The Atlanta Public Safety Training Center, known as Cop City, is a plan to build the largest police training facility in the United States. The project threatens over 300 acres of the South River Forest, also known by its Muskogee name, Weelaunee. The proposed facility includes a mock city for police to train in urban warfare and protest control tactics. The South River Forest, which is surrounded by primarily Black neighborhoods, has been described by environmental groups as Atlanta's "best hope for resilience against the worst impacts of climate change."
Support for the movement to Defend the Atlanta Forest and Stop Cop City is at an all time high. For the first time in the 186 year municipal history of the city of Atlanta, voters have collected enough petition signatures to get a referendum on the ballot. Over 116,000 Atlanta's have signed in support of the referendum initiative. It is not an exaggeration to say that Cop City is the least popular project in the storied history of Atlanta.
However, Atlanta Mayor Andre Dickens' efforts to suppress Atlanta voters have succeeded in delaying the referendum, potentially until the March 2024 election. With a shameless contempt for democracy, his administration continues to mount legal challenges against the referendum in court, aiming to suppress the voice of the Atlanta people entirely.
Meanwhile, the Atlanta Police Foundation is racing to illegally build Cop City with or without a stop work order. The March ballot may come too late. We know that mass civil disobedience is an unquestionable force of the Peoples' Power, and it is only the power of the people that can #StopCopCity.
Early on Monday, November 13, a large, determined group will make their way into the Weelaunee Forest and the Cop City construction site, and will non-violently halt construction. By shutting down construction, we will open up new possibilities. Machines will become murals, the clearcut wasteland will be filled with art and music, and we will take the first steps of a long healing process by planting trees wherever they've been cut. We will come prepared to stay the entire day. When it is time to leave, the crowd will do so together. We will adhere to the group agreements that were decided upon beforehand and be well-prepared to stick together and protect one another from potential police violence, and we will Block Cop City.
Participants are encouraged to organize themselves into affinity groups prior to the action. An affinity group can be made up of close friends, coworkers, neighbors, or anybody else with whom you feel trust and affinity. Each group should be kept small enough to allow for the greatest degree of intimacy between those who compose it. People often express their opinions, emotions, and goals best in small groups of trusted friends.
The purpose of forming affinity groups is to prepare together for the action. Members should discuss honestly amongst themselves the risks they are willing to take and the roles they might want to take on during the action; what they hope to accomplish and what they might be worried about; and how they might respond to different situations that might occur during the action. They should try to train, roleplay, and, if possible, scout together. The more prepared and informed each individual and affinity group, the better our changes of success.
A spokes-council of affinity groups will meet in the lead up to the action.
The action is being organized by the Block Cop City Coalition, a broad group of activists, forest defenders and organizers who have been with the movement from the very start. Block Cop City is being planned by frontline communities and has the support of friends of the forest from across the United States. The depth and breadth of engagement is a testament to the diversity of this movement — clergy members, parents and teachers, young people, racial justice organizations, autonomous groups of abolitionists and forest defenders of all stripes. We are united in our commitment to defend the Weelaunee Forest and block the construction of Cop City.
Check back soon for more details.
We are working to arrange housing options for everyone coming into town. A number of religious and activist communities have generously offered to open their doors to provide a place to stay for out-of-towners. We encourage those with the means to make their own arrangements if possible. We are confident that everyone who wants to participate in this historic action will have a comfortable place to sleep!
This action will employ non-violent tactics not because we accept the state's false dichotomy of legitimate and illegitimate protest, but rather, because we believe that a commitment to non-violent tactics will best allow us to stick together and overcome the police's attempt to isolate and divide us.
It is the strength of the movement that has secured the overwhelming support of people from all walks of life using all methods of resistance. However, today the movement is at a crossroads. Though it is more popular than ever and has captured the imagination of millions around the world, it also faces unprecedented levels of state repression. We have an opportunity to defeat this repression by scaling up. Choosing strategic non-violence for this action can encourage the broadest array of participation by mitigating potential risks and open up new horizons in the movement.
Risk is inherent in any protest that effectively challenges the decisions of police, corporations, or elected officials. This includes the risk of arrest and the risk of police brutality.
Though we cannot predict the actions of the police with certainty, a well-crafted action plan will mitigate the effects of repression and create a situation in which further unprovoked police violence will grow, rather than silence, the movement.
Over the course of the struggle against Cop City, police have consistently attempted to suppress the movement through terror and fear, but they have been unable to quell the movement because of the unshakeable unity and solidarity of its participants. In the context of protests, police violence and politically motivated charges most often occur when the police single out a small number of protestors. It is far more difficult for the police to arrest, apply politically motivated charges, or inflict violence on a crowd that stands together.
Despite the risks, we believe strategic non-violent direct action and a commitment to 1) a collectively-developed action plan, 2) sticking together during the action, and 3) non-cooperation with the police, will keep us all as safe as possible.
And, of course, we recognize that the risk of inaction is far greater.
COP CITY WILL BE DEFEATED