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Sep 9, 23

Demonstrations in Solidarity With ‘Stop Cop City’ Activists Facing Repression Spread

In the wake of Georgia’s Attorney General Chris Carr moving to indict 61 Stop Cop City activists on RICO charges, including those who were arrested at a concert in the Weelaunee forest in support of the movement, handing out flyers with information on the police officer who shot and killed Manuel “Tortuguita” Teran, and those involved in a local bail-fund, supporters have been taking action in solidarity with those facing repression and continuing the struggle on the ground.

As Unicorn Riot wrote:

The indictments were handed down by a grand jury last week but only made public this morning after being discovered by the Atlanta Community Press Collective. The same grand jury also indicted five individuals on Domestic Terrorism charges and indicted three Atlanta Solidarity Fund activists on 15 counts each of money laundering.

“Defend the Atlanta Forest is a self-identified coalition and enterprise of militant anarchists, eco-activists, and community organizers,” the indictment reads.

“Based in Atlanta, this anarchist, anti-police, and environmental activism organization coordinates, advertises, and conducts ‘direct action’ designed to prevent the construction of the Atlanta Police Public Safety Training Center and Shadowbox Studios (previously known as Blackhall Studios) and promote anarchist ideas.”

Georgia Attorney General Chris Carr’s office is prosecuting the cases, which are filed in Fulton County, where Atlanta is the county seat.

The indictment even includes a short history on anarchism and anarchist organizing principles, at least as the prosecutors understand them. The narrative entitled “Anarchy Background of the Defend the Atlanta Forest” reads like a high school book report on the history of anarchism and is reminiscent of political prosecutions of activists and radicals such as the Haymarket anarchists, Sacco and Vanzetti, and prosecutions during the Red Scare.

The “major factor in anarchist mutual aid,” explained Georgia prosecutors, “is the absence of government and the absence of hierarchy. Indeed, an anarchist belief relies on the notion that once government is abolished, individuals will rely on mutual aid to exist. In doing so, anarchists believe that individuals will work together and voluntarily contribute their own resources to insure that each individual has its own needs met.”

Prosecutors also explained, at length, that “the anarchist ideology” also includes violence, including violence targeting law enforcement. The indictment did not include any statistics about the number of people believed to have been harmed or killed by anarchists. The number of people killed each year by law enforcement, on the other hand, is well known.

Prosecutors list May 25, 2020, the day that George Floyd was murdered by Minneapolis Police Officer Derek Chauvin, as the beginning of the alleged “Defend the Atlanta Forest Enterprise.” Prosecutors say that the national movement that emerged following Floyd’s murder also gave birth to the #StopCopCity movement.

Those indicted include many people previously charged for their participation in the movement, including those previously charged with domestic terrorism, three individuals previously charged with distributing fliers in Bartow County, Georgia, several people arrested during a rowdy protest outside the Cobb County offices of contractor Brasfield & Gorrie, and those charged with money laundering for their work with the Atlanta Solidarity Fund, among others. The list of indictments also includes several people who have not previously been charged in connection with the movement.

The RICO charges have been denounced by a wide range of civil liberties and activist organizations, ranging from the American Civil Liberties Union to the Civil Liberties Defense Center. In a statement from the National Lawyers Guild:

These indictments, filed by Georgia Attorney General Chris Carr, aim to quell the growing, massive public movement to bring an end to the construction of a military police training facility in the Atlanta Forest, and to use RICO, domestic terrorism and money laundering charges to portray a popular movement as an unlawful conspiracy.

The attacks on the movement against Cop City mirrors the Red Scare of the late 1910’s, where the US government utilized the police, military, and violent squads of vigilantes to put down and crush groups like the Industrial Workers of the World (IWW) in the face of rising anti-war sentiment, labor militancy, and general strikes. IWW organizers like Frank Little were assassinated by hit squads including off duty police officers, the military was even used to put down strikes and root out IWW organizers, many of whom were rounded up and put on trial simply for holding anti-capitalist beliefs.

IWW supporters hold solidarity fundraiser for “Class War Prisoners”

Here’s a roundup of demonstrations and actions in solidarity with those facing repression in Atlanta. Also, check out a printable zine version of a recent CrimethInc. report on the charges here. We will continue to update this post in the coming days.

