Atlanta, Georgia – Across the US, people held vigils to mourn the police murder of forest defender, Manuel Teran, 26, also known as Tortuguita, on Wednesday, January 18th and to rally in solidarity with the struggle against the destruction of the Weelaunee forest and the construction of the counter-insurgency training facility known as “Cop City.” As Unicorn Riot wrote:
A protester was shot and killed by police Wednesday morning, January 18, in the midst of a multi-jurisdictional raid on the Atlanta Forest, also known as the Weelaunee Forest, in DeKalb County, southeast of Atlanta.
The identity of the protester is currently unknown. A Georgia State Trooper was reportedly also shot during the raid and is currently undergoing surgery at Grady Memorial Hospital, according to police. At least three other protesters were reportedly arrested during the raid and were charged with “aggravated assault on a public safety officer” and “domestic terrorism.”
A forest defender, who was present during the raid and spoke with Unicorn Riot under conditions of anonymity, reported hearing 10-12 gunshots all at once followed by a loud boom.
The Georgia Bureau of Investigation, which is leading the investigation into the incident, said that the killing occurred after police were fired on by the protester. Protesters, however, have questioned this narrative, “calling on legal observers and journalists” to launch an independent investigation of the incident.
“Since June 6, 2022, activists and community members fighting to Defend the Atlanta Forest and Stop Cop City have been demanding that officers stop bringing weapons into the forest after APD pointed their weapons at peaceful protestors,” said the Atlanta Community Press Collective in a press release.
As the New York Times reported:
Activists with the Defend the Atlanta Forest effort have challenged the official account and argued that no activists fired upon officers. The Atlanta Solidarity Fund, an organization providing legal support to activists, said it was planning to pursue “a vigorous legal strategy” to examine the circumstances surrounding the protester’s death. “We are committed to finding out what actually happened,” said Marlon Kautz, an organizer with the Solidarity Fund.
Critics said the [Cop City] project would disturb an expanse of green space and disrupt the community around it. “People don’t want gunfire and bomb detonations to be the soundtrack of their neighborhood,” Bentley Hudgins, a local organizer who lives nearby, said while attending a vigil for the protester on Wednesday.
At the time of this writing, despite predictable claims by law enforcement that they were fired upon and responded in kind out of self-defense, police have yet to produce video evidence. As one local news report wrote:
Activists have questioned the police version of events and called for the release of law enforcement body camera footage. However, GBI public affairs director Nelly Miles informed WABE Thursday evening that there is no body camera footage of the incident.
Another report from Rolling Stone stated:
DAF activists were instantly critical of the GBI’s account, claiming there was “reason to believe” the officer was hit by friendly fire, not shot by the protester, pointing to reports by other forest defenders who heard one burst of gunshots not consistent with an exchange of fire. The Atlanta Solidarity Fund, a nonprofit organization that provides arrested activists with bail money, jail support, and access to legal representation, wrote in a statement that it was “preparing a legal team to investigate and pursue a wrongful death suit.”
“Georgia State Police has not released body camera footage or meaningful details, and we are concerned a police cover-up could be underway,” the Atlanta Solidarity Fund wrote.
“We know that Georgia Police regularly and consistently lie about the conditions under which they shoot and kill people, and that the ‘facts’ will frequently change to justify police action, no matter how murderous or egregious,” DAF said in a Twitter DM. “No matter what they do, police will always claim to be the actual victims.”
Since the police murder of Tortuguita, there have been vigils, marches, banner drops and rallies in solidarity, with more events planned over the coming days. Below you will find a roundup of expressions of solidarity with the ongoing struggle in Atlanta and a list of upcoming events. This post will be updated, so check back and email us at info [at] itsgoingdown [dot] org if we missed anything.
Roundup of Solidarity
Olympia, WA: People held a vigil and rally with banners at a local park on January 18th.
Portland, OR: Vigils organized with banners and signs on January 18th.
Eugene, OR: Vigil with banners organized on January 20th.
Boise, ID: Vigil with banners organized on January 20th.
Arcata, CA: Vigil organized in solidarity on January 21st.
Oakland, CA: People gathered for a vigil event with flags, banners, and literature on January 19th. Direct action targets Bank of America on January 20th.
Berkeley, CA: Vigil organized at People’s Park on January 20th.
Sacramento, CA: Graffiti written in solidarity.
Los Angeles, CA: Vigil gathers with banners on January 18th.
Tucson, AZ: Banners dropped in solidarity.
Boulder, CO: Rally at Wells Fargo to demand divestment from Cop City project.
Austin, TX: Large vigil organized in solidarity on January 21st.
Lincoln, NB: Vigil organized on January 20th.
Chicago, IL: Rally and vigil held on January 20th.
Minneapolis, MN: Banner dropped on January 18th and on January 20th, a vigil was organized with speakers and banners. Large march takes place on 21st.
Ypsilanti, MI: Vigil organized on January 20th.
Pontiac, MI: Vigil organized on January 20th.
Knoxville, TN: Graffiti written in solidarity.
Nashville, TN: Vigil organized on January 21st.
St. Louis, MI: Vigil organized in solidarity on January 21st.
Savannah, GA: Vigil organized on January 18th.
Atlanta, GA: Vigil turns into rally downtown and then takes to the streets on January 18th. On January 20th, a vigil is also organized at People’s Park in the Weelaunee forest. Militant march takes to streets on January 21st.
South Carolina: Vigil organized on a campus on January 18th.
Charlotte, NC: Vigil organized on January 20th.
Asheville, NC: Vigil organized on January 19th.
Tampa, FL: Vigil organized in solidarity on January 21st.
Washington DC: Banner drop in solidarity.
Richmond, VA: Vigil organized in solidarity on January 21st.
Philadelphia, PA: Vigil organized on January 21st.
Boston, MA: Banners dropped in solidarity.
Lowell, MA: Vigil organized in solidarity.
New Jersey: Graffiti mural in solidarity on January 20th.
Brooklyn, NY: Vigil organized on January 20th.
New York City, NY: Vigil organized on January 18th and rally on January 20th and 21st.
Providence, RI: Graffiti written in solidarity with Tortuguita.
Friday, January 20th:
Tuesday, January 24th: