surface from Correll Insurance Group, a small insurance company based out of South Carolina.

A controversial police training facility needs more than $30 million from Atlanta taxpayers. But during more than seven hours of public comment at a packed city council meeting on Monday, hundreds of locals expressed unanimous opposition to the project.

The Atlanta Public Safety Training Center—called “Cop City” by challengers—is a proposed $90 million, 85-acre police training ground slated for construction in Atlanta’s South River Forest. The project has seen opposition from environmental, racial justice, and indigenous rights activists, who argue that the project will cut down a forest on historically Native American land and fuel aggressive policing. After a series of protester arrests, and the killing of one activist by police, the project is now close to breaking ground. And opposition is louder than ever.

“I’ve been to City Hall for some years now,” Micah Herskind, an Atlanta-based community organizer who attended the Monday meeting, told The Daily Beast. “But until the Monday city council hearing, “I’ve never seen the line at the door, even, of where the public comment sign up is. It was out the door, around the whole second floor, winding down the stairs, and then eventually went out through the building, through the security line. I’ve never seen anything like it. And not only did masses of people show up, they showed up literally 100 percent against Cop City. We did a complete tally of public comments. 100 percent of commenters were against Cop City.”

Atlanta Activists Are Racing to Stop $33.5 Million ‘Cop City’ Funding by Kelly Weill, The Daily Beast, May 16, 2023

Before any lasting peace may be achieved, however, the Stop Cop City movement must reverse the current state system that militarized police against its own citizens. This gave rise to the construction of Cop City in the first place. We must not only use any available means to cause  public and digital disruption of complacency such as transforming social media into platforms of social education and change, creating community gardens and forums to exchange food and information, marching, joining grassroots networks dedicated to charity and social justice, donating money and time to those networks and building Martin Luther King Jr.’s vision of beloved communities. We will create a place that empowers one another and turns the tide against open militarization. 

We must direct our eyes beyond our present obstacle — Cop City — and into the heart of racial and capital hierarchy, which causes these state-led attacks on Americans. To the soon-to-be-ex-mayor Andre Dickens, ex-mayor Bottoms and the APD’s corporate cronies, we are Atlanta. 

In the words of our forest defenders, “we are nature defending itself. We are seeds, building our root systems. Alone we go fast, together we go far.” And in the words of our late friend and sibling Tortuguita, “Fear is the mind killer.”

Viva Tortuguita!

GUEST COLUMN: How the Stop Cop City movement persists in the face of the police state by Andrew Benzinger, Guest Columnist, The Red and Black, Mar 30, 2023 Updated Apr 12, 2023

Travel Advisories in Florida and Iowa

Recently, separately, the NAACP and Equality Florida (the state’s largest LGBTQ civil rights group) issued travel advisories in Florida. These advisories highlight the consequences of Florida’s relentless far-right political agenda and passage of legislation to implement its extreme policies.

At the end of this is a description of Des Moines Black Liberation’s declaration of #BlackEmergencyIA in October 2020. Des Moines Mutual Aid has always supported Des Moines Black Liberation. Also, in one of the photos below you can see how Des Moines Black Liberation (BLM) supports the Wet’suwet’en peoples’ struggles against the Coastal GasLink pipeline in Canada, showing how justice groups support each other.

The #BlackEmergencyIA declaration was reissued at the time of President Biden’s inauguration in light of the January 6th attack (2021) on the U.S. Capitol.

NAACP Issues Travel Advisory in Florida


May 20, 2023

Contact: Chyna Fields

WASHINGTON – Today, the NAACP Board of Directors issued a formal travel advisory for the state of Florida. The travel advisory comes in direct response to Governor Ron DeSantis’ aggressive attempts to erase Black history and to restrict diversity, equity, and inclusion programs in Florida schools. 

The formal travel notice states, “Florida is openly hostile toward African Americans, people of color and LGBTQ+ individuals. Before traveling to Florida, please understand that the state of Florida devalues and marginalizes the contributions of, and the challenges faced by African Americans and other communities of color.” 