Atlanta, GA: On Friday, September 8th, local faith leaders and community members locked down to equipment at the Cop City construction site, halting construction while unfurling banners.

A report from the Atlanta Community Press Collective on the work stoppage protest read:

Thursday morning a group of Cop City activists invoked a “people’s stop work order” and chained themselves to equipment at the construction site for the proposed Atlanta Safety Public Training Center, more commonly known as Cop City.

“This is a war happening against protesters,” Ayeola Omolara Kaplan, one of the five activists arrested, said via written statement. “If we don’t stand up for our right to protest now, standing up in the future will be vain. Cop City is in the process of being built, and this can only continue if we allow it.”

When asked about the potential for life-altering felony charges for shutting down the construction site, Jaanaki Radhakrishnan, an organizer with the Student Coalition to Stop Cop City, expressed faith in her fellow activists and concern over the potential police response. “I trust that they have themselves together, that they know what they’re doing,” said Radhakrishnan as the caravan moved toward the construction site. “There’s always that you never know what the State is going to do, but they got it.”

A banner dropped in Atlanta read: “Resistance Does Not Equal Terrorism.”

Community Movement builders and other groups also rallied in front of the Georgia State Capitol, demanding that the charges be dropped.

Lansing, MI: Members of the grad state union marched and held a rally demanding that, “Accident Fund…stop insuring the construction of Cop City. Cut the contract!”

Kingston, NY: In the Hudson Valley, “In Solidarity with Atlanta and all occupied peoples and places, Hudson Valley activists gathered in Kingston tonight holding a vigil for victims of state violence followed by a demonstration and infoshare about what’s going on with Cop City and the struggle against military occupation locally and abroad.”

Carbondale, IL: Supporters rallied outside of the local “Safety Center” in Carbondale, IL. “Bailing out our friends is not a crime! Doing mutual aid is not a crime! Being an anarchist is not a crime! Till they are all free we will keep fighting to stop cop city!”

Minneapolis, MN: Graffiti went up against Cop City and to free Victor Puertas, “who is currently being held at Stewart Detention Center (SDC).”

Phoenix, AZ: Supporters held a rally in solidarity with those facing charges. One report wrote:

In Phoenix, a demo organized by Weelaunee Defense Society activists led the Scottsdale PD to block off the entrances to the complex containing the Nationwide offices.

Elliston, VA: Community members fighting the Mountain Valley Pipeline (MVP) halted construction equipment and displayed a banner in solidarity with those facing repression in Atlanta. “Two pipeline fighters have locked themselves to MVP equipment near a boring site under the Bradshaw Creek and Bradshaw Road in eastern Montgomery County.

Charlotte, NC: Rally outside of Bank of America against their investment in Cop City project and to call for the dropping of all charges.

Chicago, IL: Protesters in Chicago, “…stopped traffic, took over the train, and brought all the youth power to the Windy City,” while holding banner denouncing the Cop City project. A Chase bank and several other corporate buildings were also vandalized with anti-Cop City graffiti slogans and had their windows busted out.

Olympia, WA: According to a communique posted to Puget Sound Anarchists, an Arby’s fast-food restaurant was tagged with graffiti and had its windows broken out. According to the claim of responsibility:

This target was chosen as CEO Paul Brown of its owning and franchising company, Inspire Brands LLC, sits on the board of directors of the Atlanta Police Foundation (APF) who are behind the funding and political push for the urban warfare training ground and mass deforestation project known as Cop City. We take this small action against Cop City and its world and send love to those resisting the beast of police militarization in ATL.

Portland, OR: Banner drop in solidarity with #StopCopCity movement.

Chapel Hill, NC: Rally at the UNC campus to drop the charges against forest defenders. Check Instagram for more updates.

Columbus, OH: From Instagram:

Our activists crashed @nationwide ‘s booth at Ohio State University’s career fair to remind them to drop the Cop City contract. We set up next to them to display our banner that reads “Nationwide, drop Cop City!” and our sign that says “Nationwide funds homicide!”

We also handed out a ton of our pamphlets and copies of our community demands to students. No hate to the people working the booth – we just hope your employer does the right thing!

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