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"Cop City" and the Struggle for Climate Justice

Along the South River, in the southwest corner of DeKalb County, Georgia, lies a forested area of about 300 acres that has been owned by the nearby City of Atlanta for over a century. It was once part of a vastly larger wooded landscape, home to the Muskogee (Creek) people. They gave the river and forest the name “Weelaunee.”

In 2021, Atlanta officials decided to split 85 acres off this remnant of the Weelaunee forest and lease it to the Atlanta Police Foundation, a nonprofit organization, for construction of a $90 million tactical training center. If built, it will be one of the country’s largest such facilities and include an entire “mock village” in which cops can practice doing the kinds of things cops do.

Meanwhile, forest defenders have camped and protested, both under and up in the trees, for more than a year, while enduring repeated police raids and the killing by police of one of their own: Manuel Paez Terán, a Venezuelan eco-activist known as Tortuguita (“Little Turtle”), in January. During protests prompted by Tortuguita’s killing, dozens of forest defenders have been arrested on state “domestic terrorism” charges, 23 of them during a concert.

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