A student of mine told me about this situation in Atlanta before it led to violence and this is just crazy stuff. Basically, the Atlanta Police Department wants to log off a big ol’ forest in an area that increasingly is cutting them all down for development and create a new training center so it can learn the latest in violent community suppression. Protestors, mostly of the anarchist fold, occupied the forest, connecting up environmental protection with anti-police activism. So the cops responded by engaging in an operation to clear them all out and not surprisingly, that led to violence and a dead protestor.
Longstanding tensions over a planned Atlanta police training center boiled over on Wednesday when a protester was killed and a Georgia state trooper was wounded during a confrontation in the wooded area just outside the city where the center is to be built, the authorities said.
The shootings happened as the police worked to clear protesters out of the woods, according to law enforcement officials and activists who oppose the center. At least four people were also detained in the sweep, the authorities said.
The plans for the training center call for it to be built on 85 acres of forested land, and include an area for police trainees to learn vehicle skills and even a mock village, with space for facsimiles of a nightclub, a convenience store and homes to practice different tactics in an array of settings.
But the proposal has been assailed from the outset by critics of the Atlanta Police Department who have described the $90 million development — derisively nicknamed “Cop City” — as a dangerous investment in militarizing law enforcement. Activists have moved into the forest, and their efforts to block construction have escalated in recent months into violent confrontations with law enforcement officers.
The circumstances surrounding the fatal shooting remained unclear on Wednesday, with investigators disclosing few details of what happened and activists challenging the official description of events.
“No one can bring our friend back to us,” the activists said in a statement published by the Atlanta Community Press Collective, a digital outlet aligned with the protesters. “An innocent life has been taken and the machines continue.”
But the authorities have sought to portray the actions of those involved with the “Defend the Atlanta Forest” effort as perpetrating something more sinister.
“These individuals and groups have attempted to disguise their activities as being protests,” Michael Register, the director of the Georgia Bureau of Investigation, told reporters on Wednesday, adding that “law enforcement and portions of our community have experienced growing criminal behavior and terroristic acts.”
He said the activists had been accused of arson and setting traps in the woods capable of causing serious physical harm. Last month, prosecutors took the unusual step of charging six people connected to the Defend the Atlanta Forest effort with domestic terrorism. Gov. Brian Kemp of Georgia has vowed to maintain the aggressive approach. “The only response we will give to intimidation and violence is swift and exact justice,” he said in a recent statement.
Oh give me a break. “Terroristic acts.” Like…..what now? Arson? They are burning the forest they are trying to save? Seems unlikely. I don’t really know what “setting traps” here means, but they are anarchists, so how effective could they possibly be?
These anarchist types may annoy you and I know how much a set of LGM commenters hates direct action protest. But what are they supposed to do to stop police violence and/or save this forest? Vote harder? I mean, when facing an organization like the Atlanta Police Department, what exactly do you have in mind?