Atlanta’s city council voted 11-4 to approve funding for the construction of a $90 million police training center, sited in the South River Forest, despite fierce and sustained opposition from thousands of Atlantans. Protest over ‘Cop City’ swelled after Manuel Paez Terán, a 26-year-old environmental activist known as “Tortuguita” was shot by police while camping near the site of the proposed project.
Environmental and racial justice advocates argue that the training center will increase the militarization of the police and that the noise from police drills, which include shooting, will disrupt life and undermine safety for the surrounding Black communities.
Protesters had been camping at the site since at least last year, and flooded city council on Tuesday for the vote. The South River Forest has a complex history that includes at least one plantation, a prison farm, and the violent removal of Indigenous people.
Now, Atlantans rely on the forest for clean air, cooling, and recreation, and say that clearing 85 acres to make way for the police training center is unjust and environmentally irresponsible. “We don’t want it because it doesn’t contribute to life,” Emory University professor Sara McClintock, told the AP. “It’s not an institution of peace. It’s not a way forward for our city that we love.” (AP, ABC News, Axios, CNN, BBC, The Guardian, HuffPost, New York Times $)