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Georgia: Atlantans gather for public comment, city council funds Cop City

By staff

Opponents of Cop City gather in preparation for public comment to the Atlanta ci

Atlanta, GA – More than 1000 protesters gathered on June 5 at the Atlanta City Hall for public comment before a crucial city council vote which would officially fund Cop City, the $90 million police training facility scheduled to be constructed on the south side of Atlanta. The protesters arrived throughout the day, some as early as 7 a.m., to sign up to speak to the Council. By 1 p.m., 357 people were signed up for public comment.

This public comment and council vote come immediately on the heels of the May 31 SWAT raid and arrests of three Georgian bail fund activists who are being referred to as the ASF 3, and shortly after the revelation that the taxpayers’ role in funding Cop City was more than twice what Mayor Andre Dickens had claimed.

This is not the first time activists have gathered at City Hall to protest Cop City. On May 15, the Atlanta City Council held a public comment session for additional allocation of funding for the Cop City program – an increase of $3.5 million. More than 300 people attended to protest and provide comment to the council, speaking for a combined total of seven hours, entirely in opposition to the facility’s construction.

The event on June 5 was met with a much larger police presence than at previous city council meetings. Dozens of heavily-armed officers stood behind cordons and balcony railings in the City Hall building, watching the proceedings.

Protest began inside the City Hall building while signups were still ongoing. Reverend Keyanna Jones, Kamau Franklin and others spoke to the crowd, and a gospel singer led the protesters in a series of chants.

Public comment began at 1 p.m. and lasted past 4 a.m. on Tuesday morning. The 15 hours of public comment were largely in opposition to the funding of Cop City; out of the 238 people who were able to stay until it was their turn to speak, 234 spoke against it. Many individuals appealed to the councilmembers’ morality. Many spoke about the councilmembers’ duties to the people. Some individuals spoke about the council’s decision to ban liquids from the chamber. “We have been dehydrated – not just physically but mentally too. We have been dehydrated by the police department,” one individual said.

After public comment finished on Tuesday morning, the city council voted to fund Cop City by an 11-4 margin. The protesters still in attendance broke out into a minutes-long chant of “Cop City will never be built,” and shortly after the council adjourned.

Micah Herskind, a community organizer, speaking shortly before public comment began, spoke about next steps if the council voted to allocate $67 million in taxpayer funds to construct Cop City. “This movement has always been so much bigger than City Hall,” he said. “People told us that we lost back in September 2021 when they voted for the lease, and here hundreds and thousands of people still are fighting, and so I think the fight goes on. The fight goes on, as it always has.”

A national call to action against Cop City is scheduled for June 8, and a local week of action, the sixth of its kind, has been scheduled for June 24 through July 1.

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