Behind the Bastards

There’s a reason the History Channel has produced hundreds of documentaries about Hitler but only a few about Dwight D. Eisenhower. Bad guys (and gals) are eternally fascinating. Behind the Bastards dives in past the Cliffs Notes of the worst humans in history and exposes the bizarre realities of their lives. Listeners will learn about the young adult novels that helped Hitler form his monstrous ideology, the founder of Blackwater’s insane quest to build his own Air Force, the bizarre lives of the sons and daughters of dictators and Saddam Hussein’s side career as a trashy romance novelist.

It Could Happen Here Weekly 83

It Could Happen Here Weekly 83

Sat, 13 May 2023 04:00

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That means more pirates, more teacups, and more magic moments together. For less, you know you just can't wait to go. Visit undercover now to book your hotel in car rental and enjoy 30% off your Walt Disney World experience. And with a 365 day refund guarantee. There's no excuse undercover Hey everybody, Robert Evans here and I wanted to let you know this is a compilation episode. So every episode of the week that just happened is here in one convenient and with somewhat less ads package for you to listen to in a long stretch. If you want, if you've been listening to the episodes every day this week, there's gonna be nothing new here for you. But you can make your own decisions. Come Monday morning, basically no one was in the forest. The police raid the night prior pushed out most of the people gathered for the music festival and week of action. And it was still unclear how the rest of the week would now proceed. This Monday happened to be the Jewish holiday Purim. Initially there were plans to have a Purim celebration in the forest that evening, but it was unknown if people would feel comfortable returning to the woods. Welcome back to I could happen here. I'm Garrison Davis. This is episode three of my mini series covering the March 2023 week of action to defend the Atlanta forest. Monday, March 6th also happens to be the day of an Atlanta City Council meeting and the stop cop city clergy coalition held a well attended press conference at noon outside a city hall. Reverend Keanu Jones opened up at the press conference by making the clergy's position clear. We are the faith coalition against cop city and we are here to again raise our voices so that Mayor Andre Dickens and the members of the City Council of Atlanta know that we will not stand for the atrocities that have been occurring. We will not stand for cop city to go forward. The community came out and made public comment for over 17 hours when given an opportunity and said emphatically, no, we don't want your cop city. We don't want more repression of black people. We don't want more polluted air. We don't want less green space in our community. We don't want more policing and terrorizing of black brown indigenous bodies in our community. Reverend Jones gave her own perspective as a local Atlanta with deep ties to the city. So we are here as faith leaders today and we are here to say Mayor Dickens, if you didn't hear us the first time, we are here once again to let you know that we don't want cop city. This is our community. This is our land. I am a daughter of East Atlanta. I still live in East Atlanta. I don't want cop city. My granny owns a home that she's been in for almost 50 years in the heart of East Atlanta village. She does not want cop city. My neighbor across the street does not want cop city. The teachers at my daughter's school do not want cop city. She also addressed the outside agitators narrative that police and media have continued to craft against forced defenders, including by only arresting and charging people thought to be from out of town at the music festival that previous night. So we're here today to make sure that we ring the alarm and dispel the false narrative that is outside agitators who don't want this. We know that this is the rhetoric that's been going on ever since abolition began that it's outside agitators. They said slaves didn't want to be free, but it was white people from the north who wanted it. That's a lie. They said that black people in the South didn't want civil rights, but it was white people from the north. That's a lie. Today they are claiming that the black people love cop city. It's outside agitators from elsewhere and that again is a lie simply because the police have chosen to systematically arrest people from out of state doesn't mean that what they're saying is the truth. Reverend Leo Shay addressed other faith leaders and asked them to join in their calls to stop the cop city project. We local Atlanta clergy and religious leaders representing diverse communities call on clergy religious leaders and people of faith and moral conscience across this nation and in solidarity with local Atlanta leaders to stop cop city, stop the swap and defend the Atlanta forest. We're going to be the police will on a people's part. Today we're gathered for this press conference and we will be delivering a letter to Atlanta city council. But we invite you to continue in this faithful work that we are doing and contribute wherever you find your space in this growing movement. We are calling on clergy religious leaders who are a moral authority in our society to use your power in support of the forest protectors. We are deeply concerned for the greater Atlanta community and the implications for the future of public safety in the United States if cops. At the press conference, the coalition presented a letter to the city council signed by over 200 clergy members. Reverend Leo Shay also read it aloud. Despite a record breaking amount of public comment opposing the facility Atlanta city council still pass legislation to build cop city. We are troubled by leadership that stops acting on the will of the people and aligns itself instead with corporate money and the dominant power structure. Urged on by the message of peace and compassion in all our faiths, we deplore escalating militarization by city and state government. Most recently since the police killing of Rayshard Brooks here in 2020 by the Atlanta police department and toward Uguita January 18th of this year by Georgia patrol. We applaud the rising consciousness and the need to protect humans and the more than human by resisting police violence everywhere. And may I add that in the face of the violent raid that took place last night as city residents gathered in solidarity to defend this forest. That is an example of the militarization that we are calling out through violence and greed these lands have been subjected to centuries of abuse. From the forced removal of indigenous communities to serving as a plantation for enslaved African labor to the side of the old Atlanta prison honor farm in the 20th century that produced immense profits for the prison system. Today the