January 19, 2023
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Today's newsletter is 926 words — a 3.5-minute read.
1 big thing: What's next for Cop City?
A yearlong standoff between law enforcement and activists protesting Atlanta's public safety training center boiled over into a fatal clash yesterday, leaving residents, city officials and activists to ask what's next.
Driving the news: One protester is dead and a Georgia state trooper is recovering at Grady Memorial Hospital after a shooting near the future site of the proposed $90 million complex dubbed "Cop City" by opponents.
- The Georgia Bureau of Investigation is investigating the shooting.
Why it matters: The shooting has ratcheted up the tension in what's now a violent conflict in deeply forested land outside the view of most media and the public.
What's happening: It's unclear whether activists and encampments will continue to occupy the woods and, if so, whether the violence has emboldened either side to step up their tactics or stand down.
- Defend the Forest activists told Axios in a statement that their campaign not only includes encampments but street protests, fundraisers, watchdog journalism, legal advocacy, pressuring investors and community meetings.
- Solidarity vigils are also planned for this week in other cities.
- "No one can speak for what all the many groups involved in the movement will do, but so far all the police violence the movement has faced has only multiplied the many strategies and tactics that different coalitions organize," they said.
The big picture: Consistent dueling narratives from the activists and law enforcement have made figuring out what’s happening in the woods a difficult task.
Catch up quick: GBI Director Mike Register said an individual "confronted law enforcement" and shot the trooper during a "clearing operation" to remove the protesters "illegally occupying the property."
- Officers returned fire, killing the alleged shooter, who has not yet been identified. The trooper, whose name was also not released, underwent surgery and was hospitalized in stable condition.
The other side: According to a statement released by the Atlanta Community Press Collective, which supports the resistance effort, "dozens of heavily armed officers" entered the forest "with guns drawn and heavy machinery poised to continue forest destruction.”
What we're watching: Register said that four other people were detained yesterday and charges could be forthcoming.
- Five activists were charged with domestic terrorism in a crackdown at the site last month.
Editor's note: Cox Enterprises chairman and CEO Alex Taylor, a former chair of the Atlanta Committee for Progress, led a campaign to raise private funds for the project. Cox owns Axios.
2. ⚽️ Goodbye, Josef
Atlanta United yesterday announced that Josef Martínez, the star forward who scored 111 goals in six seasons and at one point seemed content to end his playing days here, was leaving to join Inter Miami.
Why it matters: Nicknamed "El Rey" (The King), Martínez was practically royalty here for his lethal scoring ability, dedication to the team and swagger that launched him onto billboards and magazine covers.
Details: The 29-year-old Venezuelan joined Atlanta United for its inaugural season in 2017 from Italian club Torino, kicking off a trophy-filled career here that included the 2018 MLS Cup. That same year he was named the MLS MVP.
- A torn ACL sidelined him for most of the 2020 season. Knee surgery — along with a strained relationship with new coach Gonzalo Pineda — kept him off the field for part of this past season.
What they're saying: "Emotions are emotions, after being in a place so long, so many special moments that we lived together, that is what was most difficult for me in leaving Atlanta and what I will remember more than the negative times and my injuries," Martínez told the Miami Herald.
3. ATL's booze-less bottle shop
You now have a place to buy all the ingredients to concoct some zero-proof potions at home and save some cash.
Driving the news: The Zero Co., Atlanta’s first shop dedicated to non-alcoholic spirits, wines, beers and other drinks, is now open in Poncey-Highland.
Details: Husband and wife team Cory and Malory Atkinson, who opened the boutique wine shop Elemental Spirits Co. next to Manuel's in 2020, partnered with the distributor Zero Proof Co. to open the store in late December.
Pro tip: A good start to your at-home minibar of non-alcoholic spirits is the ISH Portfolio, which includes zero-proof versions (hence the "-ish") of gin, rum and tequila, Zero Co. general manager Rori Robinson told Axios.
4. ATL tops TSA list of firearm discoveries
Passengers at the Atlanta airport just can't seem to remember the golden rule of air travel: Safely pack your gun in checked baggage.
- Or leave your shooting irons at home.
Driving the news: Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport was the top city for firearm discoveries in 2022, per the U.S. Transportation Security Administration.
By the numbers: 448 guns were found at ATL security checkpoints in 2022 — which is actually down from 2021's record-setting 507 guns.
- Nationally, 88% of the 6,542 firearms discovered in carry-on bags last year were loaded.
Bottom line: The only thing worse than a person who's holding up screening lines at the airport is a person creating a mini-emergency because they left a loaded gun in their backpack.
- Don't be that person.
A new career is waiting for you
5. Five-ish Points: Place your bets
- A staffer for Herschel Walker's unsuccessful Senate bid is suing conservative bigwig Matt Schlapp for allegedly sexually assaulting him during the campaign. (Axios)
- Three flight attendants were hospitalized after a woman reportedly sprayed a fire extinguisher at them and police inside Hartsfield-Jackson. (11 Alive)
- A former Georgia Supreme Court justice says he thinks online sports betting could be legalized in Georgia without amending the state Constitution. (AJC)
- The Decatur City Commission gave the initial OK to a proposal allowing "missing middle" housing like duplexes and smaller-scale multi-family developments in single-family residential zoning districts. (Decaturish)
🔎 Emma recommends this job covering Liberty County for The Current GA to any hopeful Georgia investigative journalist doing it.
📚 Kristal is enjoying Prince Harry's Spare. Is anyone else reading it?
This newsletter was edited by Jen Ashley and copy edited by Alex Perry.