In a dramatic escalation of the war on non-violent environmental defenders and racial justice advocates, the GBI, in coordination with DeKalb County Police, Atlanta Police, and the FBI, launched an attack on tree sitters in the Atlanta Forest. Several protestors were attacked with chemical weapons, i.e. tear gas and pepper balls. Several were arrested and charged with draconian “domestic terrorism” charges which reflects the new mandate of the Biden administration and the right-wing governor of Georgia, Brian Kemp, who recently stole another election from Stacey Abrams using voter suppression. This is not a surprising turn of events as the FBI, GBI, and local metro Atlanta police departments have been consistently waging attacks for several months to no avail on this non-violent movement to stop Cop City and save sacred ground as this area was the previous home of the Muscogee Tribe, a site of a plantation and later a prison farm. In October, Brian Kemp’s administration used a key phrase which eluded to this recent attack that these “Stop Cop City” activists were domestic terrorists. However, since Kemp and the Republicans were facing a close election race in 2022, they did not want any negative publicity to impede their efforts to win and thus waited to bring down the heavy headed tactics on these protestors now. This is an effort by state and federal officials to terrorize protestors and any would-be supporters of the movement to stop the building a militarized training facility that will terrorize local, poor Black residents and be used as training grounds to continue to terrorize Black communities and any form of social dissent.
What is Cop City?
Cop City is an initiative by the city of Atlanta to build a militarized fortress in one of the last remaining vast greenspaces in Atlanta, which is vitally important in the midst of catastrophic climate change. The facility will have helicopter pads, spaces for militarized drills, firing ranges, and a mock city designed to train for urban warfare tactics. The facility is being built by the Atlanta Police Foundation which is largely sponsored by big corporations. The city of Atlanta has agreed to give this monstrosity of a gift to the police on the backs of the George Floyd rebellions and riots in Atlanta. The city of Atlanta will spend nearly $90 million dollars to build this unnecessary facility even though the land is in Dekalb County and thus the local residents had no say whatsoever in the matter. Furthermore, nearly 70 percent of residents opposed this facility when it come up for debate in the city council. However, Atlanta has pushed through with its plan to build this facility anyways and has continued to use terroristic and deceptive tactics to push this widely unpopular plan on through. Protestors on the street of Atlanta have been arbitrarily arrested and attacked for exercising their right to protest this facility. Environmental rules have been ignored as the proposed site is currently an Atlanta police shooting range and a former prison farm and is likely contaminated with toxic pollutants and heavy metals which will flow into the local community’s already severely polluted water supply. Critics of the official advisory board have been fired for raising concerns about the implementation of the Cop City plan and for maintaining that local and federal rules governing the development of such land be followed. Since the site used to be a plantation and former brutal prison farm where slavery like convict leasing was employed, there are likely unmarked graves or burial sites which would further restrict development in that area. Georgia and Atlanta’s officials have ignored all of this and thus the heavy-hand tactics of criminalizing and terrorizing protestors are a reflection of its unpopularity, the undemocratic nature of the development, and criminality in its ruthless quest to develop this future terrorist training facility aka police training grounds.
The History of Terrorism in the Atlanta Forest
Terrorism has been the biggest propaganda and fear-mongering term used by the ruling class since 9/11. Often the term is used the masters of terrorism and those who have been implementing it for the past 600 years in North America. What does terrorism mean? As defined in the Encyclopedia Brittanica, 1998 edition, ”terrorism” is the calculated use of violence to create a general climate of fear in a population and thereby to bring about a particular political objective. The first inhabitants of the Atlanta Forest were the Muscogee Tribe. This tribe lived there for thousands of years and considered the forest to be sacred land and the beauty of the surroundings attests to its sacredness. This tribe was the victim of terrorism in the form of white settler colonialism and US govt genocidal wars on the Indigenous which forcibly removed them from those lands.
The land was later converted into a slave plantation where enslaved Africans were subjected to the terrorism, rape, and brutality of chattel slavery. When those Africans were worked to death or arbitrarily killed for being rebellious, their bodies were dumped near their plantation. After the Civil War, the site was home to a brutal, slavery like convict leasing plantation where mostly Black prisoners were worked to death, savagely beaten and terrorized, and then bodies disposed like a piece of meat. That convict leasing site later became the Atlanta Prison Farm where mostly Blacks were incarcerated for the crime of being Black and poor. Numerous prisoners were again subject to slave like conditions and worked to death and had their bodies discarded in the area. Thus, this proposed site has been the site of genocidal, domestic terrorism to advance the slave economies of incarceration, convict leasing, and chattel slavery and white settler colonialism. Furthermore, given that the police only exist to maintain white supremacy, Indigenous genocide, and class inequality, and protect rich white men’s property and employ violence intentionally and indiscriminately i.e. gassing of non-violent protestors, bombing entire city blocks to achieve these political ends (the definition of terrorism), the legacy of domestic terrorism will continue.
