Resistance To ‘Cop City’ Heats Up As Construction Is Halted, Trees Occupied

On Tuesday, January 18th, tree-cutting was reported on social media in the Atlanta Forest, an area of highly contested green-space where both a movie studio and the local police are attempting to clear-cut trees to build expanded studio lots and a state of the art police training facility, which will include a “mock city for first responders to train in.” Over the past year, resistance to the project has taken many forms, from militant marches, community forums and BBQs, protests against those funding and helping to carry out the project, to a campaign to pressure local politicians to block the devastation of the forest. The campaign has brought together a wide variety of movements, groups, and communities, each fighting to save the forest and stop an encroaching arm of the expanding police state, known in Atlanta, as “Cop City.”

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#StopCopCity Resistance Continues As Bulldozing Ensues

Atlanta, GA — On Tues., Jan. 18, around 2 p.m., The Mainline received community reports of heavy machinery and tree cutting taking place in the Old Atlanta Prison Farm land located in the South River Forest. The land was originally inhabited by Muscogee (Creek) indigenous peoples before their forced removal in the 1800s. Tribal leaders and members, now based in Eastern Oklahoma, joined with Atlanta organizers in the #StopCopCity coalition in a historic migration and stomp dance ceremony in the forest last November.

Local residents gathered in the forest in response to the apparent bulldozing. The construction continues in the face of ongoing dissent against the city’s plans to build a massive $90 police militarization facility known as “Cop City.”

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Why Atlantans Are Pushing To Stop ‘Cop City’

On Sept. 8, the Atlanta City Council gathered after listening to nearly 17 hours of comments from over 1,100 constituents across the city. The flood of messages concerned one thing: a proposed $90 million police militarization training facility known among locals as “Cop City.” The renderings of the facility include a mock city for officers to train in, as well as a helicopter landing base, new shooting ranges, burn tower sites, and more. Its development is being spearheaded by the Atlanta Police Foundation and two-thirds of the funding comes from “philanthropic” and corporate donors, kicking the remainder of the bill to the public.

The project’s supporters, who include Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms and Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp, have described the facility as a vital tool for improving police morale and fighting crime.

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Lessons From The National Union Of The Homeless

This July, unhoused leaders set up tents in front of Atlanta City Hall to demand a meeting with city officials. They were met by nearly 60 armed police officers who gave them 15 minutes to disperse. Only moments later, 10 of the activists — members of the newly-formed Atlanta Homeless Union — were arrested.

The group had four demands: permanent housing, health care, access to water and sanitation, and a “seat at the table” to negotiate with city officials regarding housing policy. “Nobody else that’s not walking in our shoes gonna tell us what to do,” the unhoused leaders announced in their first press release. “Teach us how to fish, and we’ll eat forever. The homeless have unionized, and we’re here for what we deserve.”

The Atlanta Homeless Union came into being at a critical moment for the nearly 600,000 people experiencing homelessness across the nation — a number that is likely much higher since data on homelessness hasn’t been gathered since before the pandemic.

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Defund The Police Groups, Atlanta Officials Are Still Miles Apart

City Council meetings were dominated by residents’ and civil rights activists’ calls for police accountability. A year later, these activists say their relationships with City Council remain strained. Those hoping to redistribute police investment said they’re unsatisfied with the government’s response. Some City Council members say they understand the calls for change, but that change takes time.

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On Contact: Deep American Roots Of The Atlanta Shootings

On the show this week, Chris Hedges discusses with journalist and writer May Jeong the deep American roots of the Atlanta shootings.

May Jeong’s op-ed, ‘The Deep American Roots of the Atlanta Shootings – The Victims Lived at the Nexus of Race, Gender and Class’, was published in the New York Times on March 19, 2021.

Jeong is a writer at Vanity Fair and an Alicia Patterson fellow. She is working on a book about sex work.

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Atlanta Murders Reporting Relied On Law Enforcement Narratives

Gunman Rob Aaron Long opened fire in three Asian-owned spas in the Atlanta, Georgia area on March 16, 2021, killing Yong Ae Yue, Hyun Jung Grant, Suncha Kim, Soon Chung Park, Delaina Ashley Yuan, Xiaojie Tan, Daoyou Feng and Paul Andre Michels.* Six of the eight victims were Asian women.

At local and national levels, the initial media response focused primarily on the gunman’s story and police statements. Reports linked the targeted businesses to sex work with insubstantial documentation, but struggled to identify if and how race and gender motivated the gunman.

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Atlanta Jail Task Force Recommends Razing Building, Creating Equity Center

Nearly a year after its creation, the Atlanta City Jail task force has recommended closing the jail, demolishing the building and replacing it with a Center for Equity that would support Atlantans’ needs.

The 26-page report was delivered to Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms on June 12, giving suggestions on how the city can change the institution and convert it into a space to serve Atlanta residents, particularly those from communities most affected by the criminal justice system. The report described a center “that will advance racial and economic equity, promote restorative justice, and invest in the well-being of individuals, families, and communities.”

The 52-member task force suggested any changes to the 11-story facility that can hold up to 1,300 inmates include addressing ongoing justice reform and the city’s employment and housing concerns.

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APD Disbands Narcotics Unit To Focus On Violent Crime

Channel 2 investigative reporter Mark Winne confirmed the change on Tuesday, with the department telling him that those officers will be getting reassigned to other units. Atlanta police officials suggested the move is not abandoning the drug fight but about reducing violent crime. “Absolutely, it’s a risky move,” a veteran APD narcotics officer told Winne, asking not to be identified. “I’m sure there was a lot of thought put into it. I don’t have all the numbers that the higher-ups in APD have, but I wouldn’t recommend it.

