Atlanta politicians use rhetoric of mass incarceration, approve $ 90 million for “Cop City”

Atlanta City Council recently approved $ 90 million in funding to build a massive police training facility dubbed “Cop City,” and local community activists, including the criminal defense and civil rights lawyer, Tiffany Roberts, are not very happy.

There had been a significant setback against the financing and construction of the facility. Yet on September 8, city council voted 10-4 to approve the $ 90 million facility to be built on 85 acres of city-owned land, The Daily Beast reported. The effort was supported by outgoing Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms and Governor Brian Kemp.

Before the vote, Kemp sent a letter to city council urging them to vote yes for the project. The governor argued that more training was needed because “residents of our capital are plagued by a drastic increase in violent crime.” For many critics, Kemp’s statement and those of other local politicians reflected the rhetoric of mass incarceration.

At a press conference, Bottoms, who supported the project, said council members who voted in favor of the training center were “courageous” and showed their willingness to promote public safety, morale. and retention of the police department a priority.

But community organizers such as Roberts say the facility does not bode well for Black Mecca, an Atlanta nickname, which is nearly 50.95% black.

Critics of the project say “Cop City” will not address the root causes of the crime. Instead, it will militarize the Atlanta Police Force and give them more resources that likely won’t make a difference for the community, The Daily Beast reported.

“Every branch of municipal government has turned its back on black Atlanta in favor of an alarmist policy motivated by fear of whites or by capitalizing on inadequate resources to intervene against violence in black communities,” Roberts wrote. in Essence.

Roberts tweeted: “I wrote this piece for @Essence because of the split that our city officials are perpetually looking away from. I have always been told not to tire of doing well. Atlanta makes it harder to listen to that word every day.

In 2020, Mayor Bottoms created the Progressive Agenda Working Group (PAWG) with the aim of creating a “fairer city”. Through the PAWG, Roberts co-chaired Mayor Bottoms’ Use of Force Advisory Council and helped draft dozens of recommendations to address state violence. This included the Atlanta Police Department eliminating its quota-based performance appraisal system in favor of arrest-inducing alternatives, made possible by another community-based program — Policing Alternatives & Diversion initiative. The next “Cop City” was not among the recommendations.

With the approval of “Cop City, Roberts wrote that the PAWG’s goal of equality is all but lost and that the police plan will address the fears of white city residents.

Roberts wrote: “The perilous web woven by Atlanta’s black class, white wealth and law enforcement leave justice-seeking communities weary. Yet we are determined to harness the power we have built until one day the courage of our leaders matches our own.

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The planned “Cop City” facility will include state-of-the-art explosives testing areas, shooting ranges and a fictional city. The Atlanta Police Foundation, a powerful police advocacy group, is the project’s main funder.

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