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The City of Atlanta has leased APF 350 acres of urban forest for $10 a year for the project, which is overwhelmingly opposed by local community members. Two-thirds of the $90 million facility is being bankrolled by corporate funders and private donations of APF, while the remainder of the price tag falls to taxpayers. Its construction is planned in South River Forest, an area primarily surrounded by low-income Black communities who overwhelmingly oppose the facility. The plans for this facility would make it the largest police training facility in the United States.
However, in their eagerness to begin construction, the Atlanta Police Foundation may be pushing the project forward by breaking the law.
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The first bulldozer entered the South River Forest at Key Road on January 24, knocking down trees and uprooting vegetation. Members of Defend the Atlanta Forest (https://defendtheatlantaforest.com/), a coalition that formed to oppose the Cop City project when it was announced last June, questioned the workers about their activities. The workers stated they were conducting soil boring and geotechnical engineering to prepare for construction.
However, GA Code § 12-7-7 requires a permit before clearing any trees or vegetation. Defend the Atlanta Forest contacted the Dekalb County Planning & Sustainability Department on January 26 by email and confirmed that there are currently no permits in effect for land disturbance or tree removal on the leased land parcels.
Nevertheless, bulldozers have continued to enter the forest every day this week. Multiple protestors were detained by DeKalb police while observing the destruction. "It's a shame that we're the ones being treated like criminals, when the Atlanta Police Foundation is the one that seems to be breaking the law," said a protester who asked not to be identified.
Marcus Robinson, Chief Building Official of the Planning and Sustainability department, stated by email that his team is currently investigating the case.
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