FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Environmental and social justice activists are converging in Atlanta for a week of action to protest the destruction of Welaunee Forest, one of the largest urban forests in the country, to build a facility to train police officers in counterinsurgency operations. Activists are also calling for justice for Tortuguita, a queer Indigenous youth and a beloved member of the community of activists protecting Welaunee Forest, who was assassinated by police in January. Barely a day into the week of action, militarized law enforcement agencies have already violently raided a concert in the forest, threatening musicians and families with children.
As the People vs Fossil Fuels coalition, we stand in solidarity with the Stop Cop City mobilization in Atlanta. We unequivocally oppose proliferation of militarized policing, which threatens Black, Indigenous, and peoples of the Global Majority with even more state violence.
We insist on the right of communities to protect forests, land, and water from pollution and destruction, including through acts of mass civil disobedience, and are appalled that agencies of the State of Georgia carried out what is increasingly looking like a targeted assassination of an activist.
For decades, the U.S. has directly or indirectly supported the murders of environmental defenders across the Global South. Often, these murders have been carried out by agents of U.S.-backed authoritarian governments, in the interest of extractive projects pushed by transnational corporations. The assassination of Tortuguita is a stark reminder of how this kind of violence occurs in the US. as well. We see it in the proliferation of draconian “critical infrastructure” laws to criminalize peaceful protest against polluting infrastructure, and in the state violence against Indigenous water protectors during the struggles against the Dakota Access and Line 3 pipelines. We also see it in the chilling use of “terrorism” charges against Welaunee Forest defenders in Atlanta, for routine acts of nonviolent civil disobedience such as tree-sits.
We condemn the destruction of a forest in the middle of a global climate emergency, and especially, a forest that provides critical cooling and runoff prevention benefits in a low-income, majority Black community, in a region of the country that is already experiencing deadly summer heatwaves and increased rainfall and flood risks.
We demand an independent investigation into Tortuguita’s death. The police must not be allowed to investigate themselves.
We demand that prosecutors drop the preposterous “terrorism” charges against forest defenders, which are clearly intended for one purpose only – to intimidate people and deter them from defending their communities and the Earth.
Finally, we demand that the City of Atlanta reverse course, halt construction, and revoke the permits for Cop City.