The plan for an Atlanta police training facility known as "Cop City" is the latest phase of state repression in that region.
This statement was originally published in the Black Alliance for Peace website.
Atlanta is historically described as “The Black Mecca” and more contemporarily referred to as “Wakanda.” The Black Alliance for Peace Atlanta (BAP-Atlanta) rejects this deception because we know that since the 90s the population of Black people in Atlanta has decreased by more than 20% due to gentrification and that Black people overwhelmingly make up the majority of the houseless population. Although we have a Black Mayor, a Black City Council, and other Black elected officials, the income inequality gap has increased as more and more Black/African people have been displaced and forced into poverty, in large part due to the policies of these Black misleaders. The Black politicians, celebrities, clergy, HBCUs, and business owners are “readily prepared to ‘sell out the interests of the overwhelmingly working class Black masses’ (Ford, 2018) for the sake of capitalist, corporate, or imperialist interests.” (Springer 2020). Instead of defunding the police, the elected officials have increased funding for racist, violent policing.
BAP-Atlanta sees that violence in the U.S. and around the world are linked. One example of that connection is the relationship between two settler colonies - the U.S. and Israel. Since 2002, exchange programs have taken place that bring together U.S. police, ICE agents, the FBI, and other law enforcement with their counterparts in Israel. In these programs, worst practices are shared to promote the militarization and occupation of the working class and poor Black and Brown communities. Founded by Robert Friedmann, Professor Emeritus of Criminal Justice at Georgia State University, Georgia International Law Enforcement Exchange (GILEE) is the local manifestation of the Deadly Exchange program, in which U.S. and Israeli police and Israeli military share hyper-militarized policing techniques and technology and physically travel to zionist Israel to engage in this exchange.
Atlanta participates in the 1033 program, through which the U.S. Department of Defense transfers military equipment to local state and federal law enforcement agencies. It is the critical source of the most visible, big-ticket military items being sent to local law enforcement across the country. Originally known as the 1208 Program, this program was created in 1990 for two specific reasons: to eliminate military surplus waste following the Cold War, and to assist in the hardline federal push of the “war on drugs.” From 2009 to 2018, police departments in Georgia received $43.5 million in firearms, vehicles and other gear from the military through the program. Georgia has also received more than 2,700 military rifles, night vision goggles and laser gun sights, and literally hundreds of armored vehicles, including more than two dozen mine-resistant vehicles built to fight the war on terror abroad.
The Atlanta Police Foundation is a private non-profit that allows corporations and wealthy donors to fund police terrorism in Atlanta. It supports various police programs, including Operation Shield, “a network of advanced technologies that create more efficient policing including the citywide network of surveillance cameras and license plate readers, predictive policing platform and criminal analytics software.” Through Operation Shield, police officers view footage captured by the Foundation’s privately owned cameras. When the initiative was announced in September 2011, authorities had access to about 100 public and private cameras. Today it’s nearly 12,000. The police foundation has funded these cameras to monitor and surveil Black people every second of the day.
The foundation has also been instrumental in the effort to establish a new “Public Safety” Training Center, also known as Cop City, to be located across 150 acres of the old Atlanta Prison Farm. This training facility — larger than 85 NFL football fields combined — would include shooting ranges, spaces for militarized drills, and a mock city complete with buildings and roads to allow APD to practice urban warfare tactics, including bomb testing and tear gas deployment. At this new installation, police will learn military-like maneuvers to kill Black people and control our bodies and movements. The Cop City new training facility is yet another massive, militarized, and corporate-funded project that the police foundation is trying to prop up behind closed doors.
Black people in the United States have a colonial relationship with the larger society. It is a relationship characterized by over-policing and institutional racism. This colonial status operates in three areas: politically, economically, and socially. We are politically stunted, with our political decisions made for us due to a lack of power. We are economically disenfranchised, depending on larger society. This is maintained by a social order that designates police in our communities as occupying forces, and the rationale and objective of increased militarism is to maintain the hegemony of the Pan-European, colonial/capitalist, and patriarchal, white supremacist system.
The South is the base of U.S. military infrastructure. It’s also where 55 percent of Black people happen to live. BAP identifies this region as a priority for collective learning, organizing, and mobilizing the power and influence of Black workers and the poor to oppose militarism, war, and imperialism.
Footnote: Atlanta Police Foundation | Technology & Innovation