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May 21, 22

This Is America #167: Kamau Franklin on the Fight to Defend the Atlanta Forest and Beyond

Welcome, to This Is America, May 21st 2022.

On this episode, we speak with Kamau Franklin of Community Movement Builders about the struggle to build self-determination and community power in Atlanta in the face of gentrification, police violence and racialized capitalism. We also discuss the growing fight to defend the Atlanta forest and react to the recent anti-Black attack in Buffalo, New York by a white supremacist.

All this and more, but first, let’s get to the news!

Living and Fighting

Solidarity with Buffalo

Across the so-called US, people showed solidarity with the Buffalo community, holding marchers and gatherings in Oakland, California, Charlottesville, Virginia, and taking to the streets in New York. Students in Charlottesville also organized a walk-out.

Mutual aid groups have also been working around the clock to help feed people in the wake of the horrific white supremacist attack at a neighborhood grocery store. If you want to support mutual aid programs on the ground, head to Buffalo Community Fridge to support.

Action News

Holding banners reading, “Always Punch Nazis,” and “One Love,” in Southern California, people again rallied and held space at an overpass where neo-Nazis had previously held banners promoting the genocidal “Great Replacement” theory.

In Boulder, Colorado, people marched against attempts by the local police and politicians to criminalize people sleeping in their cars.

In Davis, California, Cops off Campus dropped massive banners reading, “Feed the People, Cops off Campus,” and shut down debit machines, allowing students to eat for free at the dining hall on campus. A communique released online stated: “In solidarity with those who still believe in freedom; in solidarity with those who suffer the violence of hunger; in solidarity with those principled history of people’s free food programs – we are today taking the action of liberating the food in this dining hall.”

Members of the Industrial Workers of the World (IWW) rallied in Columbia, South Carolina in solidarity with workers fighting back against union-busting tactics by management. According to The Guardian:

Starbucks has fired over 20 union leaders around the US over the past several months as union organizing campaigns have spread across the country, the Guardian can reveal. The news comes as Starbucks workers have filed petitions for union elections at more than 250 stores, spanning 35 states in the US.

The NLRB has accused Starbucks of more than 200 violations of federal labor laws over the course of union organizing campaigns since late 2021. NLRB regional offices have issued complaints in regards to 45 cases against Starbucks, according to the NLRB. Starbucks also incited more legal concerns over recently announcing the rollout of new benefits for all employees, but exempting workers at unionized stores. Workers at several Starbucks stores have held strikes in protest of the company’s behavior toward union organizing.

Reproductive Freedom

In Reisterstown, Maryland, an anti-abortion center was vandalized with various pro-choice slogans. Banners were dropped in Los Angeles and in Kenosha, Wisconsin, Tucson, Arizona and La Jolla, California, students organized walkouts in support of reproductive freedom.

Various far-Right groups also attempted to stand off against pro-choice demonstrators, but were vastly outnumbered. In Los Angeles, as one reporter on Twitter wrote:

Anti-abortion counter-protesters arrived at a high school and displayed graphic photos of fetal tissue of questionable authenticity. They were made fun of, and signs were stolen…by high schoolers.

Wet’suwet’en Struggle

As the RCMP continues to harass Indigenous Wet’suwet’en people on their lands, solidarity actions continue against the Coastal GasLink pipeline. In Montreal, people covered a branch of the Royal Bank of Canada with red paint. A communique posted online to Montreal Counter-Info stated:

In “Montréal” this Friday May 13. We decorated an RBC Branch, in solidarity with the Wet’suwet’en land defenders. We used red paint, like the colour of the blood staining this bank’s hands.

Another RBC bank was also targeted, with the communique reading:

RBC is a dirty bank that fuels the climate crisis and global injustice. In solidarity we visited this RBC Westmount branch as a little reminder.

Defend the Atlanta Forest

The fight to save the Atlanta forest from both the construction of a massive police counter-insurgency training center and the expansion of a movie studio continues. Since out last episode, police have made several attempts to invade the forest and destroy structures made by those defending the land; making several arrests on Tuesday, May 17th. Since then, police have made another attempt at entering the forest on Friday, May 20th, however no arrests were made.

