Thursday, September 7, 2023

Cop City Protesters Arrested After Chaining Themselves to Construction Equipment

"This movement cannot be won with a ballot alone; we must organize together for mass direct actions if we want to have a chance at protecting our community and saving our planet," said one of those arrested.

Five "Stop Cop City" demonstrators, including faith leaders, were arrested Thursday morning after chaining themselves to construction equipment at Atlanta's proposed Public Safety Training Center just outside of city limits in DeKalb County, Georgia.

The arrestees are Rev. Jeff Jones, a Unitarian Universalist volunteer community minister; Rev. David Dunn, a Unitarian Universalist minister; Ayeola Omolara Kaplan, an Atlanta-based revolutionary artist; Atlanta resident Lalita Martin; and Georgia resident Timothy Sullivan, according to the Atlanta Community Press Collective.

The Atlanta Police Department (APD) said in a statement that "those five people have been taken into custody and we are working with the Georgia Bureau of Investigation regarding charges on these individuals. Around this same time, approximately 25 people gathered outside the site to protest."

Protesters were arrested in Georgia on September 7, 2023. (Photo: Atlanta Police Department)

The Atlanta Journal-Constitutionreported that protesters outside the construction site of the contested 85-acre facility chanted "Cop City will never be built."

Photos shared on social media showed demonstrators carrying signs that said "#StopCopCity," "No Cop City on Stolen Land," and "The People's Injunction: Stop Work Order."

A notice protesters posted on metal fencing said that the people were shutting down the project for violations including "destruction of a forest, destruction of the public trust, polluting Intrenchment Creek, violating the will of the community, undermining the democratic process."

"We have tried to get justice in the courts, we have tried to get justice using our politicians, and unfortunately, they have betrayed and failed us," said Mary Hooks of the Movement for Black Lives, according to the AJC. "So when our government systems fail, that is when the people must stand up and take action."

"Anytime somebody puts their bodies on the line for the cause," added Hooks, "it was worth the risk."

The "people's injunction" to halt construction came after Georgia Republican Attorney General Chris Carr announced Tuesday that a grand jury indicted 61 Stop Cop City protesters under the state's Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations (RICO) Act.

Omolara Kaplan, one of the demonstrators arrested Thursday, said in a statement that "there is a war happening against protesters. If we don't stand up for our right to protest now, standing up in the future will be in vain. Cop City is in the process of being built and this can only continue if we allow it."

The protester also highlighted an effort by Cop City opponents to collect signatures for an Atlanta referendum to block the project—and the pushback from political leadership in the city, such as a related verification process that critics have denounced as a form of voter suppression.

"As Atlanta Mayor Andre Dickens fights against our right to stop Cop City via the ballot, we must continue our struggle to stop the project with direct actions like sit-ins, boycotts, and blockades," said Omolara Kaplan. "This movement cannot be won with a ballot alone; we must organize together for mass direct actions if we want to have a chance at protecting our community and saving our planet."

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