The Stream

What’s next in the battle over Atlanta’s ‘Cop City’?

On Tuesday, January 31 at 19:30 GMT:
Public opposition to a proposed police training centre near the US city of Atlanta is growing, as people demand answers about the police killing of an environmental rights activist at the planned site.

Community and environmental activists have for months sought to block construction of what they call ‘Cop City’. The $90m facility will sit on 85 acres of land within the South River forest in Atlanta’s unincorporated DeKalb county.

The long-running dispute over the centre made national and international headlines after police shot dead environmental activist Manuel Esteban Paez Terán (known as “Tortuguita”) while trying to clear the site of forest defenders on January 18. A state trooper was also shot and injured in the incident, which is now the subject of an independent investigation. Activists from across the US have in recent days travelled to Atlanta to  join protests.

The Atlanta Police Foundation, the agency spearheading the centre, says the facility will “set a national standard for community engagement, neighborhood sensitivity and devotion to the civil rights of all citizens by law enforcement”, and will also “welcome the community to its public spaces”. Major corporations including Wells Fargo and Delta Airlines are invested in the project, but people living in the immediate proximity of the forest say it is going ahead despite a clear majority of public opposition.

Local community leaders are unhappy that the centre will be built on land that the city council originally set aside for a public park, and social justice activists say the decision to build the centre next to majority Black neighbourhoods is an insult to people in marginalised communities who have faced police brutality and aggression. Environmental groups who are against the training centre say the South River forest is a key part of Atlanta’s tree canopy that prevents stormwater flooding.

In this episode of The Stream, we’ll look at opposition to “Cop City” and ask what could happen next.

In this episode of The Stream, we are joined by:
Kamau Franklin, @kamaufranklin
Executive Director, Community Movement Builders

Jacqueline Echols, @SouthRiverGA
Co-founder, South River Watershed Alliance

Anna Kook, @annakook
Field Producer, AJ+