By: Sharon R. Fennema, Tracy Howe and Jessi Quinn
The City of Atlanta has leased 381 acres of Weelaunee Forest to the Atlanta Police Foundation for a militarized police training facility funded by corporations. At the price of 90 million dollars, it includes a mock city to practice urban warfare, tear gas and explosives testing, dozens of shooting ranges, and a Black Hawk helicopter landing pad. Supported by the Atlanta Committee for Progress, which is composed of over 40 corporate elites including the CEOs of Coca-Cola, Home Depot and Cox, its aim is to further the surveillance of the population, stifling dissent, and gentrification of the city.
God of the angel-armies, whose might is the power of love,
we call on you to protect and empower our kindom-building by stopping cop city.
In the name of Peace, Justice and Freedom we pray. Amen.
Learn about the ongoing movement from local Atlanta Organizers and how communities of faith have responded:
The construction of Cop City is intersectional in its harm and impact; the mobilization in opposition must also be intersectional and reflect our solidarity with one another.
Holy Trinity, God-in-Community,
open us to the wisdom of generations who have stewarded the land before us.
Align our prayers and our hearts to defend the future the ancestors dreamed.
Building solidarity, we pray. Amen.
Learn how you can participate in building solidarity with Indigenous community and forest defenders:
A Letter from Weelaunee Forest by Michelle Sayles
The movement to #StopCopCity is one of environmental justice. The proposed site for the police training facility is the 3,500-acre forest that protects the headwaters of Georgia’s largest and most biologically diverse watershed, which supplies drinking water to millions of people downstream. It is also home to more than 175 species of wildlife. The city has called South River Forest “one of Atlanta’s lungs,” providing clean air and a contiguous canopy of shaded, protected lands within the heavily developed beltway.
Inhale: The forest is our lungs.
Exhale: We keep breathing together.
Learn more about the movement to defend the forest, the water, and those who rely on them:
Memeorial Piece for Tort by N. O. Bonzo
Tortuguita, named by family Manuel Esteban Paez Terán, known affectionately to many as Tort, was a community medic and forest defender. On the morning of January 18, they were murdered in a sleeping tent by members of the Georgia State Patrol during a surprise raid on Weelaunee Forest. An independent autopsy showed they were sitting cross-legged with their hands up when they were shot 57 times by police.
Sitting in a posture of prayer, with arms & hands raised as you are able:
Deliver us, Holy One, from evil.
Protect the protectors.
Defend the defenders.
Heal the healers.
Activate the activists.
Move the movement makers.
Raise up those who rise up.
That we might be living embodiments
of the memory of those whose lives have been stolen by state violence,
we pray. Amen.
Learn more about Tortuguita and their legacy of community care and environmental justice:
Defender a las Defensoras (Defend the Defenders) by Pilar Emitxin
On September 15, 2023, Georgia’s Attorney General Chris Carr brought RICO (Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations) charges against 61 people. Prior to this extraordinary attempt to quell protest and squelch dissent, several protestor and protectors had already been charged with Domestic Terrorism. As the National Lawyer’s Guild notes, “The indictments are clearly intended to serve a political end: that is, to silence the protest movement, to prevent it from having access to attorneys, bail support and even legal observation.” Most alarmingly, the indictment cites “mutual aid,” “collectivism” and “solidarity” as evidence of the conspiracy. Kamau Franklin of Community Movement Builders said, “The Stop Cop City Movement will not be intimidated by continued false charges & we will not be criminalized. Our movement is broad, our tactics diverse and our aim is to continue to fight police and state terror and protect our comrades.”
God, make us instruments of your new world rising.
Where justice is criminalized, let us sow abolition.
Where there is repression, resistance.
Where there is silencing, persistence.
Where there is punishment, collective liberation.
Where there is isolating, mutual aid.
Where there are efforts to divide, solidarity.
For it is in con-spiring – breathing with each other –
that we find justice and joy. Amen.
Learn more about this increasing repression and the movements to get these charges dropped:
Among the many and diverse efforts to prevent the construction of the militarized police training facility known as Cop City has been an effort to launch a ballot referendum, allowing voters in Atlanta to decide whether the facility should be built. At every turn, this effort has been met with obstacles from Atlanta city officials. Despite submitting 116,000 signatures (twice as many as required), these officials have refused to proceed with the ballot referendum procedure – another instance of increasing repression of the people’s voice in determining the future of the Weelaunee forest and the City of Atlanta.
God who hears us,
when those with power try to silence our Hosanna cries for justice,
give us the courage to promise as you did,
that we won’t stop until the very stones take up the song
and the people are free. Amen.
Learn more about the Cop City Vote efforts and the city’s response:
Stop Cop City by Dio Cramer
A lot has been said in the media to disparage who the Forest Defenders and Stop Cop City Movement participants are. From terrorists and outside agitators to racketeers involved in an elaborate conspiracy, many activists including the RICO 61, have had their motives questioned and their efforts for justice violently targeted and severely punished. We know that those in power often use tactics like these to shift public opinion and undermine movements. We also know that those fighting to stop cop city and save the Weelaunee forest are motivated by deep abiding love and commitments to a future beyond policing, prisons and punishment. Today, let our act of solidarity be to hear these activists share their vision and motivations in their own words and discover and discern how we, too, are called to move together with this movement.
Source and Ground of my being,
I long to respond to the justice that sings to me,
the truths that call for me,
the love that whispers my name,
the freedom that beckons me.
Lead me and guide me toward the action
for which my soul yearns. Amen.
Learn more about the RICO 61 and others who have worked to Stop Cop City:
Stop Cop City by Dio Cramer
There are so many different roles to play in movements like the one to Stop Cop City. You’ll find organizers and strategists, artists and cultural workers, medics and healers, chaplains and spiritual care-providers, cooks and action supporters, lawyers, observers and jail support. You’ll see people who take direct action and people who write letters and people who feed pets and offer childcare. As the apostle Paul described the Body of Christ: many gifts, one Spirit. As many movement organizers will say, “get in where you fit in.” What gifts might you be able to offer to Stop Cop City?
Consider a gift you have to offer the movement to Stop Cop City:
Inhale: I offer my gift to the movement of the Spirit.
Exhale: Alongside others, may it be enough.
Learn more about how to support #StopCopCity:
We Have Everything We Need by Mary Tremonte
“Nonviolent direct action seeks to create such a crisis and establish such creative tension that a community that has consistently refused to negotiate is forced to confront the issue. It seeks so to dramatize the issue that it can no longer be ignored. I just referred to the creation of tension as a part of the work of the nonviolent resister. This may sound rather shocking. But I must confess that I am not afraid of the word ‘tension.’ I have earnestly worked and preached against violent tension, but there is a type of constructive nonviolent tension that is necessary for growth.”
– Martin Luther King, Jr., Letter from a Birmingham Jail
This is our vision and the future we will know:
Cop City will never be built.
The forest will be restored.
The land will be healed.
The people will be free.
God, our refuge and strength,
keep us in the struggle,
until this future vision is our present joy. Amen.
Learn more about today’s mass nonviolent direct action:
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