Day by day, the ideas that define a dystopian society slyly creep their way into reality. Whether it is the constant surveillance at the hands of intelligence agencies or the abandonment of millions of people systemically left behind, the images associated with our society today can scare even the most cynical writers. One recent development grabbing headlines during the past few days is the building of a “Cop City” near the jewel of the South, Atlanta. The police killing of Tortuguita, a protester and environmental activist, is the latest transgression at the hands of the Atlanta police and its Cop City investors, but the forming of this project, with the help of financial elites, is what drew attention to the site in the first place.
Kamau Franklin, an attorney, civil rights activist and founder of Community Movement Builders, sits down with Robert Scheer in this episode of Scheer Intelligence to discuss the current state of affairs in Atlanta and specifically, Cop City. Franklin breaks down the underpinnings of a society that allows for projects like this to move forward while there are still people living in the street, neighborhoods gutted of resources and a justice system built to shoot first and ask questions later.
“Atlanta used to be a 60% Black city,” Franklin explains, but now that number has dwindled to 49%, and the rise in gentrification along with the destruction of public housing enables these kinds of stats. Despite the makeup of Atlanta’s major political institutions often having Black representation, Franklin says, “Having someone who looks like you in a place of power is never enough, particularly if that person doesn't share ideological or other political interests with you. They are far more connected to serving a certain class of elites.”
When it comes to the creation of Cop City—and the recent unjust crackdown on protesters—Franklin reveals the insidious nature of funding and political loopholes that exist in order to make the project work. “It's extremely important that people realize… These police foundations are taking off across the country. They're not accountable to public officials because they are private corporations, private nonprofits. They get resources from corporations. Here, the Cop City endeavor is going to cost at least $90 million. $60 million of that has been raised through private donations through corporations. $30 million is from the city itself.”