“Let me be clear – failing to teach an accurate representation of the horrors and inequalities that Black Americans have faced and continue to face is a disservice to students and a dereliction of duty to all,” said NAACP President & CEO Derrick Johnson. “Under the leadership of Governor Desantis, the state of Florida has become hostile to Black Americans and in direct conflict with the democratic ideals that our union was founded upon. He should know that democracy will prevail because its defenders are prepared to stand up and fight. We’re not backing down, and we encourage our allies to join us in the battle for the soul of our nation.”

The travel advisory was initially proposed to the Board of Directors by NAACP’s Florida State Conference. NAACP’s collective consideration of this advisory is a result from unrelenting attacks on fundamental freedoms from the Governor and his legislative body. 

“Once again, hate-inspired state leaders have chosen to put politics over people. Governor Ron DeSantis and the state of Florida have engaged in a blatant war against principles of diversity and inclusion and rejected our shared identities to appeal to a dangerous, extremist minority,” said Chair of the NAACP Board of Directors, Leon Russell. “We will not not allow our rights and history to be held hostage for political grandstanding. The NAACP proudly fights against the malicious attacks in Florida, against Black Americans. I encourage my fellow Floridians to join in this fight to protect ourselves and our democracy.”

Following Gov. DeSantis’ so-called leadership in driving the state to reject students’ access to AP African American studies course in March, the NAACP distributed 10,000 books to 25 predominantly Black communities across the state in collaboration with the American Federation of Teachers’s Reading Opens the World program. The majority of the books donated were titles banned under the state’s increasingly restrictive laws. The NAACP continues to encourage local branches and youth councils to start community libraries to ensure access to representative literature.

The NAACP encourages Florida residents to join this effort to defeat the regressive policies of this Governor and this state legislature. Interested residents and supporters can visit for additional information and updates.

The advisory cited specific Florida policies including SB 266 and HB 7.

SB 266, signed into law just last week, effectively prohibits higher education institutions from spending state funds on diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) initiatives. In the words of Governor DeSantis, this law will help “treat people as individuals” by banning programs that “[stand] for discrimination, exclusion, and indoctrination.” This bill builds on SB 7044, which required periodic reviews of tenured faculty members and mandated professors to post their textbook lists online 45 days before their first classes.

In March, college students in Florida organized numerous walkouts in protest of HB 999, a similar proposal being worked on in the state’s House of Representatives.

HB 7, also known as the Stop Wrongs Against Our Kids and Employees Act (“Stop W.O.K.E. Act”), was enacted in 2022. It attempted to ban “woke indoctrination” by limiting the teaching of Critical Race Theory at public universities and restricting diversity training among employers. A federal court blocked parts of HB 7 after finding them unconstitutional.

NAACP issues travel advisory for Florida over state efforts to limit Black history classes and ban diversity programs in schools by Caitlin Williams, U. Pittsburgh School of Law, JURIST, MAY 22, 2023 06:53:27 PM

Florida’s largest LGBTQ rights group travel advisory 4/11/2023

Florida’s largest LGBTQ civil rights group has issued a travel advisory for the state.

Equality Florida says the advisory, issued Wednesday, was prompted by “the passage of laws that are hostile to the LGBTQ community, restrict access to reproductive health care, repeal gun safety laws, foment racial prejudice and attack public education by banning books and censoring curriculum.”

Florida has recently adopted a slate of hateful laws, and is fast-tracking additional measures that directly target the rights of LGBTQ+ individuals and basic freedoms broadly. Already, those policies have led Florida parents to consider relocating, prospective students to cross Florida colleges and universities off their lists, events and conferences to cancel future gatherings, and the United States military to offer redeployment for service members whose families are now unsafe in the state. These laws and policies are detailed below.

Florida travel advisory issued by state LGBTQ civil rights group. The group pointed to issues of gun violence, LGBTQ restrictions and more by Kiara Alfonseca, ABC News, April 13, 2023, 9:35 AM

The Equality Florida travel advisory describes the following concerns:

  • Assaults on Medical Freedom
  • Assaults on Academic Freedom
  • Censorship and Erasure of the LGBTQ Community
  • Assaults on Arts, Entertainment, and Sports Participation
  • Assaults on Business
  • Efforts to Foment Racial Prejudice
  • Repealing of Gun Safety Laws
  • Attacks on Immigrant Communities

Des Moines Black Liberation State of Emergency

This reminds me of the declaration of #BlackEmergencyIA in October 2020. Des Moines Mutual Aid has always supported Des Moines Black Liberation. In the video, you can see my Des Moines Mutual Aid comrade, Patrick Stahl, describing that support.

This blog post contains much more information about this.
Black State of Emergency in Iowa #BlackEmergencyIA

Patrick: Hi, I’m Patrick Stahl with Des Moines Mutual Aid.

Des Moines Mutual Aid is a collective that does outreach for homeless folks in our community, houseless folks in our community. We also assist BLM with their rent relief fund, and most of the work we’ve done is running the bail fund for the protests over the summer. In the course of that work, we have witnessed firsthand the violence that is done upon people of color, Black people specifically, by the white supremacist forces of the state – in this state, in this city, in this county. There is absolutely a state of emergency for people of color and Black people in Iowa. The state of emergency has been a long time coming. We will support – DMMA will absolutely support any and all efforts of this community – BLM, and the people of color community more generally- to keep themselves safe. Power to the people.

Des Moines BLM reissues travel advisory ahead of inauguration

The #BlackEmergencyIA advisory is set to go into effect Saturday ahead of the President-elect Joe Biden’s inauguration Jan. 20 in Washington.

Des Moines BLM reissues #BlackEmergencyIA travel advisory ahead of inauguration

Author: Hollie Knepper

Published: 7:08 PM CST January 14, 2021

Updated: 7:10 PM CST January 14, 2021 

DES MOINES, Iowa — Starting this weekend, a travel advisory reissued by the Des Moines Black Liberation Movement (DSM BLM) will go into effect for all Black Iowans and other people of color. 

The Iowa Coalition for Collective Change (ICCC) is also helping with the advisory, which is scheduled to go into effect on Jan. 16-27. 

ICCC and DSM BLM organizers held a press conference Thursday to go over more details.

“So last Wednesday, January 6, we all saw as white supremacists attacked the US Capitol,” said Jaylen Cavil, chair of DSM BLM’s advocacy department. “For many, we heard that this was a surprise, but for us at the Des Moines Black Liberation Movement, this was business as usual.”

“Here we are again and I’m tired of doing these press conferences, but unfortunately they are a necessity,” ICCC Executive Director Luana Nelson-Brown said. “The violence that we’ve seen over the past few months continues to escalate.” 

Nelson-Brown said the first travel advisory happened in September.

“As many are aware, authorities and other outlets are putting out warnings saying that in all 50 [states] and this nation’s capital there will be white supremacist violence that is being planned in the coming week surrounded around the inauguration of Joe Biden,” Cavil said.

That is why DSM BLM is reissuing the advisory. 

Basic measures include:

  • Do not travel alone or at night if at all possible
  • If you must, then make sure to inform someone of where you are going and when you plan to return
  • Know your rights
  • Make sure to have an exit plan for any situation you find yourself in


I previously described the new publication of Des Moines Mutual Aid.

The publication of MUTUAL AID MONTHLY relates to one of our Points of Unity, political consciousness.

We work to raise the political consciousness of our communities.
Part of political education is connecting people’s lived experiences to a broader political perspective. Another component is working to ensure that people can meet their basic needs. It is difficult to organize for future liberation when someone is entrenched in day-to-day struggle.from Points of Unity, Des Moines Mutual Aid

Political ignorance is one of the main reasons this country is falling into chaos and authoritarianism. People would be less susceptible to falling for cults of personality and understand the threats to freedom posed by culture wars if they had a better education, including critical thinking skills. You might think of sharing MUTUAL AID MONTHLY with others in furtherance of their/your political consciousness. As a resource to stimulate discussions.

Yesterday at our Des Moines Mutual Aid food giveaway, I received a copy of this month’s edition of the Des Moines Mutual Aid Monthly, the third edition available. Below are the three editions that have been published thus far.

Des Moines Mutual Aid Monthly

March 2023

April 2023

May 2023