On Tuesday, May 30th members of the Bay Area Local of Black Rose / Rosa Negra Anarchist Federation participated in a march alongside a larger coalition which sought to name and shame funders of Cop City. The march took place in Oakland, beginning at Oscar Grant Plaza before making its way to the lobby of a building which houses the Bay Area offices of Atlas Consulting Firm and Cushman & Wakefield (a multi-national real estate brokerage), both investors in the development of Cop City.
Cop City, also known as Atlanta Public Safety Training Center, is a public-private project aiming to establish a nearly 400 acre police urban warfare training ground near Georgia’s capitol city. The land on which Cop City is proposed to be built, originally belonging to the Muskogee people, is highly forested and home to a diverse ecosystem. As such, this struggle represents a multi-sectoral fight involving an ecological front, a front of indigenous struggle, a front against the ever expanding US prison system, and a front against urban police militarization.
This struggle has brought together a diverse coalition of groups opposing the project; from clergy and native peoples, to labor unions and school children. Recognizing the growing opposition, the state has continued to dramatically escalate its strategy of repression. This has included wanton arrests and charges of ‘domestic terrorism’ against protesters, all the way up to outright state sanctioned murder. On the morning of this writing, the Georgia Bureau of Investigation (GBI) raided the home of Atlanta Solidarity Fund organizers (a community bail fund) arresting them on charges of racketeering.
The Bay Local and the Federation to which we belong, believe that Cop City can be stopped, but that doing so will require looking to successes in past campaigns. Namely, we believe that, though not a perfect analogue, lessons from the winning fight against Urban Shield here in Alameda County can serve to shed light on how the movement against Cop City might produce a similar outcome. For more on this, see our statement below, written and distributed at the May 30 action.
Grow Our Power – Compost Cop City
Black Rose – Bay Area Local Statement for May 30 Action
The movement to stop Cop City is at a crossroads. For two years following the 2020 George Floyd uprising, environmental and racial justice activists, clergy, college students, and community residents have successfully mobilized public protests, treesits, music festivals, and other direct action to prevent construction of the dystopian police urban warfare training facility in Atlanta, Georgia. However, city and state officials appear poised to break ground this summer following severe state repression in recent months, including murdering forest defender Manuel “Tortuguita” Páez Terán and charging dozens more with domestic terrorism after violently dispersing blockades and protest encampments.
Other movements that beat back urban militarism offer lessons for how to grow our power–and win. From 2007 to 2019, the Alameda County Sheriff’s Office used city and federal funds to host an international weapons expo and war games training called Urban Shield. Amidst the first wave of Black Lives Matter protests in 2013, a grassroots coalition of labor unions, faith-based groups, and anti-war and racial justice organizations began pressuring the Oakland city and Alameda county governments to stop hosting the convention. After a sustained campaign, supervisors voted in 2019 against continuing Urban Shield in Alameda County—a massive victory for those opposing police violence and militarization.
How can we sprout the kind of movement that ended Urban Shield to send Cop City into the compost bin of history?
- Establish a local Weelaunee Defense Solidarity Committee: The anti-Urban Shield campaign’s strength came from formal, long-term, cross-movement coalitions that strategically planned, took action, and assessed results together. Different levels of involvement allowed some organizations to help coordinate the campaign while drawing on wider networks to support it.
- Identify and pressure local targets: Movement activists have assembled lists of multinational investors, consultants, insurers, and other partners behind Cop City. Visit stopreevesyoung.com and stopcopcitysolidarity.org to find more near us we can impact until they end their support.
- Strategically leverage diverse tactics: Our movements’ toolkits hold lots of options to expand and intensify action over time. Alongside directly disrupting construction with blockades and other means, we can creatively apply financial, political, and social pressure that sanctions Cop City partners and strengthens our resolve. Lobbying labor and tenant unions, churches, schools, and other sympathetic organizations to publish statements of solidarity and condemnations of Cop City affiliates; phone zapping, postering, and picketing the project’s partners; and raising donations to support the accused forest defenders’ legal defense are some of the many tools at our disposal.
By building upon each other’s contributions to the struggle for a Cop City-free Weelaunee Forest, we can collectively grow our power towards a cop-free world.
For more, see our Federation wide statement on Cop City: Stop Cop City – In Solidarity and Mourning. You can follow the Bay Area Local of Black Rose Rosa Negra on Twitter (@bayareabrrn) or, if you live in the region, join our Telegram channel (t.me/bayreabrrn).