Major Corporations and Institutions Are Helping to Build “Cop City” in Atlanta

In 2021, LittleSis and Shade of Change profiled 1,400 corporate connections to 22 main police foundations throughout the USA. These connections spanned each trade, together with telecommunications, actual property, finance, huge tech, and oil and gasoline, in addition to universities, sports activities franchises, and cultural establishments.

Regardless of the USA spending upwards of $100 billion on policing every year, police foundations act as a backchannel for company and rich pursuits by funding policing even additional, including to already overinflated budgets with none required public oversight, approval, or accountability. These foundations fundraise tens of millions every year with little transparency and supply a slush fund for the police. The funding contributes to police militarization by the acquisition of weapons, physique armor, and controversial surveillance know-how resembling “predictive policing” software program.

There isn’t any clearer instance of this relationship than in Atlanta, the place the police basis pledged to lift $60 million for a proposed “Cop City,” a police coaching facility that will be constructed on 85 acres of protected forest land. The coaching facility will function “a mock village, an emergency car driving course, firing vary, and an space for explosives coaching.” Nevertheless, whereas the Atlanta Police Basis is footing a lot of the invoice, Atlantans can be compelled to pay a further $30 million for the ability, regardless of wide-reaching and vocal community opposition.

This push for Cop Metropolis from the corporate-backed Atlanta Police Basis comes on the heels of “Operation Defend”, a 2017 effort to develop a community of almost 11,000 surveillance cameras and license plate readers throughout Atlanta. The undertaking made Atlanta essentially the most closely surveilled metropolis within the U.S.

This submit highlights Atlanta Police Basis’s company backers and administrators, lots of whom have made statements or pledges supporting Black and Brown communities within the wake of George Floyd’s homicide in 2020. But these identical company actors at the moment are leveraging their affect and capital to push ahead the Cop Metropolis improvement, which can invariably hurt those self same communities by the additional militarization of police.


UPS, whose headquarters is in Atlanta, is committed to “creating social impression, advancing variety, fairness and inclusion,” and “constructing stronger communities.” Within the aftermath of the homicide of George Floyd, UPS pledged 10.7 million towards racial justice in 2020, throughout which era UPS CEO Carol Tomé said, “We won’t stand quietly or idly on the sidelines of this problem.”

Nevertheless, UPS’s backing of police foundations undermines any advantage signaling. The multinational delivery large sponsors the Louisville Police Foundation, which gives direct funding to cops and cosponsored a pro-police rally with the Fraternal Order of Police (FOP) lodge, River Metropolis FOP, and holds two seats on the Atlanta Police Foundation board.

These seats are stuffed by UPS’s Chief Authorized and Compliance Officer Norman Brothers Jr. and former UPS Senior Vice President of U.S. Operations Calvin Darden. Darden previously served on the board of administrators for Coca-Cola Enterprises. Coca-Cola has a historical past of donating tens of millions to the Atlanta Police Basis, and until April 2021, had a seat on the inspiration’s board of trustees.

Georgia State College

Georgia State College touts itself as “a college for all,” and in 2021 President of Georgia State College Mark Becker said Derek Chauvin’s conviction was “an indication of our judicial system serving justice.”

This assertion got here a yr after 150 college members despatched an open letter to Becker asking the college to satisfy the second after the homicide of George Floyd. The letter introduced a handful of variety, inclusion, and equitable requests together with offering skilled improvement alternatives supporting the development of Black workers and school, guaranteeing COVID-19 reopening protects the big inhabitants of Black college students and workers, and ending GSU’s involvement with the Georgia Worldwide Regulation Enforcement Trade (GILEE). The latter “companions with worldwide regulation enforcement businesses that limit civil liberties, commit human rights violations, and/or promote bigotry, signaling an aggressive, militarized over-policing of Black folks and Black communities.” GILEE continues to be energetic at Georgia State College.

Georgia State College Adjunct Lecturer Dr. Deepak Raghavan serves on the Atlanta Police Foundation Govt Committee. He’s also a previous chair of the Georgia State Basis Board of Trustees and at the moment serves on the boards of preparatory faculty Woodward Academy and Zoo Atlanta.

Encourage Manufacturers

Atlanta-based Encourage Manufacturers is a much less acquainted title than the franchises it homes below its umbrella resembling Arby’s, Buffalo Wild Wings, Jimmy John’s, Dunkin Donuts, and Baskin-Robbins – simply to call a couple of. Encourage Manufacturers proudly claims that they’re “Allies and Good Residents.” Their CEO, Paul Brown, sits on the Atlanta Police Foundation Board of Trustees in addition to on the boards of Youngsters’s Healthcare of Atlanta, the Georgia Tech Basis, and the Metro Atlanta Chamber of Commerce Govt Committee. In 2022, Atlanta Journal listed Brown as certainly one of Atlanta’s most powerful leaders.

