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(PHOTOS) Stop Cop City rally

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(PHOTOS) Stop Cop City rally

Community members, families, activists and educators chant “don’t cut down the trees, Black lives matter and stop Cop City” during a march in East Atlanta on Saturday, Dec. 3, 2022, to defend Weelaunee Forest (South River Forest) and stop “Cop City” from moving forward at the Old Atlanta Prison Farm. Photo by Dean Hesse.
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By Dean Hesse, contributor 

Atlanta, GA — Roughly 50-60 Atlanta community members, children, activists, families, and educators gathered at Brownwood Park in East Atlanta on Saturday, Dec. 3, to rally and march in defense of Weelaunee Forest.

The activists want to stop a public safety training facility dubbed “Cop City” by opponents from moving forward at the Old Atlanta Prison Farm.

Weelaunee is the name given to the South River by the native Muskogee (Creek) people who inhabited what is now DeKalb County before they were forcibly removed in the early 1800’s.

According to the Atlanta Regional Commission, South River Forest is an important greenspace that protects the South River watershed in southeast Atlanta and southwest DeKalb County. The area includes Intrenchment Creek Park, Gresham Park, the Atlanta Prison Farm, and Constitution Lakes Park.

Also, at risk of development is Intrenchment Creek Park, the subject of a controversial 2021 40-acre land swap between DeKalb County and Blackhall Studios.

Linda Grant, a member of the Weelaunee Coalition and early childhood lecturer at a state university said, “This is a movement that has been happening for close to two years and what we are trying to do is stop the destruction of the Weelaunee Forest for various reasons, including environmental of course, and it’s disenfranchising of communities that are mostly black and brown. Tearing down the forest to put up a cop training facility is not what the residents want.”

The Atlanta City Council on Sept. 7, 2021, voted 10-4 in favor of “Cop City” despite hearing 17 hours of public comment where 70% of the callers opposed the project.

One of the signs made by preschoolers at Brownwood Park in East Atlanta during a rally and march on Saturday, Dec. 3, 2022, to defend Weelaunee Forest (South River Forest) and stop “Cop City” from moving forward at the Old Atlanta Prison Farm. Photo by Dean Hesse.

Community members, families, activists and educators gather at Brownwood Park in East Atlanta for a rally and march on Saturday, Dec. 3, 2022, to defend Weelaunee Forest (South River Forest) and stop “Cop City” from moving forward at the Old Atlanta Prison Farm. Photo by Dean Hesse.

Craig Womack, a neighborhood resident and retired professor of Native American studies tells a story to children in attendance at Brownwood Park in East Atlanta on Saturday, Dec. 3, 2022, during a rally and march to defend Weelaunee Forest (South River Forest) and stop “Cop City” from moving forward at the Old Atlanta Prison Farm. Photo by Dean Hesse.

Sasha Von Hanna, a mother and member of the Weelaunee Coalition reads a letter from an 8-year-old classmate of her children written to Atlanta Mayor Andre Dickens which read in part, “I want to tell you how I feel. Make better choices. It’s wrong to take away things that produce air. Just wrong. Do you want to be a hero or a villain? It’s up to you.” Photo by Dean Hesse.

A person holds a sticker during a rally and march at Brownwood Park in East Atlanta on Saturday, Dec. 3, 2022, to defend Weelaunee Forest (South River Forest) and stop “Cop City” from moving forward at the Old Atlanta Prison Farm. Photo by Dean Hesse.

Children listen to speakers during a rally and march at Brownwood Park in East Atlanta on Saturday, Dec. 3, 2022, to defend Weelaunee Forest (South River Forest) and stop “Cop City” from moving forward at the Old Atlanta Prison Farm. Photo by Dean Hesse.

Craig Womack, a neighborhood resident and retired professor of Native American studies leads an introduction and thank you to every child in attendance during a rally and march at Brownwood Park in East Atlanta on Saturday, Dec. 3, 2022, to defend Weelaunee Forest (South River Forest) and stop “Cop City” from moving forward at the Old Atlanta Prison Farm. Photo by Dean Hesse.

Community members, families, activists and educators gather at Brownwood Park in East Atlanta for a rally and march on Saturday, Dec. 3, 2022, to defend Weelaunee Forest (South River Forest) and stop “Cop City” from moving forward at the Old Atlanta Prison Farm. Photo by Dean Hesse.

Community members, families, activists and educators march in East Atlanta on Saturday, Dec. 3, 2022, to defend Weelaunee Forest (South River Forest) and stop “Cop City” from moving forward at the Old Atlanta Prison Farm. Photo by Dean Hesse.

A bystander raises a fist and joins in a chant of “don’t cut down the trees” during a march in East Atlanta Village on Saturday, Dec. 3, 2022 to defend Weelaunee Forest (South River Forest) and stop “Cop City” from moving forward at the Old Atlanta Prison Farm. Photo by Dean Hesse.

Community members, families, activists and educators march along Glenwood Avenue in East Atlanta Village on Saturday, Dec. 3, 2022, to defend Weelaunee Forest (South River Forest) and stop “Cop City” from moving forward at the Old Atlanta Prison Farm. Photo by Dean Hesse.

Passing motorists honk their horns in support of community members, families, activists and educators marching in East Atlanta Village on Saturday, Dec. 3, 2022, to defend Weelaunee Forest (South River Forest) and stop “Cop City” from moving forward at the Old Atlanta Prison Farm. Photo by Dean Hesse.

Community members, families, activists and educators march in East Atlanta Village on Saturday, Dec. 3, 2022, to defend Weelaunee Forest (South River Forest) and stop “Cop City” from moving forward at the Old Atlanta Prison Farm. Photo by Dean Hesse.

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