The ‘Stop Cop City’ Movement Is Bigger Than Atlanta Now

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Screenshots from the “Scenes From the Atlanta Forest” blog showing purported acts of vandalism b

On an anonymous online blog, a group of eco-anarchists claimed credit for smashing the glass doors of one of the companies contracted to build Atlanta’s so-called “Cop City” in late January and spray painting the building’s exterior with their slogans.

The blog, called “Scenes From the Atlanta Forest,” functions as a virtual bulletin board for the “Stop Cop City” movement, a group of environmentalists and anti-police activists—or “forest defenders”—who oppose plans to build a police training facility in Atlanta forestlands because they say it’ll decimate the ecosystem and further militarize police. 

In this particular post, activists uploaded photos of their purported handiwork: the exterior of an Atlas Technical Consultants building in Manhattan boarded up with caution tape around it. They say that they targeted Atlas specifically because of its relationship to “Cop City.”  

“It looks like Atlas received a visit from some disgruntled little forest bunnies,” they wrote online in neon green text. “Atlas isn’t safe even in the center of the so-called police state of NYC. They aren’t safe anywhere. We do this so comrades everywhere feel empowered to act with swiftness, creativity, and freedom.”

That relatively minor act of property damage was just one of dozens of instances of vandalism or sabotage that eco-anarchists have taken credit for, via blog posts, on behalf of the Stop Cop City movement, since last May. VICE News reviewed archives on “Scenes from the Atlanta Forest” (which anyone can post to, though some editorial oversight exists) and found more than 60 posts over the last nine months where anonymous activists took responsibility for incidents in 19 states because of the targets’ relationship to Cop City or to the Atlanta Police Foundation, which is funding the police training facility project. 

“We do this so comrades everywhere feel empowered to act with swiftness, creativity, and freedom.”

VICE News couldn’t independently verify many of the incidents. But the purported acts of sabotage—or solidarity in the minds of the forest defenders—are a sign that the Stop Cop City movement is resonating with eco-anarchists and other activists well beyond Atlanta. The protesters, who have been camping in treehouses by the site of the proposed facility since 2021, have awoken a network of sympathizers who are prepared to smash windows, slash tires, and destroy ATMs using superglue—or at least claim they have—all in the name of the forest defenders. 

The incidents have also occurred with increasing frequency since January, when police killed environmental activist Manuel Esteban Paez Terán, also known as Tortuguita or “Tort,” while clearing a protest encampment in the forest. (An independent autopsy found that multiple officers shot them at least 14 times, including in the face, while they were sitting cross-legged on the ground with their hands raised).

In addition to Atlas, eco-anarchists have claimed to target Bank of America, Wells Fargo, Amazon, and even Porsche. But Atlas has by far been the most frequent.  

VICE News counted purported attacks on Atlas properties in 15 different cities since last May. Activists have even said they doxxed Atlas employees or showed up to menace executives at their homes. In some cases, they claimed to have targeted an Atlas office more than once. 

Last May, a seemingly lone activist shared a photo of their handiwork at an Atlas office in Highland, Indiana—big black spray painted letters that read “SRY” (sorry)—with the caption “Keep up the Good Fight.” 

In late January, activists claimed they hit the same Highland office again and caused significantly more damage this time around: They said they smashed windows, glass doors, “attacked the interior with a powerful stink bomb,” and vandalized six Atlas vehicles parked outside. 

“Until the murder of Tortuguita, no cop or contractor was injured as a result of actions in defense of the Weelaunee Forest,” they wrote online. “Now, the rules of engagement may have to change.” 

Atlas declined to comment when VICE News reached out.

In Michigan, the acts are personal: Activists there have drawn parallels between Cop City and plans to expand Camp Grayling, a National Guard training center, on 162,000 acres of state forest that has attracted criticism from environmental groups. In October, activists claimed to have vandalized police cars from three different Michigan police departments. 

“We’re facing our own cop city proposal in the form of a proposed expansion of Camp Grayling,” they wrote on the forest defenders’ blog. “We will not allow the police to destroy forests in the name of expanding their powers of oppression!”

VICE news counted five instances where activists claimed responsibility for attacking property belonging to construction company Brasfield & Gorrie, which is also contracted to build “Cop City,” or intimidating people who work there. Last May, activists claimed to have smashed windows and glass doors and spray painted the exterior of the company’s headquarters in Birmingham, Alabama. 

“Let it serve as a warning to the executives at Brasfield & Gorrie; we know where you work and we know where you sleep, your houses could be next,” they wrote online. 

In January, they said they targeted Brasfield & Gorrie offices in Miami, as well as a nearby construction site. Then, last month, they visited the home of the company’s vice president and division manager, at 1 a.m.

Last month, eco-anarchists posted on the blog that they’d halted train traffic on a rail line north of Philadelphia belonging to Norfolk Southern by laying copper wire over the tracks and tripping the signal. They said they targeted the company because it previously donated $100,000 to the Atlanta Police Foundation, and because they were seeking revenge for the derailment of one of its freight trains in East Palestine, which spilled toxic chemicals into the surrounding ecosystem. 

“Perhaps [Norfolk Southern] funds Cop City because they understand how crucial they are in building a dead world and exactly how vulnerable they are,” the saboteurs wrote. Activists previously claimed, via the blog, that they set a Norfolk Southern excavator on fire, near tracks in the Atlanta area, last November. 

But a spokesperson for Norfolk Southern said they’d never heard of that incident and told VICE news that the company experienced no service disruptions in that area. 

Because the claims are made anonymously and the decentralized nature of the Stop Cop City movement, it’s unclear whether this act of sabotage happened at all—raising questions about some of the other claims made via the blog, especially those not accompanied by photographic evidence. 

But bluffing or not, the fact that eco-anarchists are laying claim to that kind of sabotage is symbolic in itself, and the growing number of claims come amid deepening anger within the Cop City movement. 

People aren’t just angry about the proposed training facility, or the killing of Tortuguita, who has become a martyr for the cause, anymore. They’re angry about how the investigation into their death is being handled. They’re angry about police crackdowns on the “Stop Cop City” encampments, the fact that 41 activists have been charged with domestic terrorism under Georgia’s state law, and that at least half of those individuals held without bond. And they’re angry about what they see as profiteering from environmental degradation and police militarization. 

“Obviously the woods are home to all of our hearts and are a good place to make a disturbance, but don’t forget that shennanagins [sic] can happen all over the place,” someone wrote in a recent post. “Fuck every last motherfucker profiting off the murder of Tortuguita.”

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