Private equity firms are connected to, and stand to benefit from, Atlanta’s controversial “Cop City,” a new report from the Private Equity Stakeholder Project reveals. The proposed police training center, construction of which would destroy 85 acres of forest in one of Atlanta’s largest remaining green spaces, was the site of the first known killing of an environmental activist in the U.S. earlier this year. Atlanta-based private equity firm Roark Capital owns Inspire Brands, the CEO of which sits on the Atlanta Police Foundation Board (itself is raising $60 million from corporate backers for Cop City).
The former APF COO (now deputy CAO of the Atlanta police department) also sits on the board of Inspire Brands’ philanthropic arm. According to LittleSis, police foundations work as a backdoor funding channel to allow corporate interests to increase police forces’ already-large budgets with little public oversight or accountability.
“When it comes to policing, which already faces severe accountability and transparency issues, private equity involvement adds an additional layer of opaqueness,” PESP researcher and report author Amanda Mendoza told The Guardian. “This report is just scratching the surface in investigating how private equity has contributed to not only moving these dangerous projects forward but also supporting a devolving situation of violence in the city.” (The Guardian)