Mayor Attempts to Reframe “Cop City” as Environmentally Beneficial

Atlanta, Georgia – Atlanta Mayor Andre Dickens introduced Tuesday that the Metropolis of Atlanta and DeKalb County have reached an settlement relating to allowing points that had beforehand slowed their plans to construct an elaborate 85-acre police coaching facility in the course of a forest in unincorporated DeKalb County, southeast of Atlanta. The coaching middle, nicknamed ‘Cop Metropolis,’ has sparked massive opposition; violent police repression of the movement against the project just lately led to SWAT officers shooting and killing a protester.

Dickens’ announcement diversified little from the Atlanta Police Basis and the Metropolis of Atlanta’s beforehand said plans. Nonetheless, apparently responding to criticism from environmental teams and group members, the mayor tried to reframe the challenge as environmentally useful to the South River watershed and surrounding forest.

“I do know there have been questions concerning the environmental impression of this challenge, which is a spotlight of this settlement we’re saying immediately with DeKalb County,” stated Dickens. “The 85-acre facility will probably be constructed on a set of parcels owned by town of Atlanta that totals greater than 380 acres. The remainder of the land, which is roughly 300 acres, will proceed to be inexperienced area out there to the general public.”

Dickens claimed that the realm slated for destruction by town accommodates solely “invasive species, tender woods, weeds, asphalt and rubble.” However those that have been to the forest, together with a number of Unicorn Riot contributors, know that the 85 acres slated for destruction include an precise, thriving ecosystem.

The mayor has deemed this new plan a “compromise,” however these protesting outdoors the press convention say no compromise has been reached with them.

“The town has lied concerning the Cop Metropolis acreage earlier than,” wrote a few of the protestors in a statement released by the Atlanta Group Press Collective. Based on the group, the 85 acres consists of solely the footprint of buildings, not everything of forested acreage that will probably be destroyed by the challenge.

“In August 2021, when Atlanta Metropolis Council delayed their vote on Cop Metropolis, the APF claimed an analogous ‘compromise:’ as a substitute of clearing the 381 acres they’re leased by the Metropolis of Atlanta, the APF would scale back the footprint of buildings and impermeable surfaces to solely 85 acres, whereas extra of the land can be cleared and changed into turf fields, capturing ranges, horse stables labeled ‘inexperienced area.’”– Atlanta Community Press Collective

Jasmine Burnett, with Group Motion Builders, stated that her group will not be assuaged by guarantees of “inexperienced area” both.

“Our agency line isn’t any cop metropolis anyplace,” stated Jasmine Burnett, Organizing Director at Group Motion Builders. “No destruction of the forest in any respect. I do know, they’re attempting to harp on the truth that it’s solely 85 acres. And allegedly, the remainder will probably be left for public use. However that’s 85 acres an excessive amount of.”

“We’re additionally calling for the costs to be dropped in opposition to all the protesters who’ve been charged with any crimes, however particularly the home terrorism prices,” stated Burnett. “So yeah, in the end, the combat to cease cop metropolis continues past immediately, nothing has actually modified apart from the truth that they on the final minute made all of us come over right here for a final minute press convention.”

Jaike Spottedwolf, who was additionally protesting outdoors Metropolis Corridor throughout the press convention, echoed the considerations that town continues to lie concerning the challenge. “We all know how they function,” they stated. “We all know that they’re going to get in there, begin constructing after which take the entire thing down at that time, we gained’t be capable to combat something.”

Within the nameless press launch posted by the Atlanta Group Press Collective, the authors additionally identified that neither this present promise, nor previous guarantees, have been legally binding. These against the challenge are involved it might be nothing greater than a ploy to distract opposition to the challenge.

“Nothing within the lease settlement was binding relating to this promise, and shortly the land disturbance permits shifted — almost doubling to 171 acres,” the group wrote of the earlier deal.

“Like all different factors of ‘compromise,’ this has proved empty rhetoric to cowl over the undemocratic railroading of this challenge on to un-represented, disenfranchised residents of Atlanta and Dekalb County. That is extra backroom speak between highly effective elites and their darkish cash contributors.”– Anonymous Press Release by #StopCopCity Protesters

The announcement comes lower than two weeks after police shot and killed forest defender Manuel ‘Tortuguita’ Terán, claiming that Terán had shot an Georgia State Patrol trooper within the stomach throughout a raid on the forest. Activist teams, nonetheless, have referred to as that narrative into query, demanding the discharge of all info out there on the incident to the household for an impartial investigation. The trooper who killed Terán has not been named. Protest teams are demanding the discharge of his identify.

In the course of the press convention, neither the politicians nor the police chief talked about Terán’s killing.

Just lately, greater than 1,300 local weather justice teams have signed a statement calling for the fast resignation of Mayor Dickens amidst rising controversy over the cop metropolis challenge and Terán’s killing, in keeping with the Atlanta Group Press Collective.

The ‘inexperienced area’ and eco-management elements of the plan should not new improvements or concessions, however had been offered by engineers in an October 26, 2021 assembly of the Group Stakeholder Advisory Committee (CSAC). (Recordings of CSAC conferences had been first obtained and released by the Atlanta Group Press Collective).

Within the October 2021 assembly, Lily Ponitz, a former environmental engineer serving on the committee as a involved native resident, informed the committee that areas slated to be used as public parks embrace contamination that the Atlanta Police Basis and town of Atlanta instructed environmental contractors to disregard – allegations that weren’t challenged by both employed engineers on the decision or the leaders and police officers on the committee. Ponitz was later unceremoniously kicked off the advisory committee as a consequence of her dissent relating to parts of the challenge.

Advisory Committee Chair Alison Clark, who was instrumental in eradicating Ponitz for her crucial feedback, can be President of the Boulder Stroll Home-owner’s Affiliation.

Bob Hughes [Project Manager working with Atlanta Police Foundation]: And I believe it’s vital to level out, as a result of I do know final time we there was some specific about concern of constructing certain if there’s an environmental difficulty that must be cleaned up, that it’s addressed, that that this environmental research isn’t just contained in the 85 acres which can be the Police Basis lease land, however we’re taking a look at every little thing outdoors of that in order that, you recognize, if there’s one thing there, we wish to understand it.

And I believe you all wish to know, all of us wish to know that will get cleaned up.

Lily Ponitz: In order that’s simply the place I really don’t suppose what you’re saying is true. And I want to see on a map precisely what areas you’re defining in your environmental web site evaluation and what areas are within the plan for the location plan.

Alan Williams [Project Manager, Atlanta Police Foundation]: Properly, our Part One is within the public proper now.

Lilz Ponitz: Yeah, I do know. I’ve learn it.

So what I’m saying is, there are areas within the web site that you simply guys unnoticed investigating and I perceive APF [Atlanta Police Foundation] informed you to try this or town of Atlanta informed you to try this. They’re your consumer.

However what I’m attempting to advocate for is a full evaluation of the entire property to really perceive the contamination that has been placed on the location by the Metropolis of Atlanta in order that if you open up park areas that haven’t been remediated we don’t have residents who’re coming into contact with contaminated soil and contaminated water like they have already got been, truthfully, with Intrenchment Creek.

In order that’s that’s simply the place, you recognize, actually to show what you’re doing, to show that that is due diligence within the eyes of the involved citizen. I’m asking for maps that present what areas did you permit out…?– Change from October 21, 2021 assembly of the Atlanta Public Security Coaching Middle (APSTC) Group Stakeholder Advisory Committee (CSAC)