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‘Stop Cop City’ Week Of Action Day 5

Cadence Bank Loan Protest and ‘March For The Forest’.

Atlanta and DeKalb County, GA — The ‘Stop Cop City’ movement’s sixth week of action continued on Wednesday, with two events striking a more tense tone than the relatively calmer days earlier in the week.

At around 10:30 a.m., a few dozen protesters held an unannounced noise demonstration outside Cadence Bank, which is providing the Atlanta Police Foundation with a construction loan for building ‘Cop City.’ They reportedly chanted at the bank for about 20 minutes, with some bacon apparently being tossed toward the mass of police guarding the bank, before leaving.

As dispersing protesters walked away on downtown sidewalks, Atlanta Police reportedly detained at least two people, with cell phone video showing one protester being wrestled to the ground by several officers as others ask why they were being arrested.

The arrested protester has been charged with felony obstruction and simple assault of a police officer, according to the Atlanta Community Press Collective, although it’s unclear from available footage what caused officers to interact with the person in the first place.

Community organizer and abolitionist reverend Matthew Johnson was among those handled roughly by APD officers who charged at the dispersing crowd. Photos posted to social media indicate that officers tore a large hole in Johnson’s shirt.

March for the forest

Later that afternoon, a scheduled ‘March For the Forest’ began gathering in Gresham Park at around 6 p.m. At 7:15, a crowd of between 150-200 people marched south along the bike path toward Intrenchment Creek Park and the area where the Atlanta Police Foundation has been razing approximately 85 acres of the Weelaunee Forest as they develop the proposed ‘Cop City’ site.

It was initially unclear if protesters would confront police to access the forest or the construction site itself — meanwhile, reports emerged that a large group of police with riot shields had assembled at the entrance to Intrenchment Creek Park. The crowd of protesters marched a mile in the direction of Intrenchment Creek and ‘Cop City’ construction before pausing to hear speeches.

Belkis Terán, mother of ‘Stop Cop City’ organizer Manuel ‘Tortuguita’ Terán, who was killed by Georgia State Patrol in Intrenchment Creek Park in January, addressed the crowd and encouraged them to boycott companies that support the Atlanta Police Foundation, such as Home Depot, Coca-Cola and AT&T.

An anonymous masked forest defender then addressed the crowd to explain why the march had decided to stop and turn around. They explained that in their view, police were treating ‘Stop Cop City’ protesters as “insurgent” combatants not entitled to conventional democratic rights, which meant the movement had to be careful to “proceed rationally” and not impulsively throw itself into a losing battle in the face of escalating repression. They stressed that, “I believe we can win this movement,” and encouraged forest defenders to be “creative” and commit themselves to actions where they felt they could successfully “go all the way” as opposed to pursuing media-spectacle martyrdom.

The march then headed back to Gresham Park where participants socialized for some time before dispersing, with a sound cart providing music to the crowd.

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