On Monday, Sept. 11, organizers and activists opposed to the controversial Atlanta Public Safety Training Facility, will submit more than 110,000 petition signatures to City Hall to force a ballot referendum on the project better known as Vop City. Although only 58,000 signatures or 15 percent of registered voters are required to force a vote, organizers say they are hedging their bets, commenting that they are concerned about efforts to disqualify signatures and halt construction until the issue can be decided at the ballot box.
City of Atlanta voting officials are expected to conduct a line-by-line review, a process voting advocates say is a “widely discredited tool of voter suppression.”
“That the city of Atlanta would use such a subjective and unreliable process is shameful and undermines the integrity of the city’s validation procedure,” more than two dozen voting rights organizations, including Fair Fight, wrote to city officials.
Last week, Georgia Attorney General Chris Carr issued RICO indictments for 61 protestors he referred to as “military anarchists.” By Frida, Sept. 8, all 61 had posted bond and had been released from jail.
In June After a nearly 14½ hour-long session against a backdrop of hundreds of protestors, Atlanta City Council members voted 11 to 4 to fund the highly controversial Cop City in Atlanta.
Opponents of the training facility say they are concerned that the state-of-the-art police training facility will militarize police and result in more police brutality and police slayings of Black and Brown residents.
“We have more than 100,000 signatures. You have more people in the electorate involved in this than voted for the mayor… but the city council doesn’t want to let people decide,” says DaMareo Cooper, co-executive director of the Center for Popular Democracy, a national organization supporting the ‘Stop Cop City’ movement.
Other detractors of the project say the true costs of the training facility will likely double, in terms of construction costs and human tragedy. Hundreds of Atlanta residents gathered at Atlanta City Hall to speak against legislation that would authorize an additional $33.5 million in public funding for proposed Atlanta Police Department training compound which will be built in unincorporated Dekalb County. The project has reportedly exceeded its original budget due to loss of private funders and increased expenses related to the widespread public opposition to the project.
The last mobilization on May 15 broke previous City Council records for the longest in-person public comment at any Atlanta City Council with a 7-hour-long comment session.
The proposed building site is also the site where a young protestor was shot and killed by a Georgia State Trooper. Manuel Esteban Paez Terán, also known as Tortuguita
, was a Venezuelan environmental activist and eco-anarchist who was shot and killed by a Georgia State Patrol trooper after an officer was wounded in the leg during a raid of the Stop Cop City encampment on January 18, 2023. However on April 20, 2023 a Dekalb County medical examiner revealed that Teran was shot 57 times with wounds in his head, torso, hands and legs.
Jimmy Hill, father of Jimmy Atchinson who was shot and killed four years ago, by Atlanta police officer Sung Kim, said in an earlier interview that killing of the young protestor reminds him of his own personal police related tragedy. Atchison was was unarmed when he was shot in the face after a foot chase with Kim.
“When I think of [Tortuguita], and I saw that they were on their knees, I think about my son, who received [contradictory commands] and was killed.”
Cop City developers expect to break ground possibly as early as August of this year.