Several Cop City activists have been arrested and charged with domestic terrorism—something that has long been a legal and rhetorical weapon of state power.

by Eric Laursen, In These Times

Last month, Georgia police assassinated environmental activist Manuel Esteban Paez ​Tortuguita” Terán, who was defending Atlanta’s Weelaunee forest from the construction of a large police training facility, known by opponents as Cop City.” During the same raid, seven of Tortuguita’s fellow activists were arrested and charged with domestic terrorism. If they are convicted, they will receive mandatory minimum sentences of 5 to 35 years in prison.

Reporting for In These Times over two decades ago, journalist Eric Laursen described how the U.S. government used terrorism charges to suppress environmental protests. His subject, Long Island activist Connor Cash, was eventually acquitted in 2004.

Protesters gathered on 5th Avenue and march to JP Morgan Headquarters in New York to rally against Atlanta Cop City on March 9, 2023

As people continue to mourn Tortuguita with vigils and protests, this piece reminds us that, while their death is shocking, government intimidation is nothing new, and domestic terrorism charges have long been a legal and rhetorical weapon of state power.

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