Solidarity actions remain ongoing. According to a communique posted to Scenes from the Atlanta Forest:

On the evening of may 10th I smashed 7 windows at the office building where the northeast offices of ATLAS are located in Albany, NY. I also tagged “ATLAS – STOP DESTROYING THE ATLANTA FOREST.” Destroying hundreds of acres of forest during the 6th greatest mass extinction of species to build a police training facility following one of the largest anti-police uprisings in decades is fucking disgusting. With this vandalism I urge ATLAS to do the right thing and drop any contracts with Brasfield and Gorrie and the Cop City project.

An action report about a protest on Scenes from the Atlanta Forest stated:

On May 11, 30-40 people visited the home of Keith Lanier Johnson Jr. Keith is the Eastern Regional President of Brasfield & Gorrie (B&G). B&G are the current general contractor for the Atlanta Police Foundation’s Cop City project in southeast Atlanta. The low-barrier fencing did not seem to deter assembled protesters from approaching the home directly in order to deliver fliers to Jr. Neighbors did not seem overly concerned with the assembled group when they approached the four building estate set back from the road.

Brasfield & Gorrie will eventually drop the Cop City contract. Anonymous groups are developing new methods for disincentivizing the project.

A report from Alabama read:


Another communique from Georgia read:


From Lane County in Oregon:

Over the past month or so many construction vehicles(lost count) in so called Lane County had their windows smashed in. Many more will be smashed in the future. These actions are being done in solidarity with forest defenders in so called Atlanta GA.

Finally, a communique posted to Scenes from the Atlanta forest from Minneapolis stated:

We smashed up the windows of the Bank of America on Hennepin Ave in Minneapolis, and painted the front to read “DEFUND COP CITY.”

Our attack was in solidarity with those arrested in the recent raid on the forest, and we pray for the safe return of our comrades and a continuation of the fight for life against cop city and hollywood dystopia. Bank of America will need to end their sponsorship of the Atlanta Police Foundation or they will continue to be under threat from our friends across the so-called united states.

a toast to the nights we gave ’em hell.

Upcoming Events

  • May 20th – 22nd: This May 20th-22nd, Woodbine and Symbiosis will host a northeast regional gathering in New York City, to discuss the last two years of our organizing for survival. From our experiences and experiments with mutual aid and disaster relief, what are our present and future needs for coordination and confederation in order to build autonomy and dual power? More info here.
  • May 21st: March Against Anti-LGBTQ/Anti-Abortion Rally in Boulder, CO. More info here.
  • May 24th: “Mutual Aid, Mass Politics and the Spirit of May 28th” at the Landing Strip in Minneapolis, MN.
  • May 26th: Civil Liberties Defense Center ‘Know Your Rights’ training.
  • May 28th: BBQ Celebration at the Landing Strip in Minneapolis, MN.
  • June 5th: Bay Area Anarchist Bookfair returns to Oakland, California. 11 AM – 5 PM, 5th and Harrison. More info here.
  • June 25th – 26th: Autonomous Tenant Union Network 2022 Convention. Los Angeles, CA. More info here.
  • July 29th – 30th: At Dual Power 2022 we want to foster an atmosphere of generative co-learning and co-creativity. We want to connect people and bring them together around shared work. We want to create a space where ideas are exchanged, stories are told, and futures are imagined, in the context of building and maintaining dual power. More info here.
  • August 6th-7th: Montreal Anarchist Bookfair. More info here.
  • August 13–21st: This August will mark the fourth Institute for Advanced Troublemaking’s (IAT) Anarchist Summer School — eight days of popular education, blending theory and practice, for adults of all ages. Apply by April 22:
  • September 10th and 11th: New York City Anarchist Bookfair. La Plaza Community Garden (10th) and virtually (11th). More info here.
  • September 18th: Pushing Down the Walls, Southern California. Benefit for political prisoners. More info here.

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