Two Atlanta activists halt work at Brasfield & Gorrie construction site, demands company “Drop Cop City”

Two activists locked themselves to construction equipment at a Brasfield & Gorrie work site in Midtown. The activists, who were locked to equipment for over four hours, were arrested and charged with criminal trespass.

ATLANTA—Early Monday morning, two Stop Cop City activists used reinforced pipes to lock themselves to construction equipment at a Brasfield & Gorrie work site in Midtown Atlanta. Due to the protest, all vehicle entrances to the facility were blocked and construction at the site was completely halted. Police responded around 6:30 a.m. and removed the activists by 11 a.m.

Police responded to the construction site around 6:30 a.m. Protesters were removed by 11 a.m. Around 30 people gathered in support of the activists. Photo credit: Save Weelaunee Coalition/2024.

The Birmingham-based company Brasfield & Gorrie is a lead contractor for “Cop City,” a $90 million-plus police militarization facility being built in the Weelaunee Forest nested in unincorporated DeKalb County. The forest was originally inhabited by Muscogee Creek tribe before they were forcibly removed in the 1830s. Since 2021, the Stop Cop City movement has formed a widespread opposition against the facility, with many locals in dissent due to concerns of environmental racism, increased police violence, and accelerated climate change disaster in an already over-policed and low-income predominantly Black community. Activists today stated they targeted the midtown Brasfield & Gorrie site as a way to pressure the company to cut ties with the Cop City project.

On Mon., Jan. 29, a protester locked themselves to construction equipment at a Brasfield & Gorrie construction site in midtown Atlanta. The cast molded around their arms reads “No Cop City.” Photo credit: Save Weelaunee Coalition/2024.

“Brasfield & Gorrie should expect disruptions at their worksites everywhere, and anytime,” says Mariah Parker, a local Stop Cop City activist, in an official press release statement. “People of good conscience will continue taking action against Brasfield & Gorrie until they join the host of other contractors who have cut ties with Cop City.”

In addition to their contract work for Cop City, Brasfield & Gorrie has also pledged to donate over $1 million to the Atlanta Police Foundation, a nonprofit organization that is bankrolling the project. Justin Rannick, a Brasfield & Gorrie executive, also sits on the APF advisory board. According to organizers, since Cop City was first proposed, several contractors have dropped out of the project, including Reeves Young Construction and Atlas Technical Consultants.

More recently, activists have expressed growing frustration over the City of Atlanta’s efforts to block residents from voting on whether or not Cop City should be built. Last year, organizers collected over 116,000 signatures in a historic referendum ballot initiative, which the City has halted from moving forward at every turn.

On Mon., Jan. 29, a protester locked themselves to construction equipment at a Brasfield & Gorrie construction site in midtown Atlanta. The cast molded around their arms reads “Viva Tort.” Climate activist Manuel “Tortuguita” Terán, also known as “Tort,” was violently killed by police in the forest on Jan. 18, 2023. Photo credit: Save Weelaunee Coalition/2024.

“As a volunteer for the Cop City Vote referendum initiative, I knocked on doors across Atlanta gathering petition signatures, including in this exact neighborhood where I took action today,” said Temperance, one of the activists who locked themselves to equipment at the Brasfield & Gorrie site, in an official press statement. “Myself and countless other residents have tried every legal avenue to Stop Cop City—but the city government has stonewalled us every step of the way.”

The protest group also drew attention to the connections between Cop City and the ongoing genocide being committed by Israel in occupied Palestine. Organizers specifically call to an end of the Georgia International Law Enforcement Exchange (GILEE) program, a police training program housed at Georgia State University wherein Georgia law enforcement officers train with Israeli military.

“The violent tactics used against Palestinians are brought back to Atlanta and used in our city,” explains Raizel, a Jewish-American activist locked down at the construction site. “The Israeli military trains our police in surveillance, racial profiling, detention, and violent force. Cop City would be used to expand this program. To sit by while Black people and Palestinians are dehumanized is antithetical to the Torah. Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel said prayer is meaningless unless it is subversive! If we as Jews are meant to repair the world, we must start prayers with our feet.”

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