Beginning in late 2021 activist have been occupying a section of Georgia’s South River Forest to resist the construction of a $90 million state-of-the art police training facility protesters have dubbed "Cop City". The facility will be developed on 85-acres of land which is an area of green space that the city of Atlanta has described as one of it's four "lungs". The future of the forest is up in the air as both police and protestors refuse to back down.
During a January 2023 law enforcement raid on protest encampments a trooper was shot in the leg and a protester, Manuel Terán, known also as "Tortuguita", was killed by police. Police claim Tortuguita opened fire on the officers but their family and activist dispute this claim, citing released body camera footage in which an officer suggests the trooper may have been injured by friendly fire as well as a second autopsy that reveals that Tortuguita’s hands were raised when they were killed.
Following acts of vandalism and destruction of property, dozens of activists have been arrested and are being charged with domestic terrorism. This is the first time that state law has been used in this way and the outcomes of these charges will set the precedent for handling similar cases in the future.
Photography and reporting for Reuters. Additional photography for Agence France-Presse and The New York Post