Atlanta’s controversial “Cop City” is a done deal. The city has finalized a $90 million investment in a massive and militarized law enforcement training center, despite a majority of residents being against it.
The Atlanta City Council voted 10-4 on Sept. 8 to sign off on the police training facility, which will sit on nearly 400 acres of forested land. The deal had the backing of outgoing Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms and Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp. Incoming Mayor Andre Dickens is also on board while 98 percent of residents local to the area who responded to a survey opposed the plans, Daily Kos reported.
The facility has been dubbed “Cop City” and is expected to include shooting ranges, space for weapons and explosions testing, and burning building tests. It will be located on the old Atlanta Prison Farm. The project is being led by the Atlanta Police Foundation (APF), with two-thirds of the money coming from corporate and private donors. The public will pay the rest.
Of the Atlanta residents polled in a survey asking them to share their knowledge and views on the Cop City proposal, 98 percent responded that they did not support police or fire facilities being built in the area. The Organization for Human Rights and Democracy supported the coordination and marketing of a survey, which was designed and led by Social Insights Research.
Those against the project are speaking out. Critics, including criminal defense and civil rights attorney Tiffany Roberts say Cop City will not address the root causes of crime. Instead, it will militarize Atlanta police and give them more resources that are unlikely to change things for the community.
“Every branch of city government has turned its back on Black Atlantans in favor of caving to alarmist politics either driven by white fear or capitalizing on inadequate violence intervention resources within Black communities,” Roberts wrote in an article for Essence.
Roberts tweeted, “I penned this piece for @Essence grounded in the brokenness from which our City officials perpetually avert their gaze. I was always told not to be weary in well-doing. Atlanta makes heeding that word more difficult by the day.”
Jamal Taylor, the organizer of a march against Cop City, said that the facility isn’t just a training center for police. It’s “a war base,” Taylor said in an October press statement from Community Movement Builders, a collective of Black people working to create sustainable self-determining communities through cooperative economic advancement and collective community organizing.
“Police will learn military-like maneuvers to kill Black people and control our bodies and movements,” Taylor said. “The facility includes shooting ranges, plans for bomb testing, and will practice tear gas deployment. They are practicing how to make sure poor and working-class people stay in line. So when the police kill us in the streets again, as they did to Rayshard Brooks in 2020, they can control our protests and community response to how they continually murder our people.”
A 27-year-old Black man, Brooks was fatally shot by Atlanta Police Department officer Garrett Rolfe after falling asleep in the drive-through lane at a local Wendy’s restaurant. When he was being arrested, Brooks grabbed the officer’s taser and tried to flee. The chase ended with Brooks being shot twice.
Photo: Mayor-elect Andre Dickens of Atlanta speaks with reporters after a meeting at the White House, Dec. 14, 2021. AP Photo/Patrick Semansky)/Atlanta Police Foundation
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