In 2020, after the homicide of George Floyd, Brown posted a letter on LinkedIn during which he wrote, “We should proceed to be Allies supporting one another no matter backgrounds or beliefs.” The tie between Encourage Manufacturers and the Atlanta Police Basis is a symbiotic one as a member of the Atlanta Police Basis, Marshall Freeman, sits on the board of The Inspire Brand Foundation.

Waffle Home

Waffle Home has a history of controversy associated to sexual harassment and racism. Between the years 1995 and 2000, the corporate was charged with 90 lawsuits and in 2018, Bernice King known as for a nationwide boycott towards the restaurant after a number of incidents occurred, two involving police brutality. In a single incident, a pair was detained after disputing their invoice. In response Waffle Home said, “each side might have dealt with this case higher.” Waffle Home refused accountability within the aftermath of the second incident as effectively, an incident during which Chikesia Clemons was wrestled to the bottom by three cops.

Waffle Home CEO and President Walt Ehmer sits on the Atlanta Police Foundation Board of Trustees, on Aaron’s Board of Directors, and was tapped by President Trump in 2020 to advise the White Home on financial restoration.

Wells Fargo

Wells Fargo has been linked to several police foundations through the years. On the time of the discharge of this report, Wells Fargo had board seats in Atlanta and Charlotte and was a donor to foundations in Sacramento, Seattle, and St. Louis. In 2020, the financial institution introduced that it could pause donations to police foundations. Nevertheless, Shade of Change couldn’t confirm that this has been achieved. Police foundations can conceal their donors and actions from public view and several other foundations have scrubbed their websites to cowl their tracks.

Wells Fargo has additionally persistently been taken to court docket for fraud and discrimination. In 2020, the financial institution agreed to pay $3 billion to settle fraudulent gross sales expenses and is at the moment being sued for race discrimination in mortgage lending practices. The lawsuit is supported by high-profile lawyer Ben Crump who represents the households of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor.

Southeast Small Enterprise Chief and South Atlanta Space President at Wells Fargo Mitch Graul sits on the Atlanta Police Foundation Board of Trustees. He additionally serves on the Atlanta Sports Council Board of Administrators.


In 2020, JPMorgan committed $30 billion to advance racial fairness and mentioned the significance of being held accountable on their web site. This contrasts with the financial institution’s historical past of racial discrimination as they settled a lawsuit filed by former and present staff for $24 million in 2018 and are at the moment being sued by Dr. Malika Mitchell-Stewart who was denied service at a department in Texas.

The financial institution can also be a giant backer of the blue. In 2011, JPMorgan gave the New York Metropolis Police Basis $4.6 million, turning the NYPD right into a militarized presence throughout Occupy Wall Avenue. Heidi Boghosian of the Nationwide Legal professionals Guild stated it created an look of “the police defending company pursuits somewhat than defending the First Modification rights of the folks.” JPMorgan’s Head of Regional Funding Banking, John Richert, serves on the board on the Atlanta Police Foundation and is on the board at Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta.

Residence Depot

Atlanta-based Residence Depot appears to put money into Black communities particularly by the Residence Depot Basis partnership with the Westside Future Fund, which contributes to constructing “inexpensive mixed-income housing” and revitalizing parks. Nevertheless, the fund can also be liable for introducing “Westside Blue”, a safety patrol program with the Atlanta Police Basis and the Atlanta Police Division.” The house enchancment retail company serves on the boards of each the Detroit Public Safety Foundation and the Atlanta Police Foundation. Vice President of Expertise Daniel Grider represents Residence Depot on the Atlanta Police Basis Board of Trustees, serves on the Residence Depot Basis Board, and was beforehand a police officer in Arkansas for 9 years.

For the reason that unique report got here out late final yr, Residence Depot has had some pushback from stakeholders. Their 2022 proxy filings present that shareholders urged the corporate’s board of administrators to supervise an impartial racial audit analyzing the corporate’s adversarial impression on nonwhite stakeholders and communities of colour.. The proposal included prolonged references to the corporate’s donations to police foundations. In the end, Residence Depot’s board voted towards the proposal.

Delta Airways

In an employee memo following the homicide of George Floyd, CEO Ed Bastian stated that Delta Airways would “make an impression to take a stand towards racism and injustice, from applications to coverage modifications” and outlined steps Delta was taking towards racial fairness throughout Black Historical past Month in 2021. The airline even had Black Lives Matter pins made.

However Delta’s variety, fairness, and inclusion branding obtained backlash after the airline was caught supporting racist politicians. In 2020, a petition challenged the Atlanta-based airline’s hypocrisy demanding Delta cease bankrolling the campaigns of David Perdue, identified for mispronouncing Vice President Kamala Harris’ title in a classically racist way, and former Senator of Georgia Kelly Loeffler who opposed the WNBA’s plans to honor the BLM motion. Loeffler stated, “The reality is, we want much less—no more politics in sports activities. In a time when polarizing politics is as divisive as ever, sports activities has the ability to be a unifying antidote.” Loeffler was additionally co-owner of the Atlanta Dream at the time.

