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Unmasking COP City: An Open Letter to Corporations

Multimillion dollar project poses serious concerns for Atlanta communities.
AFSC

By Jacob Flowers on January 12, 2024

UUSC has been involved in a coalition to address the production of “Cop City” in suburban Atlanta. The multimillion plan, sponsored by the Atlanta Police Foundation, would build a militarized police training facility in the area, ushering in environmental and racial justice implications for the local community. The American Friends Service Committee, a UUSC ally, is taking the lead in demanding that a number of corporations end their support of the Cop City project. Jacob Flowers, regional director for AFSC, penned an open letter to corporations supporting COP City in support of a week of action to hold these corporations accountable.

Corporate leaders: We need to talk. Cop City, a project led by the Atlanta Police Foundation with your support, has stirred important conversations and concerns around the role corporations play in shaping public policy, particularly in the realm of policing.

Corporations, like yours, undeniably wield influence. Yet, this influence must be wielded carefully and sparingly, especially when it comes to community issues such as policing and Cop City. Across the country our community will be showing up at your offices for a Corporate Week of Action from January 15-21 and demanding that you change the way you operate.

As you know, Cop City’s ambitious design encompasses military-grade training facilities and a simulated urban environment tailored for warfare exercises. The implications of this project, and your support for it, are far-reaching. Especially when you consider the training in repressive policing tactics that have historically been used against communities of color. Moreover, the planned police exchanges with foreign governments known for human rights violations should concern you greatly.

Additionally, the destruction of the Weelaunee Forest, one of Atlanta’s largest green spaces, to make way for Cop City raises environmental and social justice issues. The subsequent rise in temperatures and increases in flooding in nearby predominantly Black neighborhoods underscores the interconnectedness of environmental and racial justice concerns on this issue.

We are urging you to start by ending your involvement in Cop City and similar initiatives. And our call is to actively redirect corporate resources and influence away from community issues and towards the areas of influence that corporations have control over, like paying fair wages to your workers.

So if you really want to wield your influence in ways that build community we implore you to:

  • Make public commitment to divestment from Cop City paramount. It is an opportunity for corporations to align their actions with the broader public interest.
  • Cease all efforts with the Atlanta Police Foundation and other police foundations across the country.
  • Adopt business approaches that truly build community involving paying fair wages, fulfilling fiscal responsibilities by paying fair taxes, and embracing sustainable and socially responsible business practices.

This is an open invitation for corporations to reevaluate their positions and actively contribute to positive change. It’s an opportunity to join a growing movement that places community well-being, justice, and equity at the forefront.

In navigating the intricate intersection of corporate responsibility and community advocacy, the choices we make today have far-reaching implications for the kind of world we want to create tomorrow. It’s time for corporations to step up, reassess their roles, and actively participate in shaping a future where community well-being takes precedence over initiatives that perpetuate harm and inequality.

To make our case hundreds of people all over the country will be joining forces across the country for a week of action from January 15-21 to demand you and your CEO colleagues make these changes now. We hope you hear us; we might be loud, and we will be back until you change. We hope it is soon. There is a vision of community safety beyond policing that is coming and the sooner we can settle issues like this, the sooner that future will come.

Image credit: Elliot Hiss (American Friends Service Committee)

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