Kamau Franklin and Mariah Parker on the fight to stop Cop City in Atlanta.

By Maximillian Alvarez, In These Times

The 2020 protests that took place in the immediate wake of Minneapolis police murdering George Floyd were a historic call for America to reckon with its racist, oppressive system of state-sanctioned police violence. Three years later, rather than a reckoning, that same system, along with the political and business elites propping it up, are giving us ​Cop City” (ie, the Atlanta Public Safety Training Center, the Atlanta Police Foundation’s 85-acre, $90-million police militarization and training complex where law enforcement from around the US and beyond will, among other things, train for urban warfare scenarios). Plans to build Cop City have been mired in controversy and civil rights violations from the beginning — from the city government’s attempts to ignore residents’ and activists’ objections and force through the construction of Cop City in Atlanta’s ecologically vital Weelaunee Forest, to police raiding an encampment of peaceful protestors and murdering one of them, Manuel (“Tortuguita”) Esteban Paez Terán, who was shot 57 times, to the truly Orwellian crackdown on protestors and advocates, dozens of whom are being arrested and charged with ​domestic terrorism.”

forest defense does not equal domestic terrorism sign as stop cop city protest

As Micah Herskind writes, ​The struggle to Stop Cop City is not just a battle over the creation of a $90 million police urban warfare center. It’s not just a fight to protect the 381 acres of forest land, known as one of the ​four lungs” of Atlanta, currently under threat of destruction. It’s not just a conflict over how the city invests the over $30 million it has pledged to the project, to be supplemented by at least $60 million in private funding. The movement is all of those things. But even more fundamentally, the struggle to Stop Cop City is a battle for the future of Atlanta. It’s a struggle over who the city is for: the city’s corporate and state ruling class actors who have demanded that Cop City be built, or the people of Atlanta who have consistently voiced their opposition and demanded a different vision for the city.” Make no mistake, though, the fight to Stop Cop City is all of our fight, and that very much includes the labor movement. In this mini-cast, we speak with Kamau Franklin and Mariah Parker about Cop City, the fight to stop it, and why labor needs to get off the sidelines and join that fight.

Kamau Franklin has been a dedicated community organizer for over thirty years, beginning in New York City and now based in Atlanta. He is also a lawyer, writer, and the founder of Community Movement Builders, Inc. Mariah Parker is labor and community organizer, a rapper (known by the stage name Linqua Franqa), and recently served as District 2 County Commissioner for Athens-Clarke County in Athens, Georgia, from 2018 – 2022.

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