Tad Hutcheson, Vice President of Group and Public Affairs at Delta Airways, sits on the Atlanta Police Foundation’s Board of Trustees and is board chair at Junior Achievement of Georgia.

Atlanta Hawks and State Farm Area

Police foundations companion with main sports activities groups for occasions by sponsoring “Crime Stoppers’’ tiplines, which contribute to community policing, a well-liked copaganda fable. Copaganda is an try to painting cops as heroic, pleasant, and fun-loving in order to overshadow the actions of some “bad apples”. Regardless of athletes standing up towards racial injustice, a number of groups from numerous leagues stay tied to police foundations, from the New York Yankees to the Seattle Seahawks.

After the loss of life of George Floyd, Atlanta Hawks and State Farm Area CEO Steven Koonin tweeted criticizing silence and stated, “Cease hiding behind your badges, cease breaking dad and mom hearts, and cease pretending this isn’t taking place.” Koonin himself sits on the Atlanta Police Basis’s Board of Trustees and the airline was the chief sponsor of the Basis’s 2019 signature occasion, A Night time in Blue.


It solely took Amazon six days after the loss of life of George Floyd to hitch the remainder of the company twitterverse and present indicators of solidarity by tweeting, “The inequitable and brutal therapy of Black folks in our nation should cease.”

An avid supporter of police foundations, the web retailer helps police foundations in Los Angeles, New York Metropolis, and Seattle, and Amazon’s Senior Public Relations Supervisor, Nikki Forman, sits on the board on the Atlanta Police Foundation. Beforehand, she labored for the inspiration as their Director of Communications.

Amazon permits police foundations throughout the nation to gather donations by their AmazonSmile program which has helped assist foundations in Los Angeles, Chicago, Seattle, Cleveland, and San Diego. The corporate additionally has a historical past of supplying police departments with tech and surveillance instruments, together with promoting its cloud services, granting police access to personal information with out person consent by its Amazon Ring surveillance gadgets, and letting police use its facial recognition software program, known as Rekognition.


Previously generally known as Taser, tech and weapons firm Axon is represented by Gross sales Lead Richard Allen on the Atlanta Police Foundation’s Younger Executives Board. Along with backing the Atlanta Police Basis, Axon supports foundations in Boston, Charlotte, Los Angeles, San Jose, and Seattle.

Axon produces electroshock weapons, physique cameras and different policing gear that’s extensively utilized by police departments throughout the nation. The company states that its Tasers are “non-lethal,” however Reuters has documented how police have killed over 1000 folks with Tasers since 2000. In 2012 and 2013, Axon donated 80 of its stun weapons to the Los Angeles Police Basis in an effort to equip the LAPD with its merchandise and not using a public oversight course of. Axon was lauded as a sponsor of the police basis and have become a donor to the inspiration. In 2021, they renewed their 5-year contract with the LAPD making the police power the most important deployer of vitality weapons in the USA.


Law enforcement officials can get a discount at most Chick-fil-A areas, so it doesn’t come as a shock that Evan Karanovich, the rooster eatery’s Lead Advisor to the Chairman & CEO, serves on the Atlanta Police Foundation’s Younger Executives Board. Previous to becoming a member of Chick-fil-A, Karanovich worked on the State Capitol in Atlanta the place he served as a senior advisor to Senator David Perdue.

In June 2020, Chick-fil-A CEO Dan Cathy wrote in a press release, “Racism should not have any place in society. Not now. Not ever.” Cathy additionally spent millions creating the land that Trilith Studios sits, and the place a number of Marvel field workplace hits have been shot together with Black Panther and Wakanda Ceaselessly. Trilith Studios and its neighboring city are at the moment being sued by a gaggle of Black residents for failing to answer racist incidents.

The Atlanta Police Basis additionally has a partnership with the company’s basis which seeks to “construct—and execute–a plan for a safer Atlanta” however by serving on the board of the police basis, they play an vital position in making Atlanta essentially the most surveilled metropolis in the USA.

Company sponsorship of police foundations, which function main contributors to unregulated and unaccountable policing in our cities, undermine any statements these firms attempt to make about their commitments to racial justice or police accountability.

Whereas these firms steer the Atlanta Police Basis to develop Cop Metropolis and development presses on, residents have created an uprising. The Intercept applauded the motion for its “endurance” and one protestor famous, “I didn’t ever assume I’d see a motion the place medical doctors, preschoolers and their dad and mom, anarchists, and Metropolis Council folks have been all rallying collectively.” The Atlanta DSA, who criticized native management for his or her “alignment with company elites over the working-class folks of Atlanta”, has mobilized residents to combat for a safe Atlanta, one with out elevated policing, militarization, and carceral punishment. Save The Outdated Atlanta Jail Farm (STOAPF) has advocated for higher methods to utilize and preserve the greenspace resembling nature preserves and group gardens. Protestors have arrange a city of their own whereas they defend the forestland in hopes of defending it from the ecological devastation this improvement would carry to the realm.