Atlanta. Georgia. Last week, law enforcement raided a growing protest encampment set up in defense of the Atlanta forest. Both police and Blackhall Studios (behind such high profile movies as Venom and Jumanji), are hoping to bulldoze parts of the Atlanta forest to build a state of the art police training center and expand existing movie production space for Blackhall.
Originally published by Its Going Down.
In response, a broad scale community campaign has been developing, bringing together both abolitionist and ecological forces and utilizing a diverse array of tactics. For a deep-dive from IGD on the project and how locals are building grassroots opposition to it, go here.
In a statement posted to Defend the Atlanta Forest on Twitter:
“For the last six weeks, forest defenders have been holding down an encampment in the Atlanta Forest at Entrenchment Creek, where the future of Atlanta’s climate survival is being threatened for development of Blackhall Studio’s soundstage and the Atlanta Police Foundation’s #CopCity. The forest being defended near the South River is some of the densest, most bio-diverse tree canopy in Atlanta – crucial for mitigating floods and urban heat island effect. The city itself identifies this land as necessary for the future livability of Atlanta.
The South River portion of the Atlanta forest where the camp stood is known as one of the “lungs of Atlanta.” Air quality, flooding, temperatures, habitat, and quality of life all depend on it. Atlanta and DeKalb County politicians may be willing to sell out south Atlanta and the climate in favor of Hollywood profit and a police playground, but many ordinary people have shown we do not accept the destruction of the forest. We want a livable future and we will fight for it.
This encampment was one part of the fight. 100s of people have circulated through this camp, enjoying meals and performances, making art together, and spending time around campfires — building and sharing a life in the woods.
On Friday, the camp was attacked and structures destroyed by DeKalb County PD aided by DeKalb Parks and Recreation and Atlanta PD. Land defenders and Atlanta residents mobilized quickly to recover camp supplies and belongings, and no arrests were made. While it is devastating to see police and county employees destroy something beautiful created in common, the destruction of camp is not yet the destruction of the forest. The fight to defend, protect and grow the Atlanta Forest continues on.”
“Based on county employee statements, we believe the attack on camp was carried out by DeKalb PD at the request of BlackHall, who do not have legal ownership over the park and are blocked from clear-cutting the adjacent land by a lawsuit filed by the SRWA.
This shows what we already know: Police work for capitalism, to protect profit and bottom lines, not for us. It’s no coincidence that the funders of #CopCity are the major corporations and wealthy families of Atlanta, including Blackhall Studios. #CopCity is the capitalists solution to climate change. All over the US, we see wealthy people across the political spectrum, aided by media, justify pouring billions into police to enforce the social order and racial capitalism as the earth melts & a pandemic rages on.
But what Cop City offers us we reject: a “better” police force, more efficient murder and incarceration, a firing range to practice tear gassing us, explosions shaking nearby homes as floodwaters rise, more surveillance and control, the protection of corporate profit over people.
And what Blackhall offers us we refuse: more distraction, bad TV that takes us out of our lives, lets us zone out thru climate apocalypse. Heavy development, much higher rents, more displacement and devastation — empty gray condos where public housing and pine forests once stood.
We may be down one day, but this fight is for life.
Fuck the police! Defend the forest! Free the land!”
Despite the raid, resistance remains ongoing. According to a post from Scenes from the Atlanta Forest, a counter-information site collecting action reports and communiques, banners were hung outside the home of the Chairman of Reeves Young construction company, which according to activists, is contracted to bulldoze part of the Atlanta forest.
From the communique:
“In late December we decided to pay a visit to district one to the home of Dean and Patty Reeves. Dean Reeves is the Chairman of Reeves Young construction company, a company contracted to destroy part of the South Atlanta forest to build Cop City. Their home at 4682 Blackwater Way in Suwanee, GA is part of a purportedly high security gated community but it turns out it’s quite easy to get in with just a little bit of ingenuity
We left them a small message in the trees behind their home to encourage them to do the right thing. We hope this action gives them but a minuscule does of what the creatures in the South Atlanta forest they want to bulldoze might feel: unsafe in the place they call home. Feels bad don’t it…-Received anonymously over Email“