Filed under: Event, Featured, Repression, Solidarity
Across the US, people held vigils to mourn the police murder of forest defender, Manuel Teran, 26, also known as Tortuguita, on Wednesday, January 18th and to rally in solidarity with the struggle against the destruction of the Weelaunee forest and the construction of the counter-insurgency training facility known as “Cop City.” As Unicorn Riot wrote:
A protester was shot and killed by police Wednesday morning, January 18, in the midst of a multi-jurisdictional raid on the Atlanta Forest, also known as the Weelaunee Forest, in DeKalb County, southeast of Atlanta.
The identity of the protester is currently unknown. A Georgia State Trooper was reportedly also shot during the raid and is currently undergoing surgery at Grady Memorial Hospital, according to police. At least three other protesters were reportedly arrested during the raid and were charged with “aggravated assault on a public safety officer” and “domestic terrorism.”
A forest defender, who was present during the raid and spoke with Unicorn Riot under conditions of anonymity, reported hearing 10-12 gunshots all at once followed by a loud boom.
The Georgia Bureau of Investigation, which is leading the investigation into the incident, said that the killing occurred after police were fired on by the protester. Protesters, however, have questioned this narrative, “calling on legal observers and journalists” to launch an independent investigation of the incident.
“Since June 6, 2022, activists and community members fighting to Defend the Atlanta Forest and Stop Cop City have been demanding that officers stop bringing weapons into the forest after APD pointed their weapons at peaceful protestors,” said the Atlanta Community Press Collective in a press release.
Recap of the day: Multi-agency raid of Weelaunee Forest. Police murdered a forest defender, continued raid as though nothing happened. Police story changes throughout the day, contradicts accounts from neighbors of the forest and forest defenders. Huge vigil takes to the streets.
— Atlanta Community Press Collective (@atlanta_press) January 19, 2023
As the New York Times reported:
Activists with the Defend the Atlanta Forest effort have challenged the official account and argued that no activists fired upon officers. The Atlanta Solidarity Fund, an organization providing legal support to activists, said it was planning to pursue “a vigorous legal strategy” to examine the circumstances surrounding the protester’s death. “We are committed to finding out what actually happened,” said Marlon Kautz, an organizer with the Solidarity Fund.
Critics said the [Cop City] project would disturb an expanse of green space and disrupt the community around it. “People don’t want gunfire and bomb detonations to be the soundtrack of their neighborhood,” Bentley Hudgins, a local organizer who lives nearby, said while attending a vigil for the protester on Wednesday.
At the time of this writing, despite predictable claims by law enforcement that they were fired upon and responded in kind out of self-defense, police have yet to produce video evidence. As one local news report wrote:
Activists have questioned the police version of events and called for the release of law enforcement body camera footage. However, GBI public affairs director Nelly Miles informed WABE Thursday evening that there is no body camera footage of the incident.
Another report from Rolling Stone stated:
DAF activists were instantly critical of the GBI’s account, claiming there was “reason to believe” the officer was hit by friendly fire, not shot by the protester, pointing to reports by other forest defenders who heard one burst of gunshots not consistent with an exchange of fire. The Atlanta Solidarity Fund, a nonprofit organization that provides arrested activists with bail money, jail support, and access to legal representation, wrote in a statement that it was “preparing a legal team to investigate and pursue a wrongful death suit.”
“Georgia State Police has not released body camera footage or meaningful details, and we are concerned a police cover-up could be underway,” the Atlanta Solidarity Fund wrote.
“We know that Georgia Police regularly and consistently lie about the conditions under which they shoot and kill people, and that the ‘facts’ will frequently change to justify police action, no matter how murderous or egregious,” DAF said in a Twitter DM. “No matter what they do, police will always claim to be the actual victims.”
Since the police murder of Tortuguita, there have been vigils, marches, banner drops and rallies in solidarity, with more events planned over the coming days. Below you will find a roundup of expressions of solidarity with the ongoing struggle in Atlanta and a list of upcoming events. This post will be updated, so check back and email us at info [at] itsgoingdown [dot] org if we missed anything.
Roundup of Solidarity
Olympia, WA: People held a vigil and rally with banners at a local park on January 18th.
Portland, OR: Vigils organized with banners and signs on January 18th.
Eugene, OR: Vigil with banners organized on January 20th.
Boise, ID: Vigil with banners organized on January 20th.
Arcata, CA: Vigil organized in solidarity on January 21st.
Oakland, CA: People gathered for a vigil event with flags, banners, and literature on January 19th. Direct action targets Bank of America on January 20th.
