A colorful bouncy castle house with pointy cone tips in its four corner columns sits on the basketball court at Brownwood Park in southeast Atlanta. To its right snacks and a popcorn machine sit on a folding table. Behind the snack table a banner hangs from trees reading “We End Police Terror Together” with a painted image of a clenched green fist emerging from an overturned and smashed police car - brown roots feeding into the green fist can be seen growing into the ground through the smashed windshield of the upside down cop car.

6th ‘Stop Cop City’ Week of Action – Unicorn Riot Coverage

Atlanta, GA — During the week of June 24 – July 1, activists, organizers, and community members opposed to ‘Cop City’ are converging in Atlanta for a “Week of Action” against the Atlanta Public Safety Training Center. People gathered in and around Atlanta to mobilize against the Atlanta Police Foundation’s proposed urban warfare training center.

In the months since the last national convergence against the project, clear cutting in Weelaunee, where the training facility may be built, has escalated, the city of Atlanta has approved millions in additional funds for the project, and repression against organizers has continued.

The fight has drawn national attention, and those opposed to what would be the largest police training compound in the nation remain determined to stop the project. Unicorn Riot has been on the ground covering the fight against ‘Cop City’ for the past two years, and our coverage of this diverse struggle will continue this week as we report from Atlanta throughout the “week of action.” Check back here for updates on our coverage as the sixth week of action continues.

State of the Movement

Anarchists, environmentalists and activists of various stripes have been resisting ‘Cop City’ since late 2021. Through political organizing and militant direct action, including physically repelling police and construction workers and occupying the forest itself until early 2023, people have successfully delayed ‘Cop City’s’ construction for nearly two years.

Police actions in response to the ‘Stop Cop City’ movement have been defined by brutal force and heavy-handed charges that often seem to lack any supporting evidence.

Since December 2022, Georgia and Atlanta police have been charging those arrested opposing ‘Cop City’ under a rarely-used Georgia state ‘Domestic Terrorism’ law that is currently being challenged as unconstitutional.

On January 18, a Georgia State Patrol SWAT team shot and killed forest defender Manual ‘Tortuguita’ Terán during a raid to evict tree-sitters from the forest, where they had been preventing construction from moving forward.

The last ‘Week of Action’ in early March 2023 saw hundreds of militant forest defenders storm a construction site on March 5, chasing police away and burning several millions of dollars in construction equipment. In response, police made arrests at a music festival over a mile away, jailing 23 people on Domestic Terrorism charges, none of whom so far have seen evidence introduced linking them to the attack on the construction site.

On May 31, an Atlanta Police SWAT team working with the Georgia Bureau of Investigation arrested 3 legal aid workers with the Atlanta Solidarity Fund, charging them with money laundering and charity fraud, based on evidence that a judge reviewing the case said he “[didn’t] find very impressive.”

While state and local police continued to target organizers, on June 5 the Atlanta City Council approved $67 million in public finances for ‘Cop City’ after a record-setting 15 hours of public comment opposed to the funding measure.

Since city council’s decision, the political fallout around ‘Cop City’ has spread. In the days before the “week of action” began, on June 22, DeKalb County District Attorney Sherry Boston announced her office’s withdrawal from co-prosecuting the domestic terrorism charges against protesters with Georgia Attorney General Chris Carr.

Then a day later, on June 23, Georgia Bureau of Investigation Director Michael Register suddenly resigned. The Georgia Bureau of Investigation is the lead agency investigating ‘Cop City’ cases as well as the police killing of Manuel ‘Tortuguita’ Esteban Paez Terán. Georgia Senators Raphael Warnock and John Ossoff have expressed their concern about police overreach violating civil liberties and Bernice King, CEO of the King Center, spoke out against funding ‘Cop City.’

Meanwhile, the Atlanta Police Foundation’s contractors have been rushing to finish clear cutting the forest in a blow to local ecosystems and Atlanta’s ability to withstand flooding and heat waves. Sediment runoff from the construction area has already been shown to be polluting local streams and a federal water quality monitoring sensor in the area was quietly shut down in May amidst reports by local ecological advocates that police have tried to interfere with their collection of water samples on public property near the ‘Cop City’ construction site.

Several legal challenges are underway to challenge ‘Cop City’ construction, including a zoning permit by local resident Amy Taylor. DeKalb County Commissioner Ted Terry has indicated he “may sue over claims that site-clearing… began without required runoff-prevention ponds, causing nearby stream pollution.” However, emails from Atlanta Police Foundation CEO Dave Wilkinson show he has instructed contractors to plan to ignore legal appeals and to continue working.

Community organizers also recently began collecting petition signatures to file for a ballot referendum to allow the citizens of Atlanta to vote to cancel the city’s lease of the site to the Atlanta Police Foundation, with influential Democratic voter turnout organizations lending support to the effort.

