Atlanta activists host community town hall around stop Cop City
Atlanta, GA – On Tuesday, March 28 over 100 community members and activists attended a community town hall hosted by Community Movement Builders (CMB). The purpose of the town hall was to inform the public about the ongoing struggle to stop Cop City, a proposed $90 million facility that would train law enforcement officers from around the country in new and innovative ways to oppress people and repress progressive movements. Additionally, the proposed training facility would be built on the Atlanta Forest, the largest urban forest in the United States.
The town hall began with a speech from Kamau Franklin, the founder of CMB. Franklin spoke on the nature of policing in America and pointed out that this facility would not train police to better serve the community but rather better serve the interests of corporations and their politicians. He then drew the connection from the history of police as slave catchers and strikebreakers to the role they play today as an occupying force within the African American community. Franklin also highlighted the role Israeli police play in training Georgia police and connected the struggle between the Palestinian and Black liberation struggles.
“We are opposed to Cop City because we understand that it is a further mechanism of control over our communities,” said Franklin. “We oppose Cop City because we understand that it is a further mechanism of control over our movements.”
Next to speak was Mary Hooks, an activist with Movement 4 Black Lives (M4BL). She spoke on the hypocrisy of Mayor Andre Dickens and his recent State of Atlanta address. She also spoke about the 1994 Crime Bill, the War on Drugs, and the impact mass incarceration has had on the Black community.
“Back when they could have expanded the services and alternatives to address poverty and poverty-induced violence they didn’t,” said Hooks. “And what did they do? They locked up folks like Eman Jamil Al-Amin, political prisoner who was working in the West End doing community work.”
The town hall was then opened up to community members to give comments about Cop City and their experiences with the police.
“The proposed police training facility, dubbed ‘Cop City,’ sits at the intersection of myriad issues currently plaguing not only Atlanta but our society. Gentrification, environmental racism, the issues of class and power and how we allow corporations to shape our lives. Atlanta is one of the city’s most negatively impacted by climate change. The forest provides protection from flooding and serves to cool the city. Will Cop City aid in the handling of impending climate disasters as well? In a city where only about 4% of Black people make it out of poverty, we must question why tens of millions of dollars have been allocated to the building of this facility. The building of a facility in which the surrounding community provided 17 hours of public comment in which they overwhelmingly didn’t support it,” said Easy Johnson, an organizer with CMB and emcee for the town hall.
“After all, Cop City is the corporate solution to Black people protesting our oppression. It’s $30 million of taxpayer money for a police training facility no one in the community surrounding the proposed facility asked for. The death of environmental activist, Tortuguita, serves as the parakeet in the mine to warn us of what’s to come if Cop City is built,” Johnson continued.
The town hall ended with community members and activists committing to stop Cop City and signing up for further action and information from the groups in attendance.