February 23, 2023
The campaign to defend the forest in Atlanta, Georgia has become one of the most vibrant movements of the post-Trump era, interweaving environmentalism, abolitionism, and the fight against gentrification. Yet as police shift to employing lethal violence and indiscriminate terrorism charges, it has reached a critical juncture. Participants explore how this struggle has developed over the past year, reflecting on the practices that have given it strength and analyzing the challenges before it.
The Stakes of the Fight
Our society is at a crisis point. Decades of escalating economic pressure have created rampant inequality and desperation. Rather than addressing the root causes of these, politicians across the political spectrum continue channeling more and more money to police, relying on them to suppress unrest by force alone. This dependance has enabled police departments and their allies to consume a vast amount of public resources. Meanwhile, driven by the same economic pressures, catastrophic climate change is generating hurricanes, forest fires, droughts, and widespread ecological collapse.
In this context, starting in April 2021, a bold movement set out to defend a forest in Atlanta, Georgia, where local politicians and corporate profiteers want to build a police training compound and a soundstage for the film industry. The training compound, known as Cop City, would be the largest police training facility in the United States. It would devastate the South River Forest, also known as Weelaunee Forest in honor of the Muscogee Creek people who lived there until they were deported in the Trail of Tears.