We at the Eye on Surveillance Coalition, in solidarity with the American Friends Services Committee and organizers on the ground with the Stop Cop City movement, urgently call for action against the development of the militarized police training facility, "Cop City," in the Weelaunee forest in Atlanta. Funded by $31 million in tax dollars and corporate giants like Home Depot and UPS, this facility is poised to become one of the largest of its kind. Expected to serve as a training center for police departments nationwide, including the New Orleans Police Department, Cop City will become a hub for teaching repressive tactics predominantly used against communities of color.
Cop City stands as a disturbing example of the growing trends in militarized policing, increased surveillance of organizers, and environmental neglect. Law enforcement response to peaceful protestors and organizers supporting the movement have included physical violence, SWAT team raids, arrests and trumped-up charges, all with the goal of intimidating and suppressing the voices of organizers with implications to movements around the country. The murder of Tortuguita by Georgia State Troopers serves as a chilling example of the human cost of law enforcement’s escalating tactics against organizers.
Furthermore, its planned collaborations with countries known for egregious and systematic human rights violations, such as Israel, warrant an unequivocal and resolute rejection. Israeli policing and surveillance tactics, which contribute to the ongoing genocide of Palestinians, also significantly influence the surveillance landscape of New Orleans, perpetuating a cycle of systemic racism and white supremacy within our community. The connections between New Orleans, Cop City, and Israel, seen through police training programs and business exchanges, are indicative of a broader pattern of oppressive tactics deeply rooted in apartheid and settler colonialism. This microcosm reflects a disconcerting increase in the disregard for basic human liberties and environmental health by the government and its corporate partners.
The construction of Cop City also poses a severe environmental threat, a concern that resonates particularly with us as New Orleanians. Its development is projected to destroy a large portion of Atlanta's largest urban forest, negatively impacting the local ecosystem and potentially raising temperatures in nearby majority-Black neighborhoods by as much as 10 degrees. The loss of such crucial urban green spaces reflects a distressing disregard for environmental sustainability, a concern that extends from Atlanta to New Orleans, a city already grappling with the challenges of climate change and natural disasters.
In response, we urge you to join us in demanding that these corporations retract their support from Cop City. Our collective actions can prompt a reconsideration of their involvement in the militarization of police forces, the destruction of critical urban green spaces, and the perpetuation of oppressive policing practices. We encourage you to learn more about Cop City and its corporate backers, and to sign a letter to the CEOs of these corporations, advocating against their support for this project. Together, we can make a difference in protecting our communities, our environment, and our civil liberties.