J. Pharoah Doss, for the New Pittsburgh Courier
In September 2021, the Atlanta City Council leased the wooded areas to the Atlanta Police Foundation for the construction of the training center. Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottom said the facility will provide much needed space for police and first responders to receive 21st century training.
“Abolish the Police” activists insisted that law enforcement did not deserve a new facility, while environmentalists hoped to turn the area into a park.
The movement to stop the construction was called “Stop Police City”.
In December 2021, the movement created a camp for “protectors of the forest” who protested against the training base. In January, bulldozers arrived to begin construction, and dozens of “forest defenders” clashed with police, leading to arrests. The city authorities told the “forest defenders” that they were trespassing on private land, but the “forest defenders” continued to clash with the police.
In May 2022, “protectors of the forest” threw bottles with an incendiary mixture at employees patrolling the territory.
A month later, a Guardian columnist described entering the camp of “forest defenders”. “A sign in the woods reads: You are leaving the USA.” Then high up, among the branches of a white oak tree, stands a cell-sized tree house. It is draped on all sides with white sheets with signs like “No Police,” “No Pipeline” and “No Jail.” The Guardian also published photos of “forest defenders” in camouflage and ski masks.
The “Forest Defenders,” whose camp was made up of makeshift treehouses, looked prepared for guerrilla warfare.
One forest defender told a reporter: “A lot of people here have had friends who have died, been imprisoned, shot and suffered a lot of trauma, so they have an internal hatred for the police. There are other people who are well aware of the fact that the police are people trying to do what they think is right.’
From this comment, it can be understood that there were disagreements between the activists of the “repeal of the police” and the environmentalists about the violence.
In December 2022, Axios Atlanta reported that a task force of local, state and federal officers attempted to remove barricades set up by activists to block access to the property, but several “protectors of the forest” threw rocks at police cars and attacked an ambulance outside a nearby fire station. with rocks and bottles. This time, the arrested “protectors of the forest” were accused of domestic terrorism.
The police tried to persuade those who remained in the camp to leave.
Meanwhile, Georgia’s governor issued a statement calling the camp a “criminal network” and saying law enforcement would ensure the training center was built.
At that point, any activist who disagreed with the violence had to leave the forest. Obviously, any activist who remained in the woods believed that their camp was no longer in the US and that the rule of law did not apply to them.
“Protectors of the forest” hung another sign: “Protection of the forest is self-defense.”
If the law enforcement officers saw this sign, they most likely assumed that the “protectors of the forest” were now armed. It’s a shame there wasn’t another sign that said channeling social frustration into activism isn’t progressive, it’s counterproductive.
Two weeks ago, The Guardian had a headline: “Killed in cold blood: Activist killed who protested in Georgia police town.” The Guardian reported that the killing of 26-year-old Manuel Terrano is unprecedented in the history of environmental activism. Keith Woodhouse, a professor of history at Northwestern University, said: “The killing of environmental activists by the state is very common in other countries like Brazil, Honduras and Nigeria, but this has never happened in the US.”
Protesters gathered in downtown Atlanta and masked activists set fire to a police cruiser, smashed windows and defaced walls with anti-police graffiti.
However, Fox News’ coverage of the shooting was different. Their headline read: Demonstrator Shoots Georgia State Trooper in “Cop City” Near Atlanta. That report said police were clearing the camp when a man fired without warning at a serviceman, wounding an officer, and other officers returned fire in self-defense, killing the man who shot at them.
The Georgia Bureau of Investigation released a photo of the gun in Manuel Terrano’s possession, and forensics confirmed that the shell recovered from the soldier’s wound matched the same gun.
Whatever The Guardian’s headline says, there is no martyr in the Stop Police City movement, but Manuel may be a victim of the movement’s fallibility.