When police in Atlanta stormed a music festival in March being held by activists protesting Cop City, the proposed $90-million dollar police and firefighter training center that would be built on forest land, twenty-three of the activists arrested. They were accused of carrying out acts of vandalism and arson at a Cop City construction site over a mile from the music festival under Georgia’s domestic terror statute, although none of the arrest warrants tie any of the defendants directly to any illegal acts.
Cop City is yet another complex designed by the corporate state to train police in urban warfare. The plans include military-grade training facilities, a mock city to practice urban warfare, explosives testing areas, dozens of shooting ranges, and a Black Hawk helicopter landing pad. “It is a war base where police will learn military-like maneuvers to kill black people and control our bodies and movements,” Kwame Olufemi of Community Movement Builders points out. “The facility includes shooting ranges, plans for bomb testing, and will practice tear gas deployment. They are practicing how to make sure poor and working class people stay in line. So when the police kill us in the streets again, like they did to Rayshard Brooks in 2020, they can control our protests and community response to how they continually murder our people.”
But just as ominous as the militarization of domestic police forces and training complexes to turn police into internal armies of occupation is the use of terrorism laws to charge and imprison activists, protesters and dissidents.
Former Chicago Tribune reporter Will Potter in his book Green is the New Red documents how terrorism laws are used to crush dissent, especially dissent carried out by imprison animal rights and environmental activists. He likens the campaign to McCarthyism in the 1950s and warns that we are on the cusp of cementing into place a police state.
Potter, who became a vegan when he was a student at the University of Texas, participated in a canvassing campaign organized by a group called Stop Huntingdon Animal Cruelty, while working at the Tribune. The goal was to close down the laboratory of Huntingdon Life Sciences, which used animals for testing. The organizers were arrested for trespassing. And then Potter got a first-hand look at what was happening to civil liberties in the U.S. Two FBI agents appeared at Potter’s apartment demanding information about the group. If he refused to cooperate, he was told, his name would be included on the domestic terrorist list. Potter would eventually leave the paper to report on the government’s intimidation of activists, including nonviolent activists, who spoke out against the corporate state and the seizure of political and economic power by the 1 percent. Joining me to discuss the Orwellian world being erected around us is Will Potter.