ATLANTA — Georgia State Patrol cops shot and killed Manuel Teran as they cleared out an encampment in Intrenchment Creek Park in Dekalb County Jan. 18.
Teran was part of a group of middle-class radicals and anarchists attempting to block the building of a training center for police and firefighters. Cops say they shot Teran after he opened fire on them without warning. Participants in the occupation dispute this. A state trooper was shot during the incident and is in a hospital.
The cop killing follows a Dec. 13 raid by the Georgia Bureau of Investigation, Atlanta Police Department, FBI and other cop agencies, using pepper balls and tear gas to dislodge several of those living in makeshift tree houses for several months. Calling themselves Defend the Atlanta Forest, the group of a few dozen set up an encampment to prevent the use of 85 acres of the forest for the police center. Some 265 acres will remain a public park. Alongside claims they were protecting the environment, the group echoed calls by middle-class radicals and some on the left of the Democratic Party for “abolishing” the cops.
The organization’s actions provided the cops with a pretext to carry out their deadly assault. Individuals associated with the encampment took credit for vandalizing the homes and offices of contractors hired to clear the property, trying to pressure them to not accept or complete their work. Construction machinery was destroyed or sabotaged. Contractors and police were chased off with rocks and Molotov cocktails.
Following the Dec. 13 cop raid on the camp, six people were arrested and charged under draconian “domestic terrorism” laws and face sentences of up to 35 years. They were jailed without bond for a couple weeks. Seven further members of the group were arrested Jan. 18 on the same charges.
More arrests followed in Atlanta Jan. 21, with antifa members vandalizing properties and a police vehicle. Those orchestrating these attacks hand the cops an excuse to deal further blows to constitutional rights.
Under the pretext of combating an alleged resurgence in “domestic terrorism,” federal and state governments are expanding the use of cop and spy agencies, setting the stage for more deadly operations by the political police and further attacks on hard-won constitutional freedoms.
Chris Bruce, policy director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Georgia, condemned the use of domestic terrorism charges. Georgia’s law, he says, gives agencies “broad, far-reaching limitations that restrict public dissent of the government and criminalizes violators with severe and excessive penalties.” Adopted in 2017, the legislation defines domestic terrorism as any felony meant to “intimidate the civilian population” or “change or coerce the policy of the government.”
President Joseph Biden boasted Sept. 15 that he developed the “first-ever national strategy for countering domestic terrorism.” The new U.S. budget allocated $11.3 billion for the FBI, tasked with targeting so-called domestic terrorists.
The arrests and deadly cop assault here will be used to justify the expanding use of the rulers’ political police and its targeting of unionists, fighters for Black rights, opponents of Washington’s wars and working-class parties like the Socialist Workers Party.