The Spark

the Voice of
The Communist League of Revolutionary Workers–Internationalist

“The emancipation of the working class will only be achieved by the working class itself.”
— Karl Marx

Georgia Cops Kill Activist

Feb 20, 2023

Police in Georgia shot and killed Manuel Esteban Paez Terán, an activist protesting the construction of a police training center some refer to as Cop City, near Atlanta on January 18. Environmental activists have been camping in the forest where Cop City is planned to be built since December, in an attempt to stop the project and prevent the forest’s destruction.

Residents of neighborhoods of Atlanta located closest to the planned construction site had also expressed opposition to the project. Community groups passed resolutions calling for the land’s "conservation in-perpetuity for passive greenspace, natural habitat restoration, and future public recreation uses." Yet the Atlanta City Council, with the support of the mayor, approved the plans for the police training facility.

On the day of Terán’s shooting, cops moved in to tear down 25 campsites and arrested seven activists. The cops claim Terán shot and injured a Georgia State Patrol officer, but no civilians apparently witnessed the shooting. Terán’s friends said they don’t believe the cops’ story and say he was a proponent of nonviolence.

Now the Atlanta Police Department released body camera footage which suggests that the officer who was shot was a victim of another cop’s bullet—"friendly fire.” An Atlanta cop is heard saying “Man ... you fucked your own officer up?"

Even before the killing of Terán, cops had charged some of the activists with felonies under Georgia’s “domestic terrorism” law, which was expanded in 2017 to include crimes against property. When protesters in Atlanta took to the streets to protest Terán’s killing, local cops arrested even more and charged them with domestic terrorism as well. Georgia Governor Brian Kemp went so far as to declare a state of emergency, giving him power to mobilize up to 1,000 National Guard troops to the streets of Atlanta.

In December and January, area cops charged 19 activists with domestic terrorism. Of those, 14 were among the forest defenders. Other than three who were alleged to have thrown rocks, none of the others were accused of anything more than trespassing.

On the day of Terán’s killing, two people were arrested and charged with trespassing for doing nothing more than walking along the river. They later were found to be what the cops referred to as "vagrants from New Orleans" and released.

Six of those arrested while protesting Terán’s killing in Atlanta were charged with domestic terrorism over damage to an Atlanta Police Foundation building and setting fire to a police car. One was charged for nothing more than carrying spray paint, a hammer, “torch fuel,” and a lighter.

While the forest defenders have been released on bond of $6,000 to $13,500, none of the street protesters have been released, with four denied bond altogether and two levied with a $355,000 bond.

More than likely, the domestic terrorism charges won’t stick for many of those charged. The cops and politicians are clearly using the law as a threat against anyone who might oppose them, and as a threat to dissent. The training center that activists refer to as “Cop City” is intended to come complete with mock city streets for cops to carry out riot training.

It’s clear from all this who the true domestic terrorists are—the cops and the state! Unfortunately, this is what American democracy looks like in 2023.