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Atlanta Closes Parkland Used By Protesters Against 'Cop City'

Children and parents from Atlanta private schools showed up at City Hall during a school day to urge city council members not to go ahead with “Cop City,” a $90 million police and fire department training base planned in a forest that has become a center of controversy. On Monday college students at Emory University, Georgia Tech and other Atlanta schools protested the gigantic project, holding up signs, handing out leaflets and giving speeches. They tried to camp overnight at Emory, but were forced off by Atlanta police early Tuesday morning, the Guardian reports. While the protests against Cop City go on, the project is making headway and a key stretch of public land nearby is no longer accessible to people seeking to defend the forest. For the first time in nearly two years of opposition to Cop City, the public park part of South River Forest has been shut down, allegedly for the public’s safety. Opponents say the move is another example of the heavy-handed crackdown by law enforcement and local officials, who have sought to portray the protesters as “domestic terrorists” and have used a variety of methods to disrupt opposition groups.

The park’s secondary-growth forest is where police shot and killed activist Manuel Paez Terán, or Tortuguita, on Jan. 18, catapulting the fight over Cop City into global headlines. It is also where dozens of people were arrested last monh during a music festival and charged with domestic terrorism and where almost all the movement’s “tree sitters” have camped. Called “Intrenchment Creek Park” – or “Weelaunee People’s Park” by protesters – the part of the forest now closed has been the physical and spiritual center of the movement to “Stop Cop City”. “Forest defenders” have camped there and dozens of public events around the issue have happened there, including Jewish and Muscogee (Creek) ceremonies, herbal workshops, school events, food distribution to area residents and five “weeks of action”. Forty acres of the park have also been under threat from a developer’s plans since before the Cop City project became public in 2021. These plans have been stalled by a local environmental group’s lawsuit. In response to the park’s closing, groups interested in defending the forest are showing up elsewhere around the city – as evidenced by the visits to city hall and this week’s plans by Emory and other Atlanta-area college students.


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