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ACLU of Georgia resigns from Atlanta mayor’s ‘Cop City’ task force

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ACLU of Georgia resigns from Atlanta mayor’s ‘Cop City’ task force

On Monday, Jan. 16, 2023, over 100 people gathered outside the DeKalb County Courthouse in Decatur to demand District Attorney Sherry Boston drop all charges against six individuals arrested Dec. 13 & 14, 2022, during a police raid at the Old Atlanta Prison Farm, the site of the proposed 85-acre police/fire training facility for the city of Atlanta, dubbed “Cop City” by opponents. Photo by Dean Hesse.

By Jaedon Mason, contributor

Atlanta, GA — ACLU of Georgia’s Policy and Advocacy Director Christopher Bruce has resigned from the South River Forest and Public Safety Training Center Community Task Force that was put together by Atlanta Mayor Andre Dickens.

This resignation came just one day after the task force’s initial meeting on Wednesday, April 19. The closed-door meeting coincided with the release of the DeKalb County Coroner’s autopsy report on Manuel “Tortuguita” Teran, who was killed by police on Jan. 18.

The autopsy of Teran had a few key details, particularly the fact that the victim had 57 gunshot wounds and that no gunpowder residue was seen by examiners on the victim’s hands. Police allege Teran shot at and wounded a State Trooper during the January incident. 

The presence of gunpowder residue on the hands is used by law enforcement to help determine whether a person fired a gun, and the lack of it doesn’t definitively mean Teran didn’t fire a gun. The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported on April 25 that “particles characteristic of gunshot primer residue” were found on Teran’s hands, according to a Georgia Bureau of Investigation report. According to the AJC, the report says that it is possible for gunshot victims to have such residue on their hands. To read the full story, click here.

The Atlanta mayor announced the task force on March 1, and is one of the two bodies created by the city to facilitate community engagement. The other of which, the Community Stakeholders Advisory Committee (CSAC), has notably canceled its required monthly meetings in both February and March for undisclosed reasons.

This lack of transparency caused Bruce to resign his post on the task force, citing the closed-door nature of the April 19 meeting and the “release of the report months after Tortuguita’s death,” Bruce said in a statement. “I have lost faith in trying to increase transparency through the task force.”

In the press release announcing Bruce’s resignation, the ACLU of Georgia also stated their opposition to “the leveling of domestic terrorism charges against protesters,” viewing it as an “over-criminalization of demonstrators under a constitutionally dubious statute.”

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