You need to care about Cop City 

Police brutality is an issue that has plagued the US for a long time. A system that could reduce police brutality is the “Cop City”. Photo by Alotrobo/Pexels.

The plan for Cop City began in 2020 after the death of George Floyd, as a part of the reforms promised by the city to improve police relations with the community. This expansive facility was intended to help train police for a variety of realistic scenarios and hopefully deescalate instances of conflict. However, the project has received pushback from a variety of local groups, according to Nick Valencia in a CNN article. For starters, the 85-acre project would deforest a watershed ecosystem which environmentalists claim would cause a great deal of harm to a much larger part of the natural area, which already has been endangered by other developments. Native groups have long maintained this land and hold it as sacred. Lastly, this compound would be placed in the middle of a predominantly Black and Brown neighborhood, which can only serve to worsen the exact relations it means to improve.  

Now, all of these problems have been brought in front of the Atlanta City Council, with residents calling in over 17 hours worth of comments against the project. Alternatives for funding were proposed, with local groups hoping that the $90 million could instead be put toward community resources and development. However, the city, shockingly, went ahead with the lease regardless. In more recent efforts, canvassers went out into the city and brought back over 115,000 signatures in support of a direct vote on the construction; but this unprecedented level of support  might not matter, as city attorneys blocked the petition in the courts. This left the effort in jeopardy as the construction continues and the fight goes on. One protestor described the situation, saying, “We’ve tried everything. We went through City Council, we’ve taken the legislative route, we’ve done tons of advocacy, we’ve sent in letters, and all we’ve been responded with is force.”  

Peaceful protests began as people realized their voices would not be listened to, but local police have been just as understanding as those in city council. Even after the killing of a protester, Manuel Terán, people have still tried to keep things peaceful under increasing pressure from the city, according to Fox 5 Atlanta. However, Georgia Attorney General Chris Carr has become more aggressive, picking a fight against the protesters and the entire ideological movement against police violence. He indicted 61 people using the state’s Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act, targeting key players in the Atlanta Solidarity Fund and other activist groups protesting against Cop City. The amount of problems this indictment has is almost comedic, as it starts by claiming the roots of the “Stop Cop City” movement are the death of George Floyd and the original Black Lives Matter protests that happened in 2020, tying both of those things to anarchism. It shows that Carr is after a political statement, which destroys the integrity of this entire judiciary process. Even his usage of the RICO act is baseless, considering the legislature which passed it specifically argued against using it in this way towards “isolated incidents of misdemeanor conduct or acts of civil disobedience”.  

There is also the problem of the charges being absolutely absurd. Several of the charges completely ignore protected political speech, as with the protestors charged with felony intimidation for putting up flyers spreading awareness about the police killing of Terán. Carr also describes the flyers advertising the ASF as an act of racketeering, meaning running a business ilegally. Another large portion of the indictment, especially against ASF members, is the monetary reimbursement covering supplies for protesters. One protester spent three months in jail for being reimbursed by the ASF for buying art supplies. Another charge of money laundering came about because of a $11.91 transfer for buying glue.  

While these charges are blatantly unconstitutional, just noting that fact is not enough to undo the harm that they present. The challenges to these charges will take a long time; meanwhile, more money needs to be spent in an overly drawn-out legal battle, people spend months in jail cells and the movement loses force. This is especially true considering the specific county in which Carr filed these charges, one with 18,000 open felony cases and one of the largest backlogs in the whole country, according to Zohra Ahmed of The Nation. It’s a strategy that is weaponizing the system without actually using it to properly uphold justice and law.  

The criminal justice system and the city itself are both out of control, unresponsive to their constituents and led by a destructive drive to crush political dissidence. They are threatening the constitutional rights of all Americans with the potential precedent that comes from the end of this fight. If the Atlanta City Council and Carr are allowed to get away with gross political suppression and criminalizing free speech, they will destroy American voices in our democracy from both inside and outside the proper political channels. This problem will affect all of us so no matter who you are, you need to care about Cop City.  


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