April 9 — The multiyear struggle against Cop City, the huge militarized police training facility projected to be built in the southeast side of the city in the South River Forest, aka the Weelaunee Forest, one of the largest urban forests in the U.S., took some unexpected turns in recent weeks.
The Jan. 19 police killing of Manuel “Tortugita” Terán heightened attention on this struggle across the U.S. The 26-year-old unarmed forest defender was killed as multiple police agencies conducted an armed “sweep” of the woods. Young people had pitched tents and built tree houses to prevent the clear-cutting of trees in an area of the forest they have renamed Weelaunee People’s Park to honor the original Muskogee people, who were forced off this land in the 1850s by the U.S. military.
Crowds of a thousand or more people had gathered during the February Week of Action, when police arrested dozens of people and charged them with “domestic terrorism.”
When the private autopsy conducted for Terán’s family was released March 13; it identified 14 gunshot wounds. The path of the bullet wounds indicated that Teràn had been seated cross-legged with hands raised, palms inward when killed.
Protests of Terán’s killing have continued outside the DeKalb jail, where all those denied bail were being held, at City hall and on downtown streets and on college campuses.
Angela Davis speaks out
Angela Davis, Black liberation activist and prison abolitionist, was the keynote speaker at the annual Walter Rodney Foundation Symposium March 24. The symposium explores the ideas of the Guyanese revolutionary scholar-activist Walter Rodney.
Following her remarks, an Atlanta City Council member presented Davis with a plaque honoring her “civil rights activism.” All 15 current City Council members had signed the plaque, yet six of those members had approved the Atlanta Police Foundation plan to build Cop City, despite overwhelming public opposition. At the conclusion of the presentation of the plaque, the crowd erupted into loud chants of “Stop Cop City.”
Davis released a statement the next day, apologizing for not having made clear her support for the fight to stop building the militarized training center, Cop City. She then issued a video declaring that she was returning the award as a sign of her complete solidarity with the campaign to stop Cop City.
Davis said, “I want to salute all those who are involved in the Stop Cop City movement. I want to urge people everywhere to find ways to generate support for them.”