FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact: Jose Servin, email@example.com
In Solidarity with the Mutual Aid Organizers from the Atlanta Solidarity Fund Arrested in an Act of Political Repression
The latest in a series of violent acts demonstrates alarming use of police-state tactics as a reaction to repress democratic protests
Atlanta, GA (June 6, 2023) –
Dear FFJ community,
We stand in solidarity with the three members from the Atlanta Solidarity Fund, a charitable, mutual aid organization that provides support for activists who are arrested, that were themselves arrested last week by the Georgia Bureau of Investigations in a targeted raid with members of the media present. These community members, who have now been released thanks to an outpour of support from across the country, were publicly shamed by law enforcement for supporting mutual aid efforts, a practice with deep roots in American history that is essential for people in this country who need crowdfunded support for everything from medical expenses, to navigating a legal system that predicates guilt based on wealth.
This condemnable act of political repression sets the dangerous precedent that law enforcement agencies like the Georgia Bureau of Investigations, the associations that promote them and leverage political power at all levels of government, and the political actors, like Attorney General Christopher Carl, that collaborate with them, can target and deprive of their rights any group or individual attempting to provide financial assistance to another person. Labeling crowdfunding efforts as anything other than communal support is only the latest blatant attempt by the powerful supporters of #CopCity, the massive $90 million police training facility designed to train police in ‘urban warfare’ tactics, to push through a widely unpopular, destructive project.
In the past year, plans to break ground on the controversial #CopCity have been hindered thanks to overwhelming opposition and the local-led efforts of forest defenders who recognize that the proposed location for the facility is unceded Muskogee territory and vital forest land often referred to as the ‘lungs of Atlanta.’
Lorraine Ramirez, Executive Director of Funders For Justice, a national network and organizing platform for grantmakers, donor networks, and funder affinity groups increasing resources to BIPOC grassroots organizations working at the intersections of racial justice, gender justice, ending criminalization, and building models for community safety & justice, stated:
“The unchecked power of local police empowered by unscrupulous political actors in Georgia embodies all of the alarming signs of rising authoritarianism. These police state tactics to arrest community members, separate families, and discredit mutual aid efforts are a reaction to a growing movement for justice and accountability from police. This is the moment for those who have been in this long fight to affirm their beliefs in community justice, and for the philanthropic sector to rally our collective power against acts of clear political repression. We call on all individuals who believe in true democracy, due process, and civil rights to take action and condemn these fascist tactics. No cage can contain the will of the people.”
These arrests were the latest in a series of violent actions taken by Georgia police to quell political opposition:
- Manuel “Tortuguita” Esteban Paen Terán, shot by police 52 times while sitting cross-legged with their arms raised during a raid of a protest encampment in the forest by the Atlanta Police Department, the Georgia State Patrol and Georgia Bureau of Investigation, and the Federal Bureau of Investigation and Department of Homeland Security.
- 3 members of the Atlanta Solidarity Fund were charged with financial offenses carrying penalties of up to 20 years in prison and up to $500 thousand dollars in fines following a raid of the bail fund’s offices in which laptops, cellphones, and documents were seized.
- 42 people have now been charged under the state domestic terrorism law, which carries a mandatory minimum prison term of 5 years. These individuals are facing up to 35 years in prison if convicted;
- 23 protesters arrested in early March during a music festival were originally denied bail. Thanks to organizing efforts, 20 have since been released, but 2 remain behind bars indefinitely in the DeKalb County Jail, and are being denied medication and medical care. Two individuals arrested during the December and January arrests are still being held by Fulton County as well.
Our Call To Action: We urge funders to rally in support of the Atlanta Solidarity Fund and to fund the organizers on the ground in Georgia that continue to rise up against state violence. This is a historical moment to take a bold stance against these egregious intrusions on the ability of those who fight for justice to create long-term change.
Sounding the Alarm: It is imperative that we continue to fund organizers and bail funds in order to sustain the infrastructure necessary to build movements. This means more funding, funding more boldly, and recognizing that attacks like this one are attempts to silent and stop movements. We have seen tactics such as these used repeatedly from Phoenix, to Florida, and now Atlanta. Police officers and unions continue to work together across the country to push the envelope for political control and power – we can not allow this to become the norm.
Invest/Divest Now: #CopCity is a reactionary response from those in power to stifle the growing movement across the country to demand accountability and oversight from law enforcement agencies with bloated budgets.This $90 million dollar destructive project does nothing to benefit the local community, and instead will train police across the country to further oppress working class folks – mostly Black people. We must continue to fund a vision of the future where we fund youth programs, health services, education, and other essential services to the community instead of irresponsible, destructive police projects.
Where To Donate:
Support the Bail Fund Supporting Local Efforts: Community Justice Exchange – National Bail Fund Network
Support the organizers on the ground: Community Movement Builders
Support local small press that is covering these issues and breaking stories: Atlanta Community Press Collective