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Mar 17, 23

This Is America #183: Report from Atlanta During ‘Week of Action’ Against Cop City

Welcome, to This is America, March 16th, 2023.

In this episode, we sit down with Clark, a member of the Atlanta Community Press Collective, who joins us to discuss the past week of action in Atlanta as the fight against Cop City continues, following the arrest of concert goers on trumped up ‘domestic terrorism’ charges.

During our discussion, we talk about new revelations surrounding the police murder of forest defender Tortuguita on January 18th, as a new independent autopsy has revealed:

The autopsy conducted of Tortuguita at the request of their family by Dr. Kris Sperry has found that when Tortuguita was shot and killed, their hands were raised in the air. According to the family’s lawyers, “The autopsy further reveals that Manuel was most probably in a seated position, cross-legged when killed.”

The Georgia Bureau of Investigation says they have conducted their own autopsy, however they have yet to reveal the report.

We also discuss the actions in Atlanta that took place last week, from mass marches and protests, to rallies at city council, a Food Autonomy Festival, and also attempts by the police to harass and silence activists. As wrote in Truthout:

The March 5 mass arrest touched off an unparalleled wave of police repression throughout the following week in downtown Atlanta and Southeast DeKalb County, where the park and proposed Cop City site are located. Police deliberately targeted First Amendment-protected activity by activists, legal observers and journalists — including me.

On March 10, I followed and documented a group of about a dozen activists in downtown Atlanta as they demonstrated at local offices of organizations connected to Cop City or officials empowered to stop the project. The group, led by veteran direct action organizer Lisa Fithian, visited and attempted to get meetings at the offices of Atlanta Beltline, on whose board sits Atlanta Mayor Andre Dickens; BoardWalk Consulting, which advises the Atlanta Police Foundation; and the Atlanta Hawks, whose owner, Tony Ressler, donated at least $1 million to the APF.

An extremely disproportionate police presence stalked the traveling protest at each of the stops, with at least two full vans of police and constantly circling APD vehicles hounding the group’s every move. The group then headed to the Peachtree Center, which houses the Atlanta Regional Center where Mvskoke leaders attempted to deliver an eviction notice to Mayor Dickens on March 8. At least five APD officers followed the group into the center. At that point, the group decided to disperse.

Our experience was just a small taste of the heavy-handed repression against First Amendment-protected activity throughout last week. On March 11, police raided the 10-acre property of the Lakewood Environmental Arts Foundation (LEAF), a nonprofit community food-distribution center based out of the owner’s house. The LEAF property had been serving as a welcome center and medic hub during the week of action, and the organization’s property was used as a secondary encampment site for activists who obtained permission.

APD and Homeland Security officers entered the property with AR-15s and detained at least 22 people. They reportedly refused to provide an arrest warrant, saying it was offsite. One person was arrested for an outstanding parking ticket, demonstrating the state’s desperation to snatch up anyone associated with the “Stop Cop City” movement. Officers ruthlessly ransacked infrastructure at the LEAF encampment site, disrupting medic operations.

Earlier in the week, another small group of about 15 people gathered downtown to hand out flyers explaining their opposition to the proposed police training center. Police responded with more than 50 officers and a SWAT team.

We then switch to our discussion, where we look at the recent crash of Silicon Valley Bank, what it means for working-class people, and how Norfolk Southern trains keep derailing across the US.

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photo: Midwest People’s History

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