cop city

The arrest of protestors, the destruction of the environment and the killing and brutalizing of activists. All of this and much more have ensued at the hands of Atlanta’s police force this year. These horrific actions have come in reaction to recent protests surrounding the construction of a new police training facility, and the crackdown that followed only further proves the protestors’ concerns.

In recent years, the City of Atlanta approved a new law enforcement facility that is slated to be built on an 85-acre forested site. Yes, 85 acres.

This massive area, which has been given the title of “Cop City” by protestors, will be the site for shooting ranges, areas to test tear gas and explosives and a large mock city that will be used to simulate urban warfare. All at the whopping cost of $90 million.

Organized protests have been popping up recently along with several concerts in the forest to show support and solidarity with the protestors in order to “Stop Cop City,” as their slogan goes. The construction of the police site, however, is hardly the only controversy sadly.

In January of this year, police shot and killed an activist named Manuel Terán during a raid of a forest encampment. Even more recently, an independent autopsy showed that the environmental activist was shot and killed while they were sitting cross-legged with their hands raised in the air. These horrifying details conflict with the police narrative that has been pushed to justify the killing.

This, however, is not out of the norm. Police across the country are famous for lying about events like this. It has been increasingly hard to go even a month without police departments killing or beating up people, lying about it and then getting more money.

Among the hundreds of people attending protests and concerts in the forest, some were involved in the burning of construction equipment to delay the site being worked on. In reaction to this, 42 people who were in the forest were arrested and charged with domestic terrorism. And no, that is not a typo.

Most of the evidence to link these 42 people to the burnings is incredibly weak with most being arrested because they had mud on their shoes. Even if they did do it, charging them with domestic terrorism is such a huge government overreach and an absurdly obvious one at that. Eli Bennett, an attorney familiar with the arrest warrants, called Georgia’s domestic terrorism statute “laughably unconstitutional.”

On another note, I have been hearing and seeing several conservatives over the past year complaining about how “the left is defunding the police”, and to that, I say, “I wish.” The new “Cop City” is just another example of how this is not only not true, but the exact opposite has happened in recent years.

President Biden has actually worked to increase police budgets nationwide last year. Also, the United States spends more on policing than almost every other country spends on their militaries, such as India and Russia. The numbers are startling and depressing, so all of those on the right who have whined about the defunding of police leading to a supposed recent increase in crime is living in a fantasy world.

The new construction of this “Cop City” will do untold damage to the communities in Atlanta by creating an even deadlier militant police force. However, even if the site does not get made and the protests are successful, police departments across the country have already been militarized beyond belief by both Democrat and Republican politicians. Even Spokane has massive armored vehicles that are each worth hundreds of thousands of dollars.

Police should create safer communities, but throughout their history, they have been the judge, jury and executioner. This must not be allowed to continue.

Anthony Maucione is a staff writer.