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DSA Condemns Repression of Stop Cop City Movement

The Democratic Socialists of America condemns the repressive RICO indictments against activists fighting to Stop Cop City. On September 5th, in the latest escalation of lawfare against protestors, Georgia Attorney General Chris Carr named 61 people in a RICO indictment under a state statute designed to prosecute organized crime. This is blatant political repression: the people targeted by this indictment are organizers and activists protesting the construction of a $90 million police training facility in Atlanta. 

For two years, a broad movement of working people and community organizations in Atlanta has opposed the construction of Cop City and sought to stop the destruction of public forest land. This training facility explicitly creates a manufactured city for police to practice more effective repression tactics against protests in the wake of the 2020 uprisings following the police murder of George Floyd. If built, Cop City would enable police forces in and beyond Atlanta to enhance their ability to violently suppress protest, in particular protests against racist police violence. The destruction of the forest would also be an environmental disaster for the people of Atlanta in a period of escalating climate crisis.

In order to suppress opposition and push through construction of this facility, the state of Georgia and the city of Atlanta have resorted to increasingly authoritarian and violent forms of repression. In January, Georgia state troopers murdered Tortuguita, a forest defender organizing against Cop City. In May, police arrested organizers of the Atlanta Solidarity Fund, which has provided funds for bail and legal defense to arrested protestors. This week’s RICO indictment is the most severe, punitive, and overtly politically motivated escalation of legal repression to date. In the indictment, prosecutors claim the evidence of a “racketeering” conspiracy includes organizers posting on social media about peaceful protests, activists distributing flyers identifying a police officer as a murderer, and even one protestor simply signing his name as “ACAB” on a document. Georgia prosecutors claim that the expression of left-wing views is itself an overt act in furtherance of a criminal conspiracy to oppose their right-wing political agenda. The indictment identifies the beginning of the “criminal conspiracy” as May 25, 2020—the day of George Floyd’s murder—making clear that the purpose of the indictment is to criminalize an entire movement and the community organizing that has made it possible. We won’t let that happen. 

Since launching the Vote to Stop Cop City referendum campaign in June, opponents of the facility have successfully collected over 100,000 signatures from local residents who want a public vote on canceling the project. Democratic Mayor Andre Dickens has responded by suing to throw out thousands of signatures using the same “signature match” voter suppression tactics promoted by Republican Governor Brian Kemp. In Georgia, white supremacist Republicans and neoliberal corporate Democrats are collaborating to criminalize protest, demolish public forests, and deny the people of Atlanta their democratic rights to a citizen-initiated referendum. DSA maintains our support for the referendum campaign and calls on the City of Atlanta to allow a democratic referendum on Cop City.

This is a fight that affects all of us who are struggling for a better world, and we reaffirm our support for the people in Atlanta who are fighting against the construction of this disaster in their city. As socialists committed to environmental justice and the abolition of the carceral state, we ask our comrades and the community to donate to the Atlanta Solidarity Fund to support the legal defense of protestors arrested in Atlanta. You can follow and find more ways to support the referendum campaign at copcityvote.com and @CopCityVote. Finally, you can help call voters to sign the petition at Atlanta DSA’s upcoming phone banks on September 13th and 20th