An insider account of the battle to stop the construction of the Atlanta Public Safety Training Center, better known as “Cop City,” in a Georgia forest:
On a Tuesday in early September, the city council hosts a public meeting over Zoom where Atlantans speak on the record for seventeen hours. At least two-thirds object to the police academy plans. Neighbors hate the snap-crackle-pop of gunshots from the firing range the APF has already built on the property, and just imagine how much louder and more frequent this will be when the police move the whole arsenal over. A public school teacher asks why the police department let their last training center collapse. What are their priorities? DSA members pose the decision as an existential question, not only for Atlanta, but for America. The old ultimatum of socialism or barbarism has been reframed by young organizers as care or cops. They accuse the city council of divesting from public services, sowing poverty and desperation, and then swelling the ranks of the police to keep it under control.
The following day, the city council votes ten to four to approve the lease of the land to the Atlanta Police Foundation anyway. The mayor makes a statement: It “will give us physical space to ensure that our officers and firefighters are receiving 21st-century training, rooted in respect and regard for the communities they serve.” We blink past the obvious hypocrisy, drawn instead to that watchword training, deceptively neutral, the ostensible justification of a million liberal reforms, because who could argue against training? The police after all are like dogs: best when they obey. But obey what?