The Welaunee forest of the Muskogee peoples in Atlanta is currently under threat of being clearcutted for police and entertainment industry interests. The Atlanta police department, in collaboration with Blackhall studios and their wealthy donors (AT&T, BOA, etc), plan to destroy over 300 acres of the Welaunee forest. The APD plan to create a paramilitary training base featuring a $90M mock city; Blackhall Studios seeks to cut 170 acres of forest to create an airfield and the largest soundstage in America. Over 70% of residents oppose these plans (Mahoney), which is not accounted for by the government. This forest is the city's main defense from overheating and flooding, effects of climate change that are expected to amplify over coming years. Clear cutting the forest will worsen air quality, and hit low income communities of color the hardest because they reside near this forest. Current and future use of chemical weapons by police in the mock city will poison the local soil and waters. The noise pollution from gunfire will disturb the natural rhythms of the forest ecosystem, and contribute to a stressful environment for the mental health of local residents; many have trauma
Since the start of land clearance in early 2021, Land Defenders and activists have been camping in the forest in an attempt to halt the construction of this worksite, and have been successful in doing so. Defenders from many places have camped out in treehouses with banners in the welaunee forest.
In a solidarity statement with land defense, Native speaker Mekko Cherbon Kernell says how “One tree killed in violence is violent to everyone. One waterway desecrated hurts everyone in the world.”
Land Defenders posted this image on Instagram, via @defendATLforest, with the caption:
“Atlanta Police have a school bus that cops shoot up at their firing range. This is the existing basis for #CopCity. Neighboring children in surrounding Dekalb County are subjected to hearing daily rapid gunfire and even explosions from the APD range.”
In the early 1800s, the land was stolen from Creek and Cherokee peoples, then turned into the site of a cruel prison plantation where inmates were forced to do unpaid agricultural labor (Garrison). The ongoing expansion of a policing empire here means developing further disdainful techniques to suppress civilian action under a surveillance state. Every day that passes, the police are defending the privatization of public and essential forests while the planet burns.
The centuries-long struggle for indigenous land rights is one and the same with the fight against the degradation of wilderness that breathes life into this world. From the Zapatista struggle in Mexico, The Mapuche struggle in Chile, the fight against Line 3 on Anishinaabe lands, the resistance goes on.
Support Land defenders at defendtheatlantaforest.com
Photo by David Walter Banks/The Guardian
Adam Mahoney, “To Residents, Razing Atlanta Forest for ‘Cop City’ project is ‘an Act of Disinvestment” https://atlanta.capitalbnews.org/atlanta-cop-city-climate-change/
Tim Alan Garrison, Cherokee removal https://www.georgiaencyclopedia.org/articles/history-archaeology/cherokee-removal/
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