Open Letter to Mayor Andre Dickens and the Atlanta City Council
Open Letter to Mayor Andre Dickens
Atlanta City Council
National Council of Elders
May 15, 2023
Stop Cop City
We, the National Council of Elders, representing the movements of the 20th Century that have moved and transformed this country call upon Mayor Andre Dickens to Stop Cop City. This project defiles the legacy of progressive struggles for human rights in which the city of Atlanta has played an historic role.
This ill-conceived, corporate driven project has already taken the life of Manuel Tortuguita Teran, who was dedicated to the protection of the forest. The use of force to remove demonstrators and the beginning of clear cutting of sacred land represents the kind of thinking that enabled the “Trail of Tears” that originally opened this land to settler colonialists and paved the way for the expansion of slavery.
As a Mayor and Council elected in the aftermath of movements dedicated to justice, reparations, and reconciliation, your actions are in defiance of the wishes of the community. Across the city and the country people are calling for investment in community led programs to enrich the lives of people, to expand education, healthcare, housing and access to basic needs and services. Yet you are supporting the development of one of the largest police facilities in the world. This project enacts and symbolizes the triple evils that Dr. Martin Luther King gave his life to overcome: racism, materialism, and militarism.
The decision by city officials to permit 85 acres of the Weelaunee Forest to be destroyed to create a highly militarized police training ground complete with a “mock city” to develop strategies for urban control is a violation of the city’s own recognition that this land should be protected. In 2017, acknowledging that this is a sacred area stolen from the Muscogee Creek peoples, Atlanta promised to protect this area as part of a broad vision for ecological health. Instead under pressure from the Atlanta Police Foundation the city is planning to gut the forest and create a highly militarized zone bordered by a predominantly African American community.
This project has been resisted by the community since its inception. It has been condemned by human rights organizations and environmental protectors. We add our voice to this condemnation and pledge our resistance to this project. We urge Mayor Dickens and the City Council to take up the call of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr and turn away from this racist, corporate, militaristic project.
We urge you to Stop Cop City immediately and to begin the demilitarization of the Atlanta Police Force.
We stand in solidarity with the people of Atlanta who deserve safety and respect and with all those who are raising their voices against this tragic effort.
The National Council of Elders
Rachel Agoyo – Dorothy Aldridge – Judy Baca – Dorsey Blake – Lewis Brandon – Candie Carawan Mandy Carter – Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz – Marian Wright Edelman – John Fife – Aljosie Aldrich Harding – David Hartsough – Gloria Aneb House – Shea Howell – Dolores Huerta – Phil Hutchins Joyce Hobson Johnson – Nelson Johnson – Frank Joyce – James Lawson, Jr. – Philip Lawson
Sherri Maurin – Catherine Meeks – Ed Nakawatase – Gus Newport – Myrna Pagan – Suzanne Pharr Lyn Pyle – Bernice Reagon Johnson – Loretta Ross – Kathy ‘Wan Povi’ Sanchez – Shirely Sherrod Zoharah Simmons – Barbara Smith – Louie Vitale – Hollis Watkins – Arthur Waskow
Junius Williams – Janet Wolf