Report from Scenes from the Atlanta Forest on defense of Weelaunce People’s Park during the recent week of action in Atlanta, GA.
On the final day of the fourth week of action, forest defenders awoke to shouts about police activity in the recently reopened Intrenchment Creek/Weelaunee People’s Park parking lot.
We arrived to find an angry man named Anthony Wayne James sitting in an excavator and threatening to destroy the gazebo, porta potties, paved trails, and to re-close the barriers at the front of the park, effectively re-closing the public infrastructure. A small number of forest defenders blocked the excavator with only their bodies, including a few who remained under the gazebo while it was struck by the excavator bucket.
More forest defenders soon arrived and began to drive back the excavator with rocks and other projectiles. The irate operator had two Dekalb County police officers to back him up, as well as two other men waiting on the street. It was soon revealed that one of those was Ryan Millsap himself. Millsap believes he is the owner of the land in question, after a controversial land-swap agreement between the Dekalb County government and Blackhall Studios sought to give the land over to the film company so that they could develop it into the largest soundnstage complex on Earth. Millsap has since sold much of his holdings in the company in a fashion that nullifies the agreements with the County government and gives, he believes, Millsap personal ownership of the land with few or no obligations to the public.
New Video: Contractor's Truck Set on Fire by Atlanta Forest Protectors🎞️ pic.twitter.com/KIsEoBDMNr
— Unicorn Riot (@UR_Ninja) August 8, 2022
After a brief interlude, in which forest defenders oriented themselves, the crowd of a few dozen advanced on the attackers. Masked defenders threw rocks at the County police and broke windows out of the truck that was used to carry the excavator in on a flatbed trailer. With the excavator outside the park, a barricade was erected to keep it from re-entering, and volleys of rocks and canned sparkling water kept the police and workers back. Ryan Millsap fled in another vehicle after he was called out by name. When the windows of the excavator were broken, Anthony Wayne James reappeared and repeatedly threatened to shoot all the forest defenders and motioned as if he had a gun several times. Millsap appeared to oversea all of this from a distance. Undeterred by his threats, defenders held the barricades and drove the attackers all the way to the end of the block.
Ryan Milsap’s Tow Truck Destroyed in Weelaunee People’s Park
— Scenes from the Atlanta Forest (@scenesatl) August 2, 2022
With the immediate threat gone, a search through the truck left in the parking lot revealed a number of contracts for Blackhall Studios, Blackhall Rental Company, Anthony Wayne James drivers license and numerous credit cards. The registration for the vehicle revealed that it was owned personally by Ryan Millsap himself. A great cheer of delight went up after this news was spread, and the mechanic crew stripped the car completely, damaging each and every component of the Ram 5500 that was purchased for $62,500 by Millsap in 2020. The crowd dispersed, having assured the safety of park attendees, and the sanctity of the land. A few hours later, some anonymous individuals burned the truck.
Ryan Milsap’s bulldozer, guarded by cops, early this morning before they attacked people standing inside the gazebo of the park. An anonymous source claims that the bulldozer bucket “went right over my head.”#StoptheSwap#DefendWeelaunee pic.twitter.com/QAJNQgepab
— Autonomous News: Atlanta (@AutonomousATL) July 30, 2022
After being held through the morning to ensure no re-entry for the police or Millsap and his goons, the barricade was dismantled and the park was open again to the public. By evening, hundreds of people arrived to the forest for the final night of an autonomously organized music festival, passing through the barriers and past the burned-out vehicle, which became something of a public installation and photographic back-drop.
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