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In Fascist Attack on the Stop Cop City Movement, The State Indicts Itself
Georgia lists mutual aid, solidarity, and collectivism in RICO charges against people trying to halt police repression, and shows its own illegitimacy
Before I begin, there are several ways to help and support the movement to Stop Cop City listed at the end of this piece. And here is a roundup of helpful links right off the bat. Please support how you can.
According to the state of Georgia, buying $11.91 worth of glue can land you on a RICO indictment, if the glue is used to protest the police. That’s exactly what it says in yesterday’s indictment against 61 people who have allegedly been protesting Atlanta’s potential Cop City. If you don’t know what Cop City is, it’s a plan to spend at least $90 million and destroy over 300 acres of forest to build a sprawling training center with a mock urban neighborhood to practice police tactics, specifically tactics of repression. Now, sweeping and overreaching charges claim that “militant anarchists” are engaged in a criminal conspiracy to stop this repression training center from being built. But, the indictment proceeds to lay out actions like handing out fliers, giving people food, and even running a bail fund to help arrested protesters as grounds for this case. The social media activity of people involved is referenced, simple acts of free speech are cited, and even ideas like solidarity and mutual aid are discussed as problems which somehow add to the necessity for this indictment.
But the details of these charges aren’t my role, here. All I can hope to do is put this in some context and try to help you continue to resist the voracious encroachment of policing into every area of life as the state seeks to expand its repressive power. Notably, the state of Georgia used the date of George Floyd’s murder on this RICO indictment. We can’t know if this is the start of an attempt to hold people criminally liable under racketeering charges for the mass protests in summer 2020, but the tone set and the implication made clear to all is that the state sees the movement to Stop Cop City as interconnected with the movement for Black lives. And ideologically, there is no doubt that the need to halt the spread of the police state is motivated in large part by the desire to stop cops from killing Black folks and stop killing period. U.S. police killed more people than ever last year and have not changed or reformed since the murder of George Floyd, and the people in Atlanta organizing against Cop City are very much aware of this. Yet instead of acknowledging the simple fact that cops should not kill, and that their power should not be endlessly expanded while they murder without consequence, the state of Georgia is instead choosing to grossly overreach. They’re instead trying to tie the movement to Stop Cop City to George Floyd and say that efforts to limit police violence are criminal rather than justified.
Regardless of whether or not activists and organizers fighting the massive police repression training center were in the streets in 2020, they are informed by the knowledge that sparked the biggest protest movement this country has ever seen: police murder without consequence, and expanding police power, means more violence, more killing, and more repression of movements to improve society. We must be clear that anyone who opposes police murders and the expansion of the police state is fighting on the side of justice. The details listed in the RICO indictment, like small Venmo charges, an individual signing their name as ACAB, and people attending a concert show that the state is very much on the other side, the side of ruthless oppression. But maybe even more clarifying is the broad, sweeping condemnation of basic tenants of human goodness. The state lists, “mutual aid, collectivism, social solidarity” as tenants of anarchism that run rampant in the movement to stop Cop City. The charges condemn, word for word, “the notion of social solidarity,” which, “relies heavily on the idea of human altruism.” In a tale as old as time, the indictment of these activists and organizers, of these people, these residents of Atlanta, is more an indictment of the state than of the movement opposed to the state’s interests. The state is revealing itself to be the real villain.
Of course Georgia police, Atlanta police, and the entire repressive apparatus have already shown themselves to be the enemy of the people. This past January, officers from Georgia state patrol, Dekalb county police, Atlanta police, the Georgia Bureau of Investigation and the FBI all raided the Weelaunee Forest, the urban forest in Atlanta where the plans for Cop City would mean cutting down nearly four hundred acres in building the 85 acre police repression training center. Activists have been camping in the woods, trying to use their bodies to protect the trees and prevent clear-cutting. But on that January day police killed a forest defender who went by Tortuguita. They were 26 years-old, they were beloved by many, and they were shot 57 times. No cop has been brought to justice in this brutal killing.
