Stop Cop City Statement
The 2021-2022 SPA Board opposes the processes and proposed development regarding the City of Atlanta Cop City proposal. Read our full statement below and learn more about how you can take action.
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August 27, 2021
To: Our Metro Atlanta community, fellow Georgia planners, and any other concerned parties
From: Georgia Tech Student Planning Association (SPA) 2021-2022 Board
On August 16, 2021, the City Council of Atlanta tabled their vote to lease the land including and surrounding the Old Atlanta Prison Farm in DeKalb County. This lease agreement between the City and the Atlanta Police Foundation (APF) would allow construction of a new, 131-acre police training facility. As future planners in the City of Atlanta, we are voicing our opposition to the proposed training facility. We have concerns with the way that Council has treated the decision-making process for approving this lease. We also oppose the proposed land use for this site.
As planners, we must commit to democratic decision-making processes and future development that is beneficial to the residents and neighbors of the City of Atlanta. Council and APF, by insisting on urgent action, have shirked their responsibilities to meaningful public outreach. They have boxed out stakeholders with a legitimate claim to having their voices heard, including Atlanta and DeKalb County residents, local environmental advocates, community safety experts, planners, historians and more. Furthermore, the site is historically, socially, and environmentally sensitive, and the proposed development would be an irresponsible and inequitable stewardship of the land. As planners, our work contributes to the values and direction of cities and regions for decades to come. For this reason, we take issue with the proposed legislation, as it will both perpetuate and exacerbate social and environmental injustices.
Until the late 1980s, the site was used as a prison farm, which served as a means to imprison predominantly Black men and force them into agricultural work without pay. The new development would continue this history, pumping resources into a demonstratively harmful form of violent policing that disproportionately targets communities of color. Using this site as a police training facility will recreate - rather than repair - its problematic legacy.
From an environmental perspective, we must note that the site is currently one of the largest undeveloped forests in the Atlanta area. The proposed training facility would raze at least 85-acres of land and would include munitions and chemical testing on-site. This development and future training activities could further pollute the South River, which is already recognized as one of the most compromised in the country. Furthermore, the location of the proposed facility in southwest DeKalb County perpetuates a legacy of environmental racism against communities of color in our city. Because the facility is not in the City of Atlanta, these communities are completely disenfranchised from meaningfully weighing in on the development, yet they will bear most of the social, economic, and environmental consequences of the project.
We, as planners, are responsible for envisioning a different future, not one based on fear or repression, but one that strives to be more democratic and just. We imagine the site as a public, historical park that acknowledges the legacy of the site and retains and expands its recreational and environmental value, similar to the North Carolina Museum of Art Park. Our vision is for city resources, including land, to be used on developments that truly enhance communities and keep them safer. Opposing the proposed lease to APF is only the first step towards this vision.
Student Planning Association 2021-2022 Board
Want to take action?
The next vote on the APF lease is September 7th. Please let your voices be heard by contacting your city council representative by email or phone.
Felicia A. Moore : email@example.com; (404)330-6052
Carla Smith: firstname.lastname@example.org; (404) 330-6039
Amir R. Farokhi: email@example.com; (404) 330-6038
Antonio Brown: firstname.lastname@example.org; (404) 330-6046
Cleta Winslow: email@example.com; (404) 330-6047
Natalyn Mosby Archibong: firstname.lastname@example.org; (404) 330-6048
Jennifer N. Ide: email@example.com; (404) 330-6049
Howard Shook: firstname.lastname@example.org; (404) 330-6050
J.P. Matzigkeit: email@example.com; (404) 330-6051
Dustin Hillis: firstname.lastname@example.org; (404) 330-6044
Andrea L. Boone: email@example.com; (404) 330-6055
Marci Collier Overstreet: firstname.lastname@example.org; (404) 330-6054
Joyce Sheperd: email@example.com; (404) 330-6053
Michael Julian Bond: firstname.lastname@example.org(404) 330-6770
Matt Westmoreland: email@example.com; (404) 330-6302
Andre Dickens: firstname.lastname@example.org; (404) 330-6041