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Forest defenders face domestic terrorism charges as opposition grows at ATL's "Cop City"


The Weelaunee Forest is being developed into a massive police training facility, Cop City, and prosecutors in Atlanta have charged 23 forest activists with "domestic terrorism" after their arrests earlier this month at a festival near CopCity.


On Mar. 8, police clashed with protesters more than two months after Atlanta police fatally shot 26-year-old environmental activist Manuel "Tortuguita" Terán.


"What we had over the weekend was a festival in Weelaunee Park with hundreds of people gathered to denounce Cop City, to celebrate the Weelaunee Forest. There was a breakaway action in which there was civil disobedience, and there was an attempt to disable property", said Kamau Franklin, founder of the organization Community Movement Builders.


"The police overreacted, came in, chased people down. They then decided to go a mile away and invade the music festival. They broke up the entire festival. They threatened people’s lives. They threw people to the ground. They arrested people randomly and indiscriminately."


There were a total of 23 cases of domestic terrorism filed and a total of 35 arrests at that rally and demonstration.


One forest defender, whose identity was kept anonymous, recalled what took place when police began harassing the protesters.


"It felt like a punishment for standing up, for exerting our First Amendment rights, for showing a united front to the power structure of the city. And it felt really scary. Like, it’s possible that we’re watching the future of protest for all of our future, protests against police brutality, protests against climate change. We’re seeing it crushed right here in front of our eyes."


What is taking place at Cop City, a paramilitary complex designed to empower police to terrorize Atlanta, is state-sanctioned violence committed by Atlanta police against the forest defenders.

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