At Energy Allies, we know that achieving energy justice is intrinsically linked to achieving energy, environmental, and racial justice.
We stand alongside the Defend Atlanta Forest “Stop Cop City” movement. We find it antithetical to our goals for an equitable energy future that 61 Forest Defenders in the Defend Atlanta Forest, “Stop Cop City” movement were indicted in Georgia on racketeering charges. We are deeply disappointed by the mayor of Atlanta and the state of Georgia’s decision to silence dissent and support police impunity.
The Defend Atlanta Forest “Stop Cop City” movement coalesced Atlanta-based groups that originally formed in 2020 to support the Black Lives Matter (BLM) movement, today their advocates are known as the Atlanta Forest Defenders. The BLM movement called for the defunding of police departments that continued to systematically harm and kill Black and brown individuals with little to no consequence. In response, many local governments decided to increase already oversaturated police presence and departments under the guise of “reform.” These reforms ignore proven research that community-based policing and investment is more effective in creating safe, healthy, and thriving communities in the long term. Energy Allies recognizes the history of police violence and firmly believes that investing in communities and individuals, rather than in policing, provides the greatest opportunities for all.
The Atlanta Public Safety Training Center is one such “solution” proposed by the Mayor’s Office of Atlanta. It would be the largest facility of its kind in the country. Not to mention, it comes at a price tag of $90 million. The Center would include a “mock city” – which the Forest Defenders have coined “Cop City” – for police to be trained in repressing mass unrest, similar to the militarized police response utilized against the BLM movement in 2020. The Defend the Atlanta Forest movement was formed in response to this misallocation of resources by the Mayor’s Office. This fight against the construction of the Atlanta Public Safety Training center has been ongoing for over two years, and was brought national attention by the murder of Manuel “Tortuguita” Terán who was shot 57 times by police during a horrific militarized raid of the Defend Atlanta Forest, Stop Cop City encampment. Tortuguita’s murder illustrates exactly why cities don’t need militarized responses to protest and dissent.
The center, first announced in April of 2021, is slated to be built in over 300 acres of the Atlanta Forest near a historically Black community. This land has a brutal history – from being forcibly taken from the Muscogee (Creek) peoples over the last 300 years, used as a plantation reliant on slave labor, and then for decades as a forced labor camp. The siting of undesirable infrastructure in communities of color is as American as apple pie, as is well known by communities housing industrial facilities like power plants, landfills, and electrical substations. It’s imperative that this land, now providing important resilience to climate disaster, a home to rare amphibians and wading birds, and an urban green environment for community members, be protected as such.
Now, the City of Atlanta’s has disappointed us yet again with the recent Attorney General’s Office RICO Indictment of over 60 Atlanda Forest Defenders. The indictment calls the Forest Defenders “militant anarchists” and denounces their efforts towards “collectivism, mutualism/mutual aid, and social solidarity” and the belief in relying on others instead of the government for support. Furthermore, it criticizes the direct actions Atlanta Forest Defenders have taken to halt the construction of Cop City. The use of mutual aid and direct action are age-old organizing practices, used extensively during the civil rights movements, suffragette and women’s rights movements, and LGBTQ movements. Our Team at Energy Allies condemns this indictment and fully supports the Atlanta Forest Defenders.
The indictment frames the Forest Defenders as a small radical group of activists. In reality, the Forest Defenders have developed a robust movement, inspiring activists across the country to help defend this local forest, and stand against the ongoing militarization of the police. The Atlanta Forest Defenders turned out hundreds of activists at town hall meetings and garnered the support of hundreds of thousands online. Even with this outpouring of community opposition, the Atlanta City Council has continued to move forward with the project. This week alone, volunteers and organizers submitted over 116,000 signatures collected this summer to put Cop City on the ballot, and the Atlanta City Council is already resisting beginning the signature verification process. Energy Allies strongly supports the efforts of the Defend Atlanta Forest movement. We admire Tortuguita and all the advocates fighting for racial and ecological justice today. We believe communities most impacted by climate change are best equipped to fight for a better future.
“DEFEND THE ATLANTA FOREST: An Autonomous Movement for the Future of South Atlanta.” https://defendtheatlantaforest.org/.
Fulton County Superior Court. State of Georgia. August 29, 2023, https://www.fultonclerk.org/DocumentCenter/View/2156/CRIMINAL-INDICTMENT
Rico, R.J. “‘Stop Cop City’ Petition Campaign in Limbo after Signatures Presented to Atlanta Officials.” Updated 4:15 PM CDT, September 11, 2023. Associated Press, https://apnews.com/article/atlanta-cop-city-referendum-signatures-4b617a220807b6701c9f46745e4762c4.
Rico, R.J. “61 Indicted in Georgia on Racketeering Charges Connected to ‘Stop Cop City’ Movement.” Associated Press, Updated 6:01 PM CDT, September 5, 2023, https://apnews.com/article/atlanta-cop-city-protests-rico-charges-3177a63ac1bd31a1594bed6584e9f330.