Protests in Atlanta, Georgia continue after opponents of the city’s developing 85-acre, $90 million police training facility hit another roadblock.
City officials have planned to invest nearly $100 million in an 85-acre police training facility. In response, citizens in the area have raised several ethical and legal concerns about what critics call “Cop City.” Just last week, state authorities charged more than 60 residents involved in protest efforts with racketeering. According to a report from The Daily Beast, protesters have been accused of “conspiracy on the basis of them handing out fliers, running a bail fund, or (in one case) acting as a legal observer at a protest.”
This week, protesters attempted to challenge the development of “Cop City” by submitting a petition with approximately 115,000 signatures from local residents who oppose the facility’s construction. Under local law, a petition with signatures from at least 15% of local voters should trigger a referendum or vote. However, city officials are attempting to sidestep the petition and vote by arguing that it was submitted after “the August 21 statutory deadline.” The dispute over the submission deadline stems from another dispute regarding who signed the petition and where they live. The majority of Atlanta residents live in Fulton County, but approximately 10% of its residents reportedly live in DeKalb County. City officials have argued that DeKalb County residents should not be able to sign the petition, but those who live in the county have sued to be included in the petition. Successful at first, the lawsuit extended the petition submission deadline until September 23. However, an appeal from the city, while not final, pushed the deadline back to August 21.
“This is yet another disgraceful push by the city to stonewall democracy, showing that Mayor [Andre] Dickens and the City of Atlanta fear the power of their constituents,” The Vote To Stop Cop City Coalition stated.
“The City was notified on Thursday of our intention to submit, yet was too cowardly to release any response, or even respond to our email, until after we arrived—even their press conference is virtual to ensure the people cannot attend. Shame on the City for playing games with the sweat, hard work, and demands of 116,000 of their constituents.”