Police in DeKalb County and Atlanta respond with helicopters, drones as local residents gather to protect land in South River Forest
ATLANTA — On Tues., Jan. 18, around 2 p.m., The Mainline received community reports of heavy machinery and tree cutting taking place in the Old Atlanta Prison Farm land located in the South River Forest. The land was originally inhabited by Muscogee (Creek) indigenous peoples before their forced removal in the 1800s. Tribal leaders and members, now based in Eastern Oklahoma, joined with Atlanta organizers in the #StopCopCity coalition in a historic migration and stomp dance ceremony in the forest last November.
Local residents gathered in the forest in response to the apparent bulldozing. The construction continues in the face of ongoing dissent against the city’s plans to build a massive $90 police militarization facility known as “Cop City.”
According to our sources, who have opted to maintain their anonymity in exchange for information for this reporting, roughly 10 people were present in the forest to prevent the bulldozing. Police responded by sending helicopters and drones to surveil the area. Although no arrests were made, one person was detained and held in a police car after an officer pointed a weapon at them in the forest. The person detained was forced to sign a criminal trespass warning document before being released.
“It is clear that the police have no interest in listening to what the community wants for this land,” the person detained told us in a statement after being released. “Helicopters and drones flying overhead in response to people showing up to protect our local forest… this is what APD’s police budget is being spent on. This type of inappropriate and violent response will only be amplified if this facility is built.”
Last year, Atlanta City Council authorized a $230 million police budget, accounting for one-third of the entire city budget and a $15 million increase from the previous year.
Construction crew company Reeves Young is currently contracted for the city and Atlanta Police Foundation’s plans to build a new police militarization base/training facility. Local organizers have put together a call to action against Reeves Young to terminate their construction in the forest.
The ordinance to authorize a ground lease between APF and the City of Atlanta for the facility was introduced to Atlanta City Council in June 2020. It was ultimately passed on Sept. 8 in a 10-4 despite widespread opposition throughout the city.
We will continue to report on the #StopCopCity movement and resistance in Atlanta as it develops.