Unicorn Riot covered the sixth Week of Action against Cop City on the ground – see our coverage below:

Day 1: Kick-Off Party in Brownwood Park & Vigil for Tortuguita

The ‘Week of Action’ started with a gathering featuring food and plant distribution, creating and giving out signs, banners, shirts and other art, a bouncy house for kids, and a barbecue.

After approximately 9 relaxed hours of people gathering in the park, Atlanta Police arrived at right around the scheduled start time of a vigil for slain forest defender Manuel ‘Tortuguita’ Terán, claiming they were there in a “friendly” visit to remind protesters they could not remain in the park after 11 p.m. Chanting protesters followed the police throughout the park until they left.

Unicorn Riot livestreamed the tail end of the police action (seen in its main portion in the Twitter video above as police exited the grounds of Brownwood Park:

The vigil went ahead as planned with the crowd heading words and sharing prayers with Tortuguita’s mother Belkis Terán. After the vigil concluded, attendees of the gathering removed all structures and tents and left the park before 11; a group of officers reportedly swept through the park looking for tents around midnight.

Day 2: Rematriating Mvskoke Land & Hardcore Benefit Show

At Community Books in Stone Mountain, GA near Atlanta, Mekko Chebon Kernell — a spiritual leader and ceremonial practitioner of the Muscogee Creek people — spoke about the history of their displacement from lands in Georgia including the Weeluanee Forest, which encompasses the proposed ‘Cop City’ site. He also shared stories, lessons and principles from Muscogee Creek cosmology and how they could inform people from diverse backgrounds working to co-create a livable future for future generations in the face of ongoing damage to the earth.

The same evening in Atlanta also saw a hardcore punk concert that raised funds to benefit the Atlanta Solidarity Fund as Georgia Attorney General Chris Carr has tried to criminalize the group for providing legal aid to protect the constitutional rights of protesters.

Day 3: ‘Stop Cop City’ Week of Action Day 3: Bike Ride/Rally, Signature Gathering, Discussing Movement History

After hearing words from Tortuguita’s mother Belkis Terán, a ‘slow roll’ bike ride memorializing Manuel ‘Tortuguita’ Terán rode the Beltline trail to Freedom Park, where attendees collected signatures for the petition to hold a ballot referendum that would allow Atlanta residents to vote to cancel the lease for the proposed ‘Cop City’ site in the South River Forest.

The same evening in Brownwood Park, a panel discussion and community conversation facilitated by Unity and Struggle provided education about the last decade (2010-2019) of radical social movement struggles in Atlanta. Speakers shared stories and lessons from their experiences in Atlanta protesting and organizing in periods such as the 2011-2012 Occupy movement and the so-called “Black Lives Matter” protests that took place from roughly 2014-2016 after the spark provided by events in Ferguson.

Day 4: Rally to ReOpen Intrenchment Creek Park

Students and other community members rallied at DeKalb County headquarters in Decatur, GA to demand county officials reopen Intrenchment Creek Park, which has been closed under the pretext of safety concerns since March 24. DeKalb County CEO Michael Thurmond said in early June that the county plans to reopen Intrenchment Creek Park to the public, however it remains closed to public access.

Day 5: Cadence Bank Loan Protest, ‘March For the Forest’

On Wednesday morning a small group of protesters held a noise demonstration at the downtown location of Cadence Bank, which is providing a construction loan to the Atlanta Police Foundation. At least two protesters were detained and one arrested as police charged and tackled people as they were dispersing.

At around 7:15 PM, a ‘March for the Forest’ gathered in Gresham Park before marching towards a closed Intrenchment Creek Park and ‘Cop City’ construction before making a tactical decision to turn around rather than be confronted by masses of police.

Day 6: Clergy Demand Release of Indigenous Climate Activist Victor Puertas from ICE Detention

On Thursday afternoon, clergymembers and supporters rallied outside Stewart Detention Center in Lumpkin, GA while faith leaders visited Victor Puertas. Puertas has been held on domestic terrorism charges since his arrest at the South River Music Festival on March 5.

Originally held in DeKalb County Jail, he was denied bond for 90 days after his arrest. Once he was released, he was taken into ICE custody and now faces deportation. No evidence introduced against Puertas in Georgia courts have yet proven anything other than his presence at the March 5 music festival.

Video released yesterday by the Atlanta Community Press Collective shows that extreme police brutality occurred during his arrest, with officers repeatedly tasing Puertas — once in the back and once while he was prone on the ground — and placed him in a chokehold.

‘Stop Cop City’ Week of Action Day 7: Cadence Bank ‘Drop The Loan’ Protest, Panel on Overpolicing

The ‘Week of Action’ against ‘Cop City’ continued Friday with a protest outside the offices of Cadence Bank in Midtown Atlanta, which is providing a construction loan to the Atlanta Police Foundation for the building of ‘Cop City.’ Friday evening, a panel hosted by ‘Hip Hop Caucus’ discussed the past and present of overpolicing — from Atlanta’s militarized Red Dog Unit to ‘Cop City.’

Unicorn Riot's coverage on the movement to defend the Atlanta Forest:

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