The $90 million police training facility slated for construction is drawing criticism and concern from local HBCUs.
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- “Cop City” is the moniker that has been given to an Atlanta police training facility slated for construction soon.
- Since the announcement of the facility in 2021, it has been a source of constant protests and controversy.
- HBCU students and faculty in Atlanta let their concerns about the facility be known during an open forum at Morehouse College last week.
- As of Monday, an open letter from Morehouse faculty denouncing the facility has been signed by over 40 professors and other faculty members.
When the city of Atlanta announced plans to build an 85-acre police training facility in an area forest in 2021, the announcement was met with immediate backlash and calls to “Stop Cop City.”
Nearly two years after that initial announcement, protests continue to ramp up in the surrounding area, and Atlanta-based historically Black colleges and universities (HBCUs) are letting their outrage — and worries — be known.
On Feb. 2, just two days after Atlanta Mayor Andre Dickens announced that construction of the facility would move forward despite rising protests, Atlanta University Center Consortium (AUCC) students interrupted a Morehouse College forum asking for the university to denounce the funding and endorsement of “Cop City.”
In a video posted to Twitter, students can be seen with their fists raised above their heads and chanting, “Morehouse College, we need you here.”
AUC students interrupted crown forum to demand the school denounce the funding of Cop City! pic.twitter.com/B24MdzL8bg
— The Maroon Tiger (@themaroontiger) February 2, 2023
In another video, one student stands at the podium to address the crowd and states, “We are here to discuss a system that is historically and continuously oppressing our community … we are here to address Morehouse’s contributions to a system that does not serve Black people.”
Morehouse students are joined by Spellman students and faculty to protest Cop City, denounce police militarism, and call out Andre Dickins @andreforatlanta at school forum #StopCopCity. pic.twitter.com/ML5r1TpMKO
— Kamau Franklin (@kamaufranklin) February 3, 2023
On the same day, Morehouse College faculty issued an open letter against the construction of the facility, proclaiming that “there is simply no place for Cop City in the beloved community.” As of Monday, the letter has been signed by more than 40 of the university’s professors and faculty members.
Much of this outrage stems from the long history of police brutality against Black and brown communities in the city of Atlanta and across the country. And at Morehouse College and many other HBCUs throughout the nation, negative police interactions with students have only added to feelings of distrust and unease on and around campuses.
Many in Atlanta’s local Black community also fear that with the introduction of the police training facility will be “more death and destruction at the hands of the police,” as Morehouse faculty stated in their open letter.
A fatal shooting on the proposed facility site has already occurred after Georgia law enforcement agencies entered the forest last month to remove sitting protesters.
The deceased, Manuel “Tortuguita” Teran, was a protester who, according to police, shot and wounded a Georgia State Patrol trooper and was subsequently killed. The circumstances surrounding Teran’s death are still being investigated as attorneys for his family claim he was shot at least 13 times.
But another element to the outrage over “Cop City” is its physical location.
The $90 million facility will be built in the Weelaunee Forest on land once occupied by the Muscogee Creek Nation. The land also previously was the site of a slave labor camp and a prison farm throughout its history.
Outside of its history, in order to build on this land, a significant part of the forest will be stripped of its trees. Though reforestation efforts have been announced in the plans for construction, climate activists, including students, are not pleased.
There is no word on if AUCC students from Morehouse, Spelman College, or other Atlanta-based HBCUs plan to continue protesting, but these students are no strangers to letting their voices be heard and it is likely that the city of Atlanta will hear from them again soon.