Vigil tonight in Oakland in solidarity with Defend Atlanta Forest movement. Manuel Teran – Tortuguita – was killed by police in Atlanta Wednesday. pic.twitter.com/f2SWLhoXOf
— Supriya Yelimeli (@SupriyaYelimeli) January 20, 2023
Berkeley, CA: Vigil organized at People’s Park on January 20th.
We held a vigil for Tortuguita, slain by police while defending the Atlanta Forest in #PeoplesPark tonight. Our hearts, solidarity, and rage are with @defendATLforest. Your movement is our movement. No #CopCity! Let 1000 Parks Bloom! pic.twitter.com/qziTlJloH2
— Mama Lisa (@LisTeague) January 21, 2023
Sacramento, CA: Graffiti written in solidarity.
Santa Cruz, CA: Vigil organized in solidarity.
Los Angeles, CA: Vigil gathers with banners on January 18th. Vigil organized on January 22nd.
Greetings! An impromptu vigil has been constructed in West LA for a protester who was fatally shot by LEOs.
One “Cop City” protester was fatally shot and a Georgia state trooper was wounded near the site of “Cop City,” a proposed law enforcement training center near Atlanta. pic.twitter.com/o6Tp5PhEsX
— Sean Beckner-Carmitchel (@ACatWithNews) January 19, 2023
San Diego, CA: Vigil organized in solidarity.
Tucson, AZ: Banners dropped in solidarity.
Boulder, CO: Rally at Wells Fargo to demand divestment from Cop City project.
Austin, TX: Large vigil organized in solidarity on January 21st.
Thanks to everyone who came out tonight to celebrate the life of Tortuguita and pledge vengeance to Cop City. pic.twitter.com/H7eNlkA3DH
— Stop The Sweeps ATX (@stop_sweeps_atx) January 22, 2023
San Antonio, TX: Vigil organized in solidarity.
Lincoln, NB: Vigil organized on January 20th.
Chicago, IL: Rally and vigil held on January 20th.
— Puff the Magic Hater 🦣 (@MsKellyMHayes) January 21, 2023
Madison, WI: Vigil organized in solidarity.
Minneapolis, MN: Banner dropped on January 18th and on January 20th, a vigil was organized with speakers and banners. Large march takes place on 21st.
— UNICORN RIOT 🦄 mastodon.social/@UnicornRiot 👈 (@UR_Ninja) January 21, 2023
Ypsilanti, MI: Vigil organized on January 20th.
Pontiac, MI: Vigil organized on January 20th.
Knoxville, TN: Graffiti written in solidarity.
Nashville, TN: Vigil organized on January 21st.
St. Louis, MI: Vigil organized in solidarity on January 21st.
Cincinnati, OH: Vigil organized in solidarity.
Savannah, GA: Vigil organized on January 18th.
Atlanta, GA: Vigil turns into rally downtown and then takes to the streets on January 18th. On January 20th, a vigil is also organized at People’s Park in the Weelaunee forest. Militant march takes to streets on January 21st.
— Defend the Atlanta Forest (@defendATLforest) January 21, 2023
South Carolina: Vigil organized on a campus on January 18th.
Charlotte, NC: Vigil organized on January 20th.
Asheville, NC: Vigil organized on January 19th.
Miami, FL: Vigil organized on January 21st.
Orlando, FL: Vigil organized on January 21st.
Tampa, FL: Vigil organized in solidarity on January 21st.
Washington DC: Banner drop in solidarity.
Richmond, VA: Vigil organized in solidarity on January 21st.
Pictures from the vigil for Tortuguita in Richmond. The crowd has now dispersed without incident. pic.twitter.com/apKoyQBAYc
— Goad Gatsby (@GoadGatsby) January 22, 2023
Philadelphia, PA: Vigil and march organized on January 21st.
Boston, MA: Banners dropped in solidarity.
Lowell, MA: Vigil organized in solidarity.
New Jersey: Graffiti mural in solidarity on January 20th.
Brooklyn, NY: Vigil organized on January 20th.
New York City, NY: Vigil organized on January 18th and rally on January 20th and 21st.
— Eric Adams is a Fascist (@peoplesmedianyc) January 19, 2023
Graffiti in NYC in memory of Manuel Teran aka Tortuguita, an Atlanta Forest defender who was shot and killed by cops on Wednesday.
The Atlanta city council plans to clear the forest to build a massive police training facility dubbed "Cop City". pic.twitter.com/4W0ZaBPcJ8
— Radical Graffiti (@GraffitiRadical) January 22, 2023
Providence, RI: Graffiti written in solidarity with Tortuguita.
Friday, January 20th:
Saturday, January 21st:
Sunday, January 22nd:
Tuesday, January 24th: