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The Arrest of ‘Stop Cop City’ Bail Fund Organizers Should Raise Alarm Bells

Protesters carry signs through a forest, including one that says "Stop Cop City" in a Coca Cola font.

For almost two years, a battle has raged over the fate of South River Forest in Atlanta, GA. The city of Atlanta is pushing hard to turn 85 acres of the forest into a police training ground that local residents call Cop City, where police would practice using tear gas, detonating bombs, and participating in high speed chases. Activists in Atlanta have launched a movement called Stop Cop City, and now, three of those organizers have been arrested for alleged money laundering.

Except the “money laundering” was actually a bail fund for activists who were arrested for protesting Cop City.

The arrests came early last Wednesday, when police raided a community center called the Teardown House, located in a majority Black neighborhood. Marlon Kautz, Adele Maclean, and Savannah Patterson, the three activists who run the bail fund for Cop City protesters, were all arrested for charity fraud and money laundering. The charges were so preposterous that even the judge presiding over the activists’ bail hearing announced that he didn’t find them “very impressive.”

The cops in Atlanta are clearly trying to terrorize protesters into submission, stamping out resistance to Cop City by any means necessary. Cops are hardly on their own in this effort, though. The Atlanta City Council has been pushing Cop City forward despite massive public outcry. In September 2021, when the project was first proposed, Atlanta residents provided 17 hours of overwhelmingly negative public comment—and the city still approved the ordinance. Now, earlier this week, the City Council held a vote to provide the project with an additional $30 million of city funds. Again, there was massive public outcry, lasting 15 hours. Again, the Council ignored the will of its own residents.

Why is Cop City so frightening?

Cops and their supporters have made it clear that their goal is a militarized police state. They’re willing to terrorize protesters with trumped-up charges. They’re willing to kill protesters who get in their way. The goal of police departments like Atlanta’s is to squelch thriving communities under a violent military occupation.

To understand Cop City, and the willingness of police to accuse bail fund organizers of something as extreme as money laundering, you need to place it within the context of white supremacy. The entire Black Lives Matter movement arose because of cops’ extremist violence against Black communities, like the neighborhood adjacent to South River Forest. The close ties between police departments and white supremacist groups is well-documented.

Razing forests is horrific enough, considering the devastating effects of climate change. To destroy a forest in order to build a militarized police training ground—so that they can learn tactics they’ll certainly use against Black communities—is unconscionable.

(featured image: Andrew Lichtenstein/Corbis via Getty Images)

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Julia Glassman (she/her) holds an MFA from the Iowa Writers' Workshop, and has been covering feminism and media since 2007. As a staff writer for The Mary Sue, Julia covers Marvel movies, folk horror, sci fi and fantasy, film and TV, comics, and all things witchy. Under the pen name Asa West, she's the author of the popular zine 'Five Principles of Green Witchcraft' (Gods & Radicals Press). You can check out more of her writing at