In early June, the Atlanta City Council voted 11-4 to approve $67 million in funding for “Cop City” — more than doubling the amount of taxpayer dollars going to a new police training facility, even after hundreds of people signed up to give public comments in opposition during 14 hours of public testimony.
The facility, backed by the corporation-funded Atlanta Police Foundation, has plans to take out nearly 300 acres of forest in the Atlanta area and replace it with a complex dedicated to strengthening policing, a system that continues to unjustly kill and harm so many people, especially Black people. Activists across the U.S. have been vocal about its dangers for months, and the movement gained international attention when police killed Manual Paez Teran during a protest where people gathered on the potential project site to show their opposition for the plan moving forward. The autopsy report showed that Teran, an environmental activist, was shot 57 times.
According to one Atlanta city council member, the entire process of allocating funding and approving plans for this facility has seriously lacked transparency, and the recent vote moved forward amidst widespread community concern. And even after activists worked with the city to ensure people would have what they needed to speak at the hearing, most accommodations — like bringing food and drinks and easily entering when needed — were not allowed. On top of that, the doors opened two hours later than usual.
The information around the costs of the project have also evolved and increased since its inception. Findings from the Atlanta Community Press Collective’s investigation on public official correspondence around the project showed that the construction will cost the public considerably more than what the city originally proposed. In 2021, the city initially claimed that Cop City would cost taxpayers $30 million, but the investigation revealed that the city intends to pay an estimated $67 million, with $1.2 million in annual payments over 30 years to the Atlanta Police Foundation.
Despite this devastating funding approval, and the city’s actions that made it possible, the movement to #StopCopCity is strong. Here are groups that are taking action that you can support:
- #StopCopCity continues to post information on their website and social media channels on the inner workings of the Atlanta Police Foundation and the truth behind this project.
- Cop City Vote is organizing to bring this decision to the ballot box — and making sure that communities finally get heard. The team is collecting 60,000 signatures from Atlanta residents to make this happen. Share this form with your friends and networks in the area.
- Stop Cop City Solidarity built an interactive map that shows all of the contractors, donors, and board members that are somehow involved in pushing the project forward. Wells Fargo, a corporation we’ve written at length on for its legacy of harm on the Black community, is on that list. Check out ways to take action in your community.
In moments like this, we need to tap into our energy and imagination, and stand in solidarity with people leading this movement in Atlanta and across the country, who believe that a world where all people–no matter their race–feel safe is possible.