sounds of Berg song from the forest canopy live alongside the sound of gunfire and the adjacent APD firing range. We are troubled by the commodification of community land water and air on which all of us depend. We are profoundly troubled by the use of military tactics and escalated legal charges on members of our community. Suppressing legitimate resistance while at the same time clear cutting the forest trees despite not having the appropriate permits. The lands and the people of Atlanta have suffered violence for too long. We say no more. We declare with faith commitment and hope that this land will be a part of healing and repair. We Atlanta clergy religious leaders and all of those across the nation and world who are in agreement join our voices with calling for the following. A complete stop of the cop city project and cancellation of the Atlanta police foundations lease. Dropping all charges against forest defenders and protesters. We demand an independent investigation into the uses of domestic terrorism charges. We demand an independent investigation into the killing of Manuel Teran Tortugita. We speak their name for which recently released video footage of the event suggests there was lying and deceit surrounding the incident on part of law enforcement and their initial reporting of the incident. The Muscogee elder Miko Shaban Colonel spoke at the press conference and called for a land back. And for the Muscogee people to return and remate to the willani forest in community with the black and brown residents of the area. Our ancestors lived here for over 13,000 years and if you're to do the math correctly this country that we now call the United States is somewhere in the neighborhood of 240. Just over nearly two years ago I came here to the willani forest. I came here with my own family, my own children, with some of my elders to just share a little bit about how this territory in this land feels to us as Muscogee people. Because let it be known today it was not our choice to leave here. We did go to war to protect these areas. We did go through much burden to protect these areas only to be forced to leave here under military occupation. But also to be forced to leave here after treachery after illegally lands were taken from us. This is our homeland. My ancestors for generation upon generation for millennia are buried on the very ground that you walk on every day. And I think we have a say in how we should live as a society in this day and time. And so in this moment our hope is to be able to come back to rematriate, to take our lives back and to the intimacy that we once had with everything that grows here in what you now call the state of Georgia. Because no matter who we are and where we come from we have to have air. We have to have water. We have to have the elements of this earth to take care of us regardless of what we think. We're dependent on this earth mother and she has been faithful in taking care of us. It's us that has not been faithful in respecting her. Our hope is that this earth is not destroyed before we even have a chance to come back. That lives aren't destroyed before we have a chance to come back. So today in whatever way I come here to join the choruses of voices that you hear all around you saying what is going on now is a violence against all of creation. And we stand in solidarity as muskogi people. I stand in solidarity with the voices that we hear of those tenants, those persons who live in the land now. But my hope is now at this moment in time that somehow we can change the trajectory of our species and go into a direction where we can value each other. And we can stop the criminalizing of the scent. We should be able to say no. The increasing of the militarized forces out there does not ever create peace. It only creates harm. And it only harms those that are most vulnerable. That's the prayer that I carry today. Reverend Darcy Jarrett joined in the call for a stewardship of the Wallani forest to be returned to the muskogi people. City schools of Decatur has a statement of solidarity and acknowledgement of harms. The city of Atlanta we call on you to make good on these words to give the land back to our indigenous siblings so that they as they have stated and will do and always have done work in collaboration with the black and brown community right there near where the site is outside of the Wallani forest. The city of Atlanta is ready to lease this land at just $10 an acre. Instead give this land to the native inhabitants, repatriate this land to the people to whom is their sacred call to defend and work in community with the black and brown communities that are there. We call on you Atlanta City Council to be the moral compass and to not just halt the building of this structure but to repatriate the land to the sovereign muskogi nation, the sacred keepers of this land. May it be so. Amen. Finally, Matthew Johnson spoke about the worrying amount of police repression and violence the movement has already seen. We're projecting by the end of the day there will be 40 people that have domestic terrorism charges, many of which just for being in a parking lot. I don't know how anybody can accept this when you have a projected 40 people that are committed of domestic terrorism not one dead body. Meanwhile, we can't even show the bruise on the police officer that was allegedly shot at but our friends ashes. We have the ashes of a friend that we will spread. We can no longer accept this as a people as it lanterns. If we can't figure out a way to fix public safety without lacking tons of black kids up in the blackest city in America, every person in that building needs to step down. If we can't do it here, we can't do it anyway. Both myself and Matt from the Atlanta Community Press Collective were at the press conference and we met up after to discuss the events of the day. During the press conference, some of the media's line of questioning was very much aligned with the types of narratives being put out by police in relation to the events that previous night, the Sunday Direct Action and Music Festival. I think it's also worth noting that the people at the clergy event did not openly demonize the actions that people chose to take on Sunday. The media gave them opportunities to try to throw people under the bus and that did not happen. We've seen that all throughout the week, every chance that the media is trying to throw somebody to cause dissension or divide amongst the movement has been really handily deflected by anyone who has come across it. The clergy did not just a good job of not falling into that trap, but of actually pointing out how that line of thinking was missing the point and where the true violence was coming from. This is happening in Atlanta. Why are there people engaging in violence in the other states? The reality is that the ones who are engaging in violence are the police and they're from right here in