Climate Movement Monday: Weelaunee Forest & Cop City

Welcome back to Movement Mondays in which I highlight a frontline community that’s disproportionately affected by the climate crisis and then offer an opportunity for you to take action on that community’s behalf. Today the focus is on the South River Forest aka Weelaunee Forest and Cop City in Atlanta, surrounded by a largely Black neighborhood. Note: I started writing my own version of events but realized there was no point in reinventing the wheel. Here, instead, are some handy graphics from Defend the Atlanta Forest to get you up to speed:

Additional info: from 2017-2021, the South River Forest (Weelaunee) was the centerpiece of a proposed 3,500-acre greenspace that would be protected from development. Then Cop City was announced in November 2021. Read the history of the forest that includes stolen Muscogee land and a prison farm (here and here).

Additional info: Cop City would be the largest police training facility in the U.S., training police in urban warfare using firearms, tear gas, helicopters, and explosive devices. Cop City is made possible through donations to the Atlanta Police Foundation from entities such as Amazon, UPS, Delta Airlines, Home Depot*, and Wells Fargo.



Additional info: Dekalb County Commission plans to bulldoze an historic cemetery in an adjacent neighborhood in order to build a $5 million intersection for trucks servicing the movie studio.




Additional info: the Atlanta PD has also charged 42 people with domestic terrorism, the majority arrested while attending a peaceful music festival in the forest. “Domestic terrorism” carries a minimum 5-year sentence and maximum 35-year sentence. Previously, this charge came as result of injury or death to 10+ people, but is now being used in relation to property damage.

In summary, what we’re witnessing here is climate destruction and an escalation of the police state. It’s no coincidence that as conditions worsen for workers and the most vulnerable communities in this country, and as the climate crisis ratchets up, the powerful are pushing to expand and militarize the police. They see the dystopian future in which desperate people will be fighting for food and water, and have decided that rather than invest in people and planet, it’s best to train police in urban warfare in order to suppress uprisings against the ruling elite.

There are many tactics being used to #StopCopCity and while I live in Colorado, I’ve been able to show solidarity by making legal donations, along with phone calls and emails asking contractors to PLEASE earn goodwill in their community that overwhelmingly opposes this project by cutting ties with Cop City.  Defend the Forest offers these suggestions:

There are many ways to get involved. You can support online, help organize your community, show up for actions, or any other number of activities depending on your availability and comfort level. The movement appreciates the need for diverse tactics, meaning many forms of struggle that move towards a common goal. Here’s some more ideas:

  • You can sign up for sporadic text alerts here: 470.606.1212
  • You can Visit the forest at 3251 W Side Place, Atlanta GA 30316.
  • You can donate to on-the-ground forest defense and community groups.
  • You can donate to legal & bail support fund for protestors.
  • You can donate to the lawsuit challenging the Dekalb County movie studio land swap.
  • You can organize protests, send phone calls or emails, or help with direct actions of different kinds to encourage contractors of the various projects to stop the destruction. You can find some of the contractors here:
  • Call Brasfield & Gorrie (678.581.6400), the Atlanta Police Foundation (770.354.3392), and the City of Atlanta (404.330.6100) and ask them to cancel the project and to remain peaceful with tree-sitters and other on-the-ground protesters.
  •  You can form an Action Group in your community, neighborhood, town, city, college, or scene. Together, you can host information nights, movie screenings, potluck dinners, and protests at the offices of contractors, at the homes of the board members, on campus, or elsewhere. You can post and pass out fliers at public places and shows, knock on doors to talk to neighbors and sign them up for text alerts, fundraisers, or actions, or you can innovate new activities altogether.
  • You can conduct independent research about the destruction of the forest, construction projects, their funders, their contractors, or lesser-known details about the project using public records searches or other open source investigation techniques and send your findings to us at defendtheatlantaforest[at]protonmail[dot]com
  • You can organize to join or create a camp in the South River/Weelaunee Forest. Respect people’s space and try to be friendly.
  • Finally, you and friends or your group could organize to caravan down to the forest from near or far during weeks of action.

THANK YOU IF YOU’VE READ THIS FAR! I’D LOVE TO HEAR YOUR THOUGHTS ON ALL THIS. It’s a lot of information, but it’s important to have this on our radar.

The powerful believe they can stream-roll over people and planet. Me? I believe in people power. Solidarity! ✊🏽

*update: Home Depot Workers United calls for Home Depot to pull their support for Cop City

4 thoughts on “Climate Movement Monday: Weelaunee Forest & Cop City

  1. Pingback: Climate Movement Monday: celebrating NY’s Green New Deal | Tracy Abell

Comments are closed.