It was late summer 2017 at the Overtyme Bar and Grill, a hotspot off a busy highway in Macon, Georgia, and Kumho Tire plant worker Mario Smith had important questions for local United Steelworkers (USW) president Alex Perkins: he wanted to know how he could bring a union to the one-year-old factory. Now six years later—after two elections, many National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) cases, a virulent union-busting campaign, and the triumphant solidarity of the factory workers—that union has gained its first-ever collective bargaining agreement with Kumho Tire management, the first tire workers to unionize in the United States in 40 years.
The Vote to Stop Cop City Coalition in Atlanta submitted more than 116,000 signatures on Monday to put a referendum about the embattled police training complex on the ballot for local voters, but city officials quickly refused to validate the signatures and move the petition along due to an ongoing legal fight over the signature-gathering process. Stop Cop City activists accused Atlanta officials of once again subverting democracy after moving forward with the construction of the 85-acre, $90 million police training complex, despite months of fierce protest and loud community opposition to a facility that activists say would further militarize Atlanta cops.
Georgia’s RICO (Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations) law, modeled on the federal statute designed to attack mob bosses, has been in the news a lot, ever since Fulton County, Georgia, District Attorney Fani Willis used Georgia’s law to charge former President Donald Trump and his associates with attempting to overturn the results of the 2020 election. And with the news has come the inevitable hand-wringing about whether the RICO charges against Trump were a good idea. CNN (8/26/23) published an op-ed questioning whether the indictments were too broad, saying, “Casting a wide net can also raise serious First Amendment issues.”
For the past two years, calls to “stop Cop City” and “defend the Atlanta forest” have shaken the political and corporate establishment of Georgia’s state capital. Although Atlanta City Council has approved a lease and funding for a massive Public Safety Training Center in the city’s Weelaunee Forest, the sustained, popular #StopCopCity movement has effectively halted its construction. In response, local and state government have used a variety of tactics to move things forward — including police raids (which led to the killing of protester Manuel “Tortuguita” Terán), domestic terrorism charges against activists and a highly-controversial “signature verification process” that could undermine a proposed referendum.
Thursday morning a group of Cop City activists invoked a “people’s stop work order” and chained themselves to equipment at the construction site for the proposed Atlanta Safety Public Training Center, more commonly known as Cop City. “This is a war happening against protesters,” Ayeola Omolara Kaplan, one of the five activists arrested, said via written statement. “If we don’t stand up for our right to protest now, standing up in the future will be vain. Cop City is in the process of being built, and this can only continue if we allow it.” Kaplan, a self-described Atlanta based revolutionary artist, was joined by Jeff Jones...
Last weekend, hundreds of people detained at the Stewart Detention Center announced plans for a hunger strike in response to inedible food and inhumane conditions inside the notorious Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) facility in rural southwest Georgia. Though detainees have continued to eat while they negotiate with the facility’s staff, as many as 800 people are set to refuse food starting this week if their demands are not met. On the morning of Saturday, Aug. 26, roughly 300 people held inside the Stewart Detention Center were brought out of their holding cells for their morning meal.
The National Lawyers Guild condemns in the strongest terms the state of Georgia’s indictments, announced today, Tuesday, September 5, against 61 people targeted for allegedly being part of the movement to #StopCopCity. These indictments, filed by Georgia Attorney General Chris Carr, aim to quell the growing, massive public movement to bring an end to the construction of a military police training facility in the Atlanta Forest, and to use RICO, domestic terrorism and money laundering charges to portray a popular movement as an unlawful conspiracy. “The National Lawyers Guild strongly condemns the state of Georgia’s organized effort to silence, criminalize, and punish movements for justice,” says NLG President Suzanne Adely.
In recent weeks, New Yorkers have been perplexed by Atlanta Police Department (APD) hiring advertisements plastered throughout the MTA announcing recruiting events in New York City. On Saturday afternoon, one of those events took place at the New York Hilton Midtown. A group of around 100 protestors chanting “From ATL to NYC, stop Cop City!” gathered on the sidewalk outside the hotel in opposition to the interstate recruitment. The demonstration drew a wide variety of participants.
Atlanta, Georgia - On Monday, the Stop Cop City Coalition announced it had collected 104,000 signatures on a referendum petition that would allow Atlanta voters to decide whether to overturn the 2021 lease of 381 acres of city-owned land in the South River Forest to the Atlanta Police Foundation for the construction of the Atlanta Public Safety Training Center, but it will not turn in those signatures yet, citing an argument by the city that will increase the minimum number of signatures required for the petition to be successful and concerns that city officials plan to use what the coalition says is a voter suppression technique when validating petition signatures.
Savannah, Ga. — Two Genesee & Wyoming short lines in Georgia today asked the Federal Railroad Administration to allow them to conduct a pilot program that would test Parallel Systems’ zero-emission autonomous container cars. The 211-mile Georgia Central Railway and 233-mile Heart of Georgia Railroad would like to test the battery-electric cars – which can run alone or coupled together as an autonomous train – on portions of their lines beginning next year. “GC and HOG believe the development and anticipated adoption of this technology has the potential to capture new container business moving to and from the Port of Savannah, as well as reinvigorate traffic on rural rail lines and revive inland ports in Georgia – all while removing trucks from the region’s roads and reducing carbon emissions,” G&W said.
Opponents of Atlanta’s planned public safety training center scored another victory today when a federal judge denied the city of Atlanta’s appeal to try to halt the “Stop Cop City” referendum petition drive. The ruling comes as organizers with the Vote to Stop Cop City coalition say they have collected nearly 80,000 signatures, more than the 70,000 goal announced at the start of the campaign in June. U.S. District Court Judge Mark H. Cohen denied the city’s appeal of his ruling last month to allow those living outside the city to collect signatures as part of the referendum petition campaign. His ruling on the preliminary injunction also extended the amount of time to collect signatures.
Atlanta, Georgia - Tenants and housing activists packed the Neighborhood Church in East Atlanta July 8 for a People’s Town Hall to launch a statewide effort to overturn a Georgia law that forbids any rent control measures from being enacted in any jurisdiction. People traveled from around the state, coming from small towns and large cities like Valdosta near the Florida border, Columbus and Albany. Atlanta and its suburbs were well represented. Many of the featured speakers were Black women who have borne the brunt of rundown housing, where they are charged exorbitant rents and utility costs and are constantly threatened with eviction.
Fort Benning, the infamous Georgia U.S. military base, is once again in the news, changing its name to Fort Moore, thereby ditching its Confederate name. Yet none of the media covering the rebranding – not The New York Times, the Associated Press, CNN, ABC, CBS News, USA Today nor The Hill – mentioned the most controversial aspect of the institution. Across Latin America, the very name of Fort Benning is enough to strike terror into the hearts of millions, bringing back visions of massacres and genocides. This is because the fort is home to the School of the Americas (now known as Western Hemisphere Institute for Security Cooperation or WHINSEC), a shadowy academy where around 84,000 Latin American soldiers and police officers have been taught on the U.S. dime on how to kill, torture and how to stamp out political activists.
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.