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Civil Rights Groups To Hold Social Justice Rally In Atlanta Before The Super Bowl

Organizers will stage a rally to call for the removal of Confederate monuments and symbols on the eve of the big game. A group of civil rights organizations is planning to hold a rally in Atlanta to denounce white supremacy, among other themes, ahead of Sunday’s Super Bowl 2019. On Saturday, organizations, community members and activists will take advantage of the Super Bowl’s spotlight on Georgia’s capital to launch a movement calling for the removal of Confederate monuments and symbols in the state. Demonstrators at the “United We Shall Stand Rally,” set for noon at Piedmont Park, will also address voter suppression and police brutality, according to Richard Rose…

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City Takes Major Step To Reform Oppressive And Inhumane Bail System

Atlanta’s City Council just unanimously voted and adopted a move to reform Atlanta’s cash bail system, which frequently targets, jails and ultimately upends the lives of its poorest citizens for some of the most minor and non-violent misdemeanors. The decision took a heated six hours to reach a 13-0 vote, and has become the latest protest in a growing number of concerted efforts against the American justice system’s notorious bail scam. Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms signed the proposal that stipulated people guilty of nuisance offenses should not be jailed for unnecessarily lengthy durations—think in terms of days, weeks and months—simply because they do not have the financial power to pay fines starting at $100 and going up to $500 and more.

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Cities, Volunteers Clash Over Feeding Homeless In Public

When Adele MacLean joined others in an Atlanta park to feed the hungry the Sunday before Thanksgiving, she left with a citation and a summons to appear in court. The case was dropped when she showed up in court earlier this month, but she and her lawyers say the citation for serving food without a permit was improper and demonstrates callousness toward the homeless. The city and some advocates say feeding people on the streets can hinder long-term solutions and raises sanitation concerns. “I’m still outraged this is happening,” MacLean said after her court appearance Dec. 14. “I’m concerned that the city, whenever they want to crack down on the homeless, they’re going to go after anyone that tries to help them.”

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Arrested For Feeding Homeless Without Permit Before Thanksgiving

By Aaron Kesel for Activist Post – The Sunday before Thanksgiving Atlanta police handed out tickets to activists feeding the homeless in a clear display of disregard for its hungry citizens simply because activists didn’t have a food distribution permit. Atlanta, which is in Fulton County, has long had a policy requiring organizers of such efforts to obtain a permit. Local authorities have in the past turned a blind eye to the ordinance, though, according to the activist groups including Food Not Bombs that feed the homeless. But last week that changed, of all times right before the American holiday where you are supposed to give thanks and share. Instead, those giving to others in need were arrested for not having a measly piece of paper that authorizes them to hold the food drives and pay the state to do so. These permits are often costly and are an outrage in that they violently coerce groups into applying for charity toward fellow citizens so they don’t starve to death. But, alas, the state has always used and abused the color of law to be sure they get their cut of whatever they deem to be “illegal.” When it comes to food, however, it is a practice that is particularly inhumane and insane to punish people’s natural inclination to help those in need. Two activists who were arrested, Adele Maclean and Marlon Kautz, spoke out on the matter to local CBS station WSB-TV in Atlanta. “I mean, outrageous, right? Of all the things to be punished for, giving free food to people who are hungry?” Maclean told CBS WSB-TV.

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A New Generation Of Small Farmers Is Emerging In Atlanta

By K. Rashid Nuri for The Huffington Post – A political democracy is worthless without an economic democracy. What we have in America, with its 1-10 percent minority in control of 95 percent of the wealth, is closer to an economic monarchy. The fundamental necessities of food, clothing and shelter are largely controlled by business and government interests that are far removed from the people who depend upon them. A community that can’t feed itself is vulnerable to the whims of others. America’s large consumer economy was built at the expense of personal and community autonomy. Few of us can truly decide what we want for dinner, based on what nature offers and the work that we are willing to do to get it. Millions of Americans are learning that the convenience of letting someone else feed us has resulted in widespread side effects: dangerous chemicals in our food, poor nutrition, chronic diseases and damage to the environment. Urban agriculture can change the food landscape and put the power to choose back in the hands of the people. The solution is in the soil close to where people live. For most of human history, food was produced within walking distance of where it was consumed, allowing people to maintain a direct connection with the land and their food. America was 95 percent rural in 1900. Today, 81 percent of Americans live in metropolitan areas.

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Atlanta Fought For $15 And Won

By Joel Mendelson for Jobs with Justice – People working for the city of Atlanta received welcome news as the City Council unanimously passed a budget raising their wages. Starting on July 1, 2017, base pay for city employees will rise from $10.10 to $13 an hour. Even better news? By mid-2019, all city employees will earn a minimum of $15 an hour. Now more than 1,000 people who sweep the city streets, maintain local parks, and put out fires will have a better chance at making ends meet. And this raise happened thanks to Atlanta Jobs With Justice. The coalition of labor unions, community groups, faith-based organizations, student organizations, and individuals is on the front lines of organizing Atlantans to achieve economic and social justice. In 2013, Atlanta Jobs With Justice held the city’s first Fight For $15 rally in support of brave men and women in the fast-food industry who went on strike to speak up for family-sustaining jobs. The event launched the coalition’s community-wide efforts to secure a long-overdue raise for those who make Atlanta work. The wage increase is a notable development given that a study released this month showed a working person in Georgia needed to earn at least $16.79 an hour to afford a two-bedroom apartment. The poverty rate of neighborhoods a stone’s throw from Atlanta’s City Hall approaches 70 percent.

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