So despite the indictment from the state, and the rhetoric and charges of terrorism, one side has committed murder. The other has not. One side is also attempting to protect the forest, protect Black folks and working class people in Atlanta, and protect everyone who will be impacted by the expansion of the murderous police state. The other is attempting to ruin the lives of everyone who stands between them and their big budget repression training center where there would very literally be a mock neighborhood for them to practice oppression. Not only that, but one side believes in solidarity, mutual aid, and aiming for altruism. The others views these ideals as grounds for RICO charges.
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Rarely, if ever, has the case for abolition been made so clear. The police kill, the police attack environmental activists, the legal system as a whole seeks fascist repression of all those who stand in the way of its expansion. Standing opposite them are bail funder organizers, college kids, activists, ordinary people saying that a forest should not be cleared for a city to be built so that police may better oppress, may more effectively halt the next uprising that comes when they murder. And that legal system will bend the law, will break the law, will say that handing out fliers is racketeering. It will say that we may not help each other, may not feed each other, may not exercise the most basic democratic rights to defend ourselves from its encroachment on our liberty, on our very lives.
But we can’t be idealistic about this. The state is organized. The state is rigorously and hierarchically organized and it has unlimited funds for cases like this. So we have no choice. We must get organized. What we have is numbers on our side. People trying to stop Cop City got over 100,000 signatures. Now all of those people must remain involved in this fight, and we must recruit more people. Organizers fighting this fascist encroachment against democracy ought to be able mobilize thousands and thousands of people to any given event, and that take organization. That takes all of us.
The state has given the people of Atlanta, and everyone opposed to the eradication of democracy, no choice but to fight tooth and nail. They have gone for the nuclear option, and in doing so have exposed themselves. They have revealed the fascist underbelly they typically try to keep hidden. They have exposed that when people exercise every democratic avenue available, and are on the verge of success, they will resort to anti-democratic tactics to crush dissent. Beyond just this RICO case, the city of Atlanta is challenging the 100,000+ signatures gathered by grassroots organizers and volunteers working their asses off. Mayor Andre Dickens and his team are using the exact same regressive signature checking and discounting strategy he formerly opposed now that he wants to ram Cop City through against popular opinion and against the democratic process.
Between the Mayor, the police, and the state, what choice do we have but to fight. When the government declares itself opposed to the very ideas of solidarity, mutual aid, and care for one another they seek to crush resistance. But instead they spark it. People everywhere are seeing the illegitimate nature of the institutions that kill, repress, and incarcerate anyone struggling for a better world. People everywhere see that institutions opposed to collectively looking out for each other, which seek to ban compassion and care with the threat of violence, have no legitimacy and must be opposed. They cannot be upheld or sustained. In a world where we need each other more than ever we can’t abide a repressive state that would rather police us into an early grave than grant us the resources we need to survive. And although it won’t be easy to overturn the system of capitalism and the violent police state that works to uphold it, we’ve been given no choice.
We will Stop Cop City in Atlanta, and we will stop every attempt to build a Cop City anywhere. Officials in other Georgia counties, Baltimore, Ohio, and elsewhere are currently proposing their own Cop Cities, mimicking what they see in Georgia and attempting to build up their capacity to suppress dissent rather than building up their capacities to help people survive and thrive. We will out organize and out mobilize and out build the oppressive systems and institutions that seek to turn this country and the planet into one large police state. We have to. Be careful, but be determined. And get organized. Solidarity.
Thank you for reading. If my writing helps you please consider becoming a paid subscriber and helping me write more. Thank you - Josh
Here are a few ways to support the movement to Stop Cop City:
For some ways to help from afar click here.
To support the ballot initiative organizing click here.
For the defend the Atlanta forest movement click here.
To support the Atlanta Solidarity Fund, click here.
For the vital work of the Atlanta Community Press Collective, click here.
Lastly, here is the roundup of links from the top of the page once again.
Together, we will win.