Almost three years ago, two Atlanta police officers executed Rayshard Brooks, an unarmed 27-year-old Black father of two, in a Wendy’s parking lot. In the immediate aftermath of the shooting, the two cops were fired and charged with murder. The Atlanta Black community reclaimed the Wendy’s as a community center and proposed the construction of a Rayshard Brooks memorial.
Unfortunately, the Atlanta stormtroopers raided the Wendy’s site in 2020 and violently cleared the community encampment there. Any plans for a memorial or community center were scrapped.
Pouring salt in the wound, racist cop Garrett Rolfe, who fired the shots that killed Brooks, was reinstated in May 2021. Just over a year later, in August 2022, Georgia prosecutors dropped all charges against Rolfe and his partner, Devin Brosnan.
This string of racist and reactionary actions taken by the Atlanta city and Georgia state governments, along with their allies in the mainstream media, continue to enact an agenda aimed at stifling anti-racist dissent and increasing surveillance of oppressed communities.
As part of this reactionary agenda, Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms announced in April 2021 a plan for a brand new $90 million, 85-acre police training facility on what has been a public forest for decades. Several months later, the Atlanta City Council rubber-stamped the plan.
Even in the face of severe opposition and sustained protests, the city has forged ahead with construction of what has been dubbed “Cop City.”
On Jan. 18, 2023, the police and officials demonstrated just how far they would go to secure the site for what is really a domestic military base. In short, they would kill to do so.
That day, a Georgia State Trooper executed a queer environmental activist of color, Manuel Esteban Paez Terán (known by the nickname Tortuguita.)
Terán was involved in a two-year effort by local activists to organize forest sit-ins against the training center’s construction. For Terán’s dedication to anti-racism and anti-capitalism, the Atlanta police shot them 13 times.
The Georgia Bureau of Investigation has kept the facts under lock and key, making the community and Terán’s family question the “official” narrative that they fired upon police first. There is no reason to believe that account.
Based on all those who knew Terán, they were a fervent pacifist dedicated to the preservation of the planet’s natural wonders. Nonetheless, the GBI has depicted them as a violent lunatic aimed at murdering police. Per usual, the police narrative does not pass the smell test.
Georgia police have only escalated their efforts against the community protesting the construction of Cop City. This has included multiple raids with heavily armed officers deploying crowd dispersal weapons against all those in the forested area.
Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp took the outrageous steps of calling in the National Guard and charging several Cop City protesters with “domestic terrorism.”
As racist police escalate their war against Black and Brown communities and the broader working class, so must the struggle for liberation maintain its efforts to uncover the capitalist system for what it is: rotten and racist at every level of society.
Stand with the Cop City protestors! Down with fascist training centers!
Justice for Rayshard Brooks! Justice for Tortuguita!
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