Mar 1, 2023 - News

Atlanta mayor forms 'Cop City' task force

Illustration of a cityscape with buildings that have police badge-shaped windows.

Illustration: Brendan Lynch/Axios

The city is looking for more input on how it should develop the controversial public safety training center and surrounding property that was once home to the Atlanta Prison Farm.

Driving the news: Mayor Andre Dickens on Tuesday announced he will appoint 40 members to a new task force this month.

  • According to a city press release, the task force will make suggestions to the city on memorializing the Prison Farm, sustainability efforts, parks and recreation and public safety training curriculum.
  • The task force will also be asked to provide feedback on community engagement, future potential memorials and other public uses for the site.

State of play: Tuesday’s announcement comes ahead of a Week of Action protest planned by the project's opponents for March 4-11.

What they’re saying: Bryan Thomas, Dickens’ director of communications, told Axios that the task force was “prompted by the mayor’s continued commitment to transparency and engagement around the Training Center and surrounding green space.”

The other side: Kamau Franklin, founder of Community Movement Builders, which opposes the project, said he thinks "the city is engaging in a belated propaganda scheme to convince people that they care about their opinions."

  • Tiffany Roberts, director of the public policy unit at the Southern Center for Human Rights, told Axios in a statement that the new task force doesn’t align “with the already clearly expressed public sentiment about the harm that Cop City will cause.”
  • “We are at a critical moment where Atlantans need material investment of resources necessary to live full lives,” Roberts said. “Police training facilities will not make the people we serve healthier or happier.”

Catch up quick: DeKalb County in late January approved the land development permit for the complex, the opposition of which has become a national protest movement.

  • Criticism of the project grew louder in January after police shot and killed environmental activist Manuel Esteban Paez Terán during a “clearing operation” at the site.
  • State law enforcement says the trooper was returning fire at Terán.

What we’re watching: The city of Atlanta says the first batch of task force recommendations could come in July.


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