The Biggest Terrorists in the Room: APD, GBI, FBI
The FBI was been actively involved in the attack on the non-violent movement to stop Cop city and their history of terrorism is widely acknowledged by the FBI themselves specifically in their acknowledgment of the illegal Cointelpro campaign where thousands of left-wing activists were murdered, framed, incarcerated, and spied on. This terrorist campaign resulted in the countless death of Black activists like Malcom X, Martin Luther King, and Fred Hampton Jr and the continued incarceration of numerous Black Panthers aka political prisoners. The Biden administration in 2021 announced that in the wake of the January 6th attacks, which was led by right wing white supremacists and fascists with the tacit support of the national security state and the federal government, that there would be waged on “domestic terrorism”. This alarmed many journalists and activists as the history of the federal government and the FBI shows that the domestic terrorism label has always been used to against Black freedom fighters, environmentalists, animal rights advocates, left-wing activists, and socialists and never against the right-wing, white supremacists who routinely bomb churches and abortion clinics, destroy the US Capitol, and attack drag shows. A released memo showed that the government considered environmentalists, anarchists, black identity extremists, and feminists to be “domestic terrorists” and as equally dangerous as genocidal Klansman and Neo Nazis and violent anti-choice fanatics. Thus, the new attack on the Atlanta Forest defenders shows that plan is being into action in Atlanta.
The GBI has a long history of terrorism too. The agency was created to enforce segregation and white supremacy during the official Jim apartheid in Georgia and was an active Ku Klan Klan brigade. One of the first leaders of the GBI was a Klansman by the name of Sam Roper who recruited Klansman into the agency. The agency was also actively involved in one of the biggest white terrorist events in United States history, the Moores Ford lynching, which is still unsolved to this day due to GBI coverup and involvement. The Moore’s Ford lynching was a mass lynching of four Black people that occurred in 1946 by a mob of Klansman. This campaign was a state-sanctioned affair and coincided with then open white supremacist Eugene Talmedge gubernatorial campaign who later became governor. Talmedge openly worked with the Klan to terrorize the entire Black community who were fighting against Jim Crow apartheid by challenging racist voter suppression. On the heels of this campaign and open season Klan terror, four Black people were brutally murdered with the support of GBI officials who brought some of the weapons across state lines to the murderers and then actively covered up their involvement and the crime. Eugene Talmadge was actually the one who appointed GBI director and Klansman Sam Roper to this position within the agency.
The GBI was later involved in the coverup of the Atlanta Child Murders which was the biggest domestic terrorist in US history and committed by the Klan. Since Georgia officials did not want a race riot or Black uprising, they pinned the crime on Wayne Williams, when their own informants documented the Klan conspiracy to kill Black children to “start a race war” and “oppose school busing”.
The Atlanta Police ever since its founding was also a Klan outfit where Black people were not allowed to be officers until the 1940s. Up until the 1960s, those few token Black officers that were hired were then not allowed to arrest white people. The Klan continued to maintain its hold on Atlanta policing all the way up until now as the FBI has documented that white supremacists and right-wing extremists are heavily integrated into US police departments. Hence why the APD also covered up the Klan systematic murdering of Black children during the massacre known as the Atlanta Child Murders. An APD informant informed the agency of the Klan’s plans well in advance and the police allowed the bloodbath and terror campaign to continue and then participated in the framing of Wayne Williams in cahoots with the FBI and GBI. The APD is now an engine of gentrification, mass incarceration, criminalizing of the homeless, lyncher of Black people, and the maintainer of income inequality which Atlanta is the national leader of.
In closing, this terrorizing tactic by the GBI, FBI, and APD is a campaign to crush any form of dissent to a very unpopular plan to destroy a native forest in the face of ecological disaster. This shows that the elites are desperate to push their undemocratic and unpopular plan to develop “Cop City” to officially boost police morale, not fight crime. Given the ecological and societal collapse projected by the Pentagon to happen soon, it also shows the elites wish to maintain power in the midst of that collapse through using terroristic military tactics in their desperate attempt to maintain power. Hence why they want to build a military base to train local and national police how to terrorize racial justice advocates, environmentalists, socialists, anarchists, and any dissenters to their rule and unjust systems they defend i.e. capitalism which will increasingly be challenged in the near future. It also why propaganda terms like “domestic terrorism” are being used to demonize non-violent tree sitters and a whole movement committed towards freedom, Black liberation, and a healthy and stable planet. Don’t be fooled by this. Please support the campaign to stop Cop City and free the protestors who have been unjustly criminalized by the state.
Jeffrey St. Clair, CounterPunch on Twitter: “Predictably, Biden’s anti-domestic “terrorism” initiative lumps Antifa, environmentalists and animal rights groups in with the neo-Nazis…. https://t.co/qZsYxj7QVn” / Twitter