Officials promoting the Atlanta Public Safety Training Center, i.e. Cop City, have violated protesters’ free speech rights from the start. They continue to demonize those brave enough to speak against the facility: environmentalists, Native Americans, Black community organizers, and anti-police violence advocates.
Recently, Georgia’s Attorney General indicted 61 activists with broad racketeering charges under the state’s RICO Act, thus treating them as an organized criminal movement. The suit equates reimbursement for yard signs with money laundering and the refusal to vacate a treehouse with terrorism. The case is shoddy, but if successful, it lays the groundwork for criminalizing future dissenters.
Revealing their fear of the public will, authorities have used every opportunity to mire a referendum that would allow Atlanta voters to weigh in on the training facility. Cop City Vote coalition turned in boxes of petitions which sat uncounted at City Hall for three months pending a lawsuit. Outrageously, the city also posted online unredacted identifying information of the petitioners. Then in December, the mayor’s deputy chief of staff orchestrated the measure’s dismissal in a closed-door session of the City Council.
All protest is threatened by attacks on the democratic rights of Cop City opponents. Those who value free speech need to show unwavering solidarity with these activists. To help, go to stopcopcitysolidarity.org.