Natasha Lennard: The Crackdown on Cop City Protesters Is So Brutal Because of the Movement’s Success

One protester was killed by police, 20 were charged under a “domestic terror” law, and Georgia’s governor gave himself broad “emergency” powers.

The Intercept, January 27, 2023

THE MOVEMENT TO stop the construction of a $90 million police training center atop vast acres of Atlanta forest has been extraordinarily successful over the last year. With little national fanfare, Defend the Atlanta Forest/Stop Cop City activists nimbly deployed a range of tactics: encampments, tree-sits, peaceful protest marches, carefully targeted property damage, local community events, investigative research, and, at times, direct confrontation with police forces attempting to evict protesters from the forest. The proposed militarized training compound known as Cop City has thus far been held at bay.

The Atlanta-based movement should be seen as an example of rare staying power, thoughtful strategizing, and the crucial articulation of environmentalist politics situated in anti-racist, Indigenous, and abolitionist struggle. Unsurprisingly, however, significant national attention has only been drawn to the forest defenders in the last week thanks to the extreme law enforcement repression they are now facing.

A forest defender was killed by police last Wednesday, and a total of 19 protesters now face capricious and ungrounded domestic terror charges for their involvement in the movement — a rare deployment of a state domestic terror statute, threatening to exhaust and crush a resilient and developing movement.

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