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Atlanta Police Ramp Up Surveillance Of Cop City Opponents

Atlanta police have been carrying out around-the-clock surveillance in several neighborhoods for months, on people and houses linked to opposition against the police training center colloquially known as “Cop City”. The surveillance in Georgia has included following people in cars, blasting sirens outside bedroom windows and shining headlights into houses at night. While no arrests have been made, residents said they’re at a loss as to what legal protections of privacy and freedom from harassment are available to them, the Guardian reports. The ongoing actions started soon after an 8 February pre-dawn, Swat-style raid on three Atlanta houses in which Atlanta police and agents from the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives sought evidence relating to arson of construction and police equipment. Police have since established themselves in four neighborhoods, centering on about 12 houses – including those that were previously raided – with marked and unmarked cars parking near them, driving slowly by and leaving when approached by residents.

Social movement historian Dan Berger said this low-tech type of surveillance and related behavior – blasting sirens and flashing lights, following people – has precedence dating at least to the civil rights era. He called the actions “naked intimidation with plausible deniability attached to it”. Berger added that “[a] common strategy of police work is, when a movement reaches a point of threat, the powers that be begin actively trying to scare them out of existence – showing them they know where they live, who they hang out with”. The Cop City training center is being built on a 171-acre footprint in a forest south-east of Atlanta. Opposition has come from a wide range of local and national supporters and is centered on concerns such as unchecked police militarization and clearing forests in an era of climate crisis. Atlanta police say the center is needed for “world-class” training. One resident of a Lakewood neighborhood house raided on 8 February described being in a car with another person several days afterward. Different vehicles followed them for four and a half hours, as they drove out of city limits and into Gwinnett county suburbs. When they stopped in a drive-through, a Gwinnett police officer pulled them over and gave them a ticket for having the car’s license plate in the back window, and not on the bumper.


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