‘Cop City’ Protesters Visit Nationwide Insurance

Scottsdale, AZ — “I’m here in an official capacity, representing Nationwide,” said a protester in a blue wig and a skintight blue acrylic body suit. She wore placards strung across her shoulders with hand-painted replicas of the Nationwide logo on the front and back of her body.

Her voice was muffled by the suit, which covered her entire face, hands, and probably feet. She peered out through eye holes it looked like she’d cut herself.

“This insurance contract I’ve signed with Cop City is just not worth it from a business perspective,” she explained. “And also because I’m going against the wishes of the people and the Earth.” 

The Atlanta Police Foundation’s proposed urban warfare campus popularly derided as ‘Cop City’ is tied to the first known U.S. police killing of a climate activist — Manuel ‘Tortuguita’ Paez Terán was shot and killed by Georgia State Patrol outside the proposed ‘Cop City’ site in the South River Forest on January 18, 2023. Police initially claimed Terán shot an officer, however an independent autopsy indicates they were sitting cross-legged with their hands up in the air when shot.

Georgia authorities have gone to unprecedented lengths to repress opposition to the project — charging dozens of protesters under a rarely used domestic terrorism statute and arresting three organizers of a bail fund providing legal aid to activists, charging them with money laundering and charity fraud over what appear to be ordinary expense reimbursements.

Moments before, standing outside the corporate offices of Scottsdale Insurance, a subsidiary of Nationwide Insurance, the protester in the blue wig had done mock battle with another in a tree costume—complete with a crown of fronds and a homemade bark-textured mask. After Nationwide was defeated, the two had joined in tearing up a huge piece of paper with the words “Insurance Contract to Build Cop City” on the top. A group of about 20 others cheered, honked their horns and played kazoos in celebration.

The performance was part of a protest held Thursday by members of the Tucson, Phoenix, and Flagstaff chapters of the Weelaunee Defense Society, a national network of individuals and groups organized in solidarity with the Stop Cop City movement in Atlanta.

Actual representatives of Scottsdale Insurance and Nationwide Insurance did not respond to requests for comment via their media line and refused to speak with a Unicorn Riot reporter during the protest.

A protester claiming to be a representative of Nationwide Insurance is handed an insurance contract by a tree from the Weelaunee Forest in Atlanta during a performance outside the Nationwide headquarters in Scottsdale, Arizona Thursday. Photo by Ryan Fatica for Unicorn Riot.

“We’re out here telling Nationwide to drop the contract that they have with the Atlanta Police Foundation,” a representative of the Weelaunee Defense Society in a cat mask told me. She explained that the group opposed the project in an effort “to defend the Weelaunee Forest and the watershed and to defend the people of Atlanta from police militarization.”

Other representatives of the group, one wearing a dog mask and cowboy boots and another in a deer mask clapping an orange noisemaker nodded their heads in agreement.

Nationwide Insurance, and its Scottsdale-based subsidiary, became a target of the Stop Cop City movement earlier this year when public records requests revealed that the company had signed a liability insurance contract with the Atlanta Police Foundation for the controversial and unpopular construction project in unincorporated DeKalb County, southeast of Atlanta. The Cop City project would train officers from across the country and around the world in militarized policing tactics.

A protester claiming to be a representative of Nationwide Insurance stabs a person in a dog mask with a foam sword during a performance outside the Nationwide headquarters in Scottsdale, Arizona Thursday. Photo by Ryan Fatica for Unicorn Riot.

The demonstration in Scottsdale was part of a larger national day of action against Nationwide Insurance, Brasfield and Gorrie, the general contractor of the Cop City project, and Cadence Bank, a major lender to the project. Defense Society chapters in Savannah, GeorgiaBloomington, Indiana, Los Angeles, California, Columbus, Ohio, and Charlotte, North Carolina also held protests. The Portland, Oregon chapter held a discussion and question and answer session on the Stop Cop City movement and the Tucson, Arizona chapter also held a letter writing and call-in campaign.

View the Scottsdale Insurance/Nationwide Insurance contract with the Atlanta Police Foundation below:


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