ATLANTA - Atlanta City Council heard, loud and clear, the testimony of four people who got early speaking slots on Monday morning and who sought city spending $67 million on a police training facility known as Cop City. Council voted 11-4 early Tuesday to continue with the project.
Council members willfully ignored the 350+ speakers who stayed past 2 a.m. Tuesday to testify against the center that would teach urban pacification tactics - a euphemism for militarized policing. It will be built on environmentally fragile land at the former site of the notorious Atlanta Prison Farm.
“This kind of thing right here is why I oppose giving the government any power at all,” says Chase Oliver, presidential hopeful and Atlanta resident, who stood in line to speak since 9:30 a.m. to testify against Cop City. “Once they attain power, elected officials become deaf to the cries of their constituents and only respond to the corporate dollar.”
Every day people began testifying in 2-minute increments, starting at 11 a.m. Monday, June 6, at Atlanta City Hall. They spoke until after 2 a.m. Tuesday, some ceding their time to others. Waiting in lines that spanned up the block, 357 people signed up to speak prior to the start of the meeting, and many more waited to speak after the cutoff.
Some focused on the environmental fragility of clear-cutting the South River Forest, called the lungs of Atlanta. Others spoke on the broken promise to keep a park as a sort of penance to the mistreatment of prisoners at the shuttered Atlanta Prison Farm. Many focused on the cruelty of urban policing, including the killing of protester Manuel “Teran” Tortuguita in a disputed police shooting on Jan. 18 at the site.
Oliver brought the fire at Monday’s testimony, drawing cheers and applause from the audience:
“You might as well get your 20 pieces of silver because right now, you’re committing a Judas act against the people of Atlanta. I’m sorry that there was no invocation today because it’s Monday, but I’m about to take you to church.”
“Your job is to represent the people. And when you don’t do that, you’re failing and you’re a failure. Anyone who supports this is a failure, you deserve a challenge the next election.”
“I will fight like hell to make sure that each and every one of you is replaced. I will find somebody that’s good to support the city of Atlanta, who will actually represent people and not the government, and not the corporate stooges who fund you.”
As a Libertarian, Oliver vowed to use his influence outside of the two-party system to bring that next failure on Election Day to the mayor and all council members who won’t vote to stop Cop City.
Oliver, who has lived in and around Atlanta for almost his entire life, challenged government officials’ criticism that outsiders were stirring up opposition to the project.
“When you say it’s we’re out of towners, that's a lie,” he said in testimony. “Because the truth is, the people who are out-of-towners are the corporate donors who are backing the Atlanta Police Foundation. They don’t live on Peachtree Street. They live on Wall Street.”
Oliver did, however, say that everyday people around the country and even the world will see the effects of Cop City in their hometowns. Their communities will use taxpayer money - their money - to pay for their law enforcement to learn what police euphemistically call urban tactics, and everyday people call excessive force.
“And when they pay for that, who's going to profit? Not the city of Atlanta, but the private Atlanta Police Foundation. They're the ones who’re going to take all the money. You’re giving them everything,” Oliver testified. “What kind of a government is that? That is a corporate-controlled government. That is fascism.”
Oliver was the first openly gay Senate candidate in Georgia, where he garnered over 80,000 votes and forced a runoff between the Republican and Democratic candidates. Oliver is running for president, seeking to be the Libertarian Party candidate in 2024.
To learn more about Chase Oliver, please visit votechaseoliver.com.
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