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Nov 14, 23

Police Attack Protesters As Hundreds March Against Cop City in Atlanta, Halt Construction

Press release on recent mobilization against Cop City in so-called Atlanta that was attacked by police. Originally posted to Stop Cop City on social media.

Atlanta, GA – On Monday morning, a bold and joyful procession of roughly 500 people marched along a public road to the proposed Cop City construction site. Holding banners and giant puppets, and accompanied by drummers and a brass band, Block Cop City activists reclaimed Atlanta’s rich civil rights legacy from politicians who continue to tarnish it with every voter disenfranchised and each tear gas canister thrown. Despite the violent response by police, activists minimized arrests and harm through careful planning, extensive preparation, and close attention to lessons learned from generations of revolutionary struggles against repression and authoritarianism.

The march began with a festive gathering in Gresham Park where participants adopted an explicit commitment to nonviolence and heard from Kamau Franklin (Executive Director of Atlanta-based Community Movement Builders) and Joel Paez (father of Tortuguita, a forest defender murdered by police in the forest in January).

“Now is not a time for cowardice. You are either with the oppressed or with the oppressors. You are either with the people or the pigs. You cannot stand in the middle. You cannot be on both sides. You cannot close your eyes to the terror of policing that happens in this world,” stated Kamau Franklin. “We are going to continue defending the forest. We are going to continue defending the legacy of Tortuguita. We are family. You are my family,” said Joel Paez.

Once the march was underway it took less than an hour for the police to declare it illegal, just as they did in 1965 during the March from Selma to Montgomery. Despite numerous stated commitments from religious leaders and city officials to honor the right to protest, armed riot police terrorized the crowd with tear gas grenades, attack dogs, clubs and ballistic shields.

“We just witnessed overt violations of our civil rights on a road named after the U.S. Constitution. Atlanta claims itself to be a civil rights hub, but it erases its own legacy when protests arise that confront the power of politicians and police. The police’s violence against protestors today affirms our belief that Cop City must never be built,” said Mary Hooks, field secretary for the Movement for Black Lives

As other protestors took to planting tree saplings in the Weelaunee Forest, journalists were forcibly separated from the crowd and threatened with arrest by police. We condemn this infringement of these journalists’ rights as well as the arrest of protestors including the Indigenous activists arrested while visiting Tortuguita’s altar in the Weelaunee Forest over the weekend.

The movement to Stop Cop City and Defend the Atlanta Forest is undeterred by today’s police aggression and is planning a press conference and vigil at the Dekalb County Jail at 8PM. Additional vigils were also held at the Atlanta City Detention Center and Rice Street Fulton County Jail where arraigned RICO defendants are expected to be released on Monday.

Sam Beard, Block Cop City spokesperson stated, “The City of Atlanta’s actions against this movement under the leadership of Andre Dickens have been draconian but we remain committed to the opposite: building a world free of police violence and repression where all of us can thrive.”

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