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Feb 20, 23

Georgia Tech Students Rally and March Against Cop City in Atlanta, GA

Report back from recent march against Cop City organized on the Georgia Tech campus in so-called Atlanta, GA. For more info about the ongoing week of action, go here.

photo: @atldemsoc

On February 10th 2023, a demonstration was held at Georgia Tech against Cop City and in remembrance of Tyre Nichols, Manuel “Tortuguita” Paez-Teran, and all the others lost to police brutality. Around 150 Tech students converged on Skiles Walkway by Tech Green to speak out against the project, as well as share their own experiences with police brutality.

Students mentioned racist police stops, the trauma of continuous exposure to police murders, and their awareness of Tech’s contributions to global imperialism as well as police militarization. Students cheered and booed loudly with passion and rage that felt electric, shared poetry, and philosophical analyses. One student shared a metaphor: “In Taekwondo, when one is breaking boards, one must punch through the board to something greater, not just hit the board itself hoping it breaks.”

A student spoke about Scout Schultz, the former president of a Tech LGBT club; they were murdered by Tech Police in 2017 while unarmed and in the midst of a mental health crisis. Many students in the crowd were unaware that GTPD had killed a student just 6 years earlier and were shocked at the realization that this fact has been hidden from them by the school.

Kamau Franklin from Community Movement Builders spoke on the importance of student organizing and how Atlanta college students had an important and crucial voice in the movement – it’s not possible for the powers at be to call them “outside agitators.”

Students held up probably 50 different signs, which produced an overwhelming visual effect on students passing. Signs included “To Hell with Cop City” and “Bust their ass, no cop city,” (both references to the schools fight song,) “Buzz off 12”, “Cops Murder We Fight Back,” “Militarizing Police Makes it worse,” “Viva Tortuguita,” “Tech Engineers Refuse Racism,” “Stand Up Fight,” and “Promote Peace, Challenge Police.”

After a few hours of speeches, the 50 or so people remaining in the crowd began shouting to form a march through the school. The crowd strategized amongst themselves, and the march moved toward the CULC student study building. Several GTPD officers scrambled to block the doors to the building, forming anxious faces at the approaching students. Rather than face a confrontation in a tight doorway, the students continued up the stairs, loudly chanting, “Fuck Cop City!” The march continued up the steps of Skiles, and officers could be seen through the glass running up the halls to the front door of Price Gilbert Library. The march huddled by the front of the library and considered entering, when the same contingent of cops started bursting through the door to guard the entrance. Students yelled, “Fuck you pigs!” and other anti-cop sentiment, which the police seemed actually shocked to hear at such a conservative school. The collective power of the students was palpable – witnesses to the march were not giggling or joking – they looked on with solemnity, and the police were on edge and under-prepared.

Clearly the school was completely unaware that the march be would this large, this passionate, and this willing to explore collective possibilities. The march continued past the tiny door to the library, still chanting “Fuck cop city,” “Fuck 12,” and “Jackets fight back!” Dozens of students got up from their studies to observe the march going past the glass of the library; students later said they could hear the march on the 7th floor. The march continued all the way to West Campus, chanting “Trees give life, Police take it!”

Amongst the crowd, numerous ideas of where the march could travel were circulated. One student suggested going to the police station, others suggested going to the presidents mansion or Tech Tower. Both were ruled out due to the significantly long distance, and the march returned to Tech Green after chanting loudly outside of the West Campus student dining hall. There was no police presence at all on West Campus, showing that the Tech police were highly unprepared for this action.

This march was significant in that it marked a more militant energy that has not been seen at GA Tech (an elite public university of 18,000 students) since the killing of Scout Schultz, and before that, not since the Vietnam War.

-Ana Is

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