Cop City – Good idea or Yikes?

Posted on April 4, 2023

After the eye-opening events of 2020 between George Floyd, Breonna Taylor,  Duncan Lemp, and so many others, it became apparent that the people trained to protect us were doing the opposite. Some protestors wanted the end of police, while some didn’t know what we wanted. They just knew the status quo wasn’t the answer. Unfortunately, not much has changed with the police since 2020 that is visible to the masses. Qualified Immunity is still the law of the land, No-Knock raids have only been limited in some areas, and innocent people are still dying at the hands of the police.

Protesters sit at the intersection of James Street and 4th Avenue in Downtown Seattle, in front of Seattle City Hall, as part of the George Floyd protests. Author : SounderBruce

The city of Atlanta decided to remedy the disconnect between the citizens and the police, they would provide more training and began negotiations to build a training facility for police and first responders. Land in the Weelaunee Forest was secured for this facility, and this is where everything starts going downhill.

The Weelaunee Forest was guaranteed to remain a public park in perpetuity. This land is considered 1 of the 4 lungs of Atlanta, was identified as greenspace for a predominately black community and has remains from the Muscogee Creek native people within its forests. This land should have never been an option.

Although Atlanta may have had good intentions, the backroom negotiations to get this land started protests from the Defend the Forest organizations, the Muscogee people, and local activists. The Defend, the Forest activists, occupied the forest, and police would regularly come through and remove them, damage their belongings, and arrest the protestors.

On January 17th, Manuel Esteban Paez Terán, aka Tortuguita, a Defend the Forest protestor, was shot and killed by police. And this is where it hits rock bottom.

At the time of the shooting, the Defend the Forest organization and Tortuguita’s family demanded to have an outside investigation. However, the Georgia Bureau of Investigation declined and did its own investigation. Their investigation found that Tortuguita shot at police, and they returned fire in self-defense. His family and friends say he was committed to a life of nonviolence and the protection of the earth. He was not someone who would own a gun or even use it. An autopsy ordered by the family reported that his hands were up when he was shot.

There is no body cam footage.

Stop Cop City protests in Atlanta on January 22, 2023 Author: Tatsoi

After his death, mass protests began around Atlanta, and some escalated into riots.

The trust between police and the people was already shaky at best – now it has been severed. The goal of the training facility (Cop city) was to train officers to save lives, stop crime, and build community trust. With the increased militarization of police and the death of so many innocent lives, Cop City only brings about fear.

Transparency and accountability are needed to repair the relationship between the police and citizens. But, until then, battles like those over Cop City will continue.