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Over 1300 Climate Justice Groups Call for an Independent Investigation into Police Murder of Forest Defender Manuel “Tortuguita” Paez Terán and for Mayor Dickens to Resign

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CONTACT: Ikiyacollective@proton.me

Over 1300 Climate Justice Groups Call for an Independent Investigation into Police Murder of Forest Defender Manuel “Tortuguita” Paez Terán and for Mayor Dickens to Resign 


(Atlanta, GA) Today, over 1,300 Climate Justice and racial justice groups from across the U.S. joined Atlanta residents and community organizations’ call for the immediate resignation of Mayor Andre Dickens in light of the police murder of a protestor, Manuel “Tortuguita” Paez Terán, by a joint task force, including the Atlanta Police Department, in Intrenchment Creek Park on Wednesday, January 18th, 2023. The sign-ons included People Vs. Fossil Fuels a coalition of over 1,200 climate justice groups fighting to protect the land and water in frontline communities across the U.S, the Abolitionist Teaching Network,First Existentialist Congregation of Atlanta -Social Justice Guild the Atlanta Justice Alliance, Jewish Voices for Peace , the Black Futurists Group, the BlackOUT Collective, The Ruckus Society, ikiyA Collective,Georgia Latino Alliance for Human Rights, Unitarian Universalist Association, the Palestinian Youth Movement, and many more as seen here.

“Over a week has passed since the murder of Terán, and Mayor Dickens has still failed to condemn the killing of the innocent 26-year-old by police, instead opting to condemn protestors and parrot the rhetoric of extreme right-wing governor, Brian Kemp.” the group’s letter read. “As a growing number of Atlanta residents, national and global news outlets, and human rights and environmental organizations worldwide call for an investigation of the police narrative of Tortugita’s death, Dickens has dismissed their concerns. He has refused to bring any scrutiny to the one-sided and unsubstantiated recounting of events. Dickens has yet to offer condolences to the slain protestor’s family.”

Tortuguita was murdered by police while protecing the Weelaunee forest from being torn down to build “Cop City” a proposed $90M Atlanta police training facility where police from across the country would be trained to stifle and silence protests in cities. Tortuguita, also known as “Tort,” was a trained medic, forest defender, coordinated mutual aid, and helped build housing in hurricane-impacted areas of Florida. 

“Cop City will impact organzing across the country, this is a national issue. Climate justice and police brutality are interconnected, which is why we are joining the Stop Cop City calls to action with the frontline communities in Atlanta.” said ikiyA collective a member of the People vs. Fossil Fuels steering committee. “It is imperative that we demand an independent investigation into the police murder of Manuel “Tortuguita” Paez Terán. Also, it is within Mayor Dickens and the Atlanta city council’s power to terminate the land lease for Cop City at Weelaunee Forest. We join calls for the termination of the lease and for Mayor Dickens’s resignation.”

When Atlanta Police murdered Rayshard Brooks in 2020, then-Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms accepted the resignation of APD Chief Erika Shields. In contrast, for the entirety of his term, Mayor Andre Dickens has refused to hear Atlanta residents’ growing call against the proposed police training facility known as Cop City. In fact, prior to becoming Mayor, Dickens voted to lease forest land to the Atlanta Police Foundation to build the unpopular police training facility. In a TV interview just days after Tortuguita’s death, Mayor Dickens attempted to paint the mass uprising of 2020 against police brutality as a call for more policing—a willful ignorance or manipulated retelling which shows Dickens is totally out of touch. Mayor Dickens has refused to come out against the domestic terrorism charges levied against peaceful protestors despite the American Civil Liberties Union and other legal experts warning against the baselessness of such charges. The use of these charges––clearly meant to chill free speech and intimidate supporters of the Stop Cop City movement––is increasing daily. Mayor Dickens has stood by as police violence and rhetoric towards protestors has steadily ratcheted up, including the use of chemical agents and militarized raids on small groups of protestors engaged in civil disobedience. Less than a month ago, Atlanta City Council members and activists rang the alarm about the dangers of escalated police violence after an aggressive raid on peaceful protestors on December 13th. Rather than use this as an opportunity to listen or reverse course, Dickens ignored the concerns of council members and his own constituents. Mayor Dickens’ lack of intervention in protecting Atlanta protestors and residents led directly to the fatal raid last week.

Dickens’ actions are occuring against the backdrop of the closure of one of the city’s two large vital hospitals, the Atlanta Medical Center, late last year. Dickens allowed Atlanta’s already completely overwhelmed hospital system to now operate with only one Level 1 Trauma center for the entire city. His championing of Cop City occurs against the backdrop of a continued investment in the gentrification of Atlanta and a continued disinvestment of affordable housing for a city identified as having the country’s highest level of wealth inequality. Mayor Dickens can somehow find $90 million dollars for cop city, one third of which will come from tax payer money. Still, he can’t find money to keep our already overwhelmed hospitals open or to finance much-needed affordable housing. Dickens claims to be representing the will of Atlantans in pushing forward with cop city, instead it seems he is heeding the calls of private philanthropy, the Atlanta Police Foundation, and a small and influential group of lobbyists who speak more for Buckhead than the vast majority of our city. The evidence is clear: we no longer have confidence in Dickens ability to govern the City of Atlanta. 

Andre Dickens must immediately terminate the lease of the Weelaunee Forest to the Atlanta Police Foundation and resign his post as Mayor. 

[to sign on, email: stopcopcityatl@gmail.com; list of signatories will be updated weekly]

7 Directions of Service

A World Without Police

Abolitionist Teaching Network

Atlanta Justice Alliance

Atlanta Radical Art

Beyond Extreme Energy

Black Futurists Group

BlackOUT Collective

Buford Highway People’s Hub

Bvlbancha Liberation Radio

Center for Third World Organizing

Center on Race, Poverty & the Environment

Climate Justice Alliance

Community Movement Builders

Demilitarize Atlanta 2 Palestine

EcoLogic

Endangered Species Coalition

First Existentialist Congregation of Atlanta – Social Justice Guild

Georgia Detention Watch

Georgia Human Rights Clinic

Georgia Latino Alliance for Human Rights

ikiyA collective

Indigenous Environmental Network

Indigenous Peoples Power Project, IP3

Jersey House Studio

Jewish Voices for Peace

Just Mathematics Collective

Mariposas Rebeldes

Mobile Homecoming

Movement Rights

NDN Collective

North American Indian Center of Boston

Nuclear Information and Resource Service

NW Yonkers for Black Lives Matter

Oil Change International

Our Rights DC

Palestinian Youth Movement

Pueblo Action Alliance

Showing Up For Racial Justice (SURJ)

Showing Up For Racial Justice, Boston

South Asian Fund For Education Scholarship and Training inc

Students for Justice in Palestine (University of Chicago)

The Ruckus Society

Treaty Walkers

Unitarian Universalist Association

Unitarian Universalist Mass Action

Unitarian Universalist Service Committee

Weelaunee Coalition

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