Updated Jul 27, 2023 - News

Judge grants "Stop Cop City" activists more time for referendum push

"Stop Cop City" sign placed at memorial to Manuel "Tortuguita" Teran at the site of the Atlanta public safety training center

Opponents of Atlanta's public safety training center will have more time to collect signatures to force the question on the ballot. Photo: Cheney Orr/Getty Images

A judge has given activists protesting the city's public safety training center an extra month to collect signatures to put the issue onto the ballot.

Driving the news: In a Thursday decision, a federal judge ruled in favor of four DeKalb citizens who argued that non-Atlanta residents should be allowed to collect signatures for the petition calling for a November referendum. (Only Atlanta residents are permitted to sign.)

  • The judge also reset the 60-day window activists have to collect signatures — giving them a new deadline of Sept. 25, said Brian Spears, an attorney representing the plaintiffs.
  • Valid signatures collected since June 21, the start of the original window, will still count, too.

Why it matters: The ruling gives activists more time to meet the uphill task of collecting 70,000 signatures of Atlantans registered to vote in 2021 — plus thousands more in case some are rejected during the vetting process.

  • Organizers reported earlier this week that they’ve collected more than 30,000 so far, according to the AJC.

What they’re saying: Spears told Axios they are "delighted" that the judge moved so quickly.

  • "It's a very time sensitive matter and we are looking forward to the petition process and the canvassing process to continue forward with our clients’ full participation," he said.

The other side: A city spokesperson said the city clerk has been made aware of the judge's ruling, and new petitions have already been sent to the advocates.

  • "The choice is simple," the statement reads. "We can either have the best-trained firefighters and police officers or we can decide to settle for sub-par training conditions in sub-par facilities."
  • The city also said its "comprehensive public safety plan" is working, as violent crime is down by 30% from last year.

Catch up quick: "Stop Cop City" organizers last month announced plans to launch a petition drive after the Council voted to allocate $31 million towards the $90 million project.

  • The campaign recently received a major financial boost from James "Fergie" Chambers, a member of the Cox family who posted last week on social media that he will donate $600,000 towards the referendum.

Editor's note: This story has been updated to include a statement from the city and the petition's new deadline.

Disclosure: Axios is owned by Cox Enterprises.


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