Atlanta, Georgia. You got APD, you got Georgia State Police, you got GBI, you got Georgia State Troopers, you got everybody except the Marta Police who are engaging in violence and terrorism against the people who are standing against this illegal land swap. So I would suggest that the next time you decide that you are going to bring up your police rhetoric that you get from whichever police source, you go ahead and discuss that with them because we don't know what they're doing, but what we do know is what we're doing and what we see from them that we know. I know when I get hit by an officer. I know when I see a mother with a child begging to be let up off the ground because her children are with her. I know when I see officers pointing a rifle inside a bouncy house. If I could just say I'd like to just bring up a story. Initially the colonizers that came onto this land attempted to use the indigenous folks as their slaves. However, the indigenous folks knew the land so they could get away. Now when you ask me about why is it that you keep catching people that aren't from here that might not reflect the people that are actually involved in the resistance. God bless you. Thank you. After the press conference, people from the clergy coalition marched to the front door and entered City Hall before making it upstairs to sign up for public comment during the City Council meeting. We shall not be moved. The large group of the clergy and the people gathered for the Interfaith Coalition are now moving through City Hall. There's a whole bunch of cops who look relatively nervous about the easily sized group of people. The scary Christians are now invading City Hall. Look out. Usually in City Hall there are several APD officers who hang out. While the clergy are walking up to City Hall, you can look out and there is APD on every corner. Then you enter into City Hall and there are clusters of APD, there are four floors to City Hall. There are clusters of APD on three sides of every floor of City Hall. After an unexpectedly long awards and proclamations ceremony, the public comment section of the City Council meeting finally began. I'm standing here today with the faith coalition. We are clergy and faith leaders. We are citizens and we are protectors of the land that doesn't belong to us but belongs to God. We are deeply concerned for our community members, for ourselves and the implications, for the future of public safety in the United States if this cops city development goes forward. We are asking for all people of faith, those of you who sit on council regardless of your tradition or background and those who stand with moral conscience, to stop the cops city project. My faith convicts me and tells all of us that there is a better way. We have a prophetic moral imagination and opportunity here to do something different in Atlanta, to do something different for the South. Finally, we are asking for a community process, a community process. Let us come together with moral imagination to envision how the Willani River Forest can be the heart and lungs of community wellness and healing. Not more militarization of police. We want a process that centers the voice and needs of muskokie leaders and community members. Our indigenous siblings and incarcerated folks and surrounding prisons, families and neighbors who live in cross proximity to the firing range and under police surveillance. We want holistic community safety, clean water, tree canopies, a future for every single one of our children. May it be so. Someone from the muskokie Creek Reservation in Oklahoma spoke about the desire to return to their homeland. The meek of our Halebi ceremonial grounds back home in Oklahoma has come here where our original fire was started and then it was taken all the way to Oklahoma. And now we want to bring it back to our land and we want to start those fires again. Well, when we come back, we need a land to come back to. This is my first time coming back to visit my homelands. I wanted to visit here where my ancestors are as a spiritual and personal journey. I didn't want to come here to try to fight the violence that I'm hearing. What I'm hearing is from the residents is they need investment in housing and public spaces and not investment in further militarized policing. They want investment in well-being of incarcerated and not further violent incarceration but the well-being of the community members. Thank you, Mato. Chi Chalice. I turned 70 last week and I've lived in Atlanta my whole life. I'm not an outsider and I am here to say to you that I find cop city to be an abomination. My husband is a pastor of a church, a couple of miles from here and he could not be here today. He's out of town. But he stands with me with these comments. The people who have spoken before me have said the things I would say but I would like to say that I pretty much agree with every single thing they have said about this insanity that you all are calling a police safety training facility. So I think you need to just cancel it. Start having some real conversations with the people of this city to solve the real problems in a way that will actually be effective and this facility is not going to be it. And the mayor's proposed task force is just one more way to try to propagandaize us to believe that this is good for us when we're not stupid and we know it's just lipstick on a pig. And if you heart in your heart be reminded of the story of another Pharaoh who had a very hard heart who would not free the people of God who would not lead them to their land. You know what happened in that story. Don't think that you will not suffer the same fate. Don't think that the infrastructure of this so-called black mecca will not come toppling over because it will. There are a couple of things to note about how city council public comment works. City council doesn't tend to pay attention to them. A sensibly the only one who pays attention is city council president Judd Shipman because it is his job to call time and to call up the next person. But city councilors will like step in and out of the room get something to eat during the 17 hours of public comment for cops city like one of them held a press conference. There are two council members notoriously bad at paying attention to public comment Dustin Hillis who is the committee chair for the public safety legal administration committee basically he's in charge of police. And the other is Mary Norwood who represents Buckhead and has what I would describe as ontologically evil vibes. Buckhead is the northern primarily white neighborhood in Atlanta that is wanted to secede from the city. Which in Atlanta has very uncomfortable segregation and redlining parallels. But despite not paying attention during public comment these two in particular both paid extra attention after public comment when police chief Darren Sheerbaum gave testimony on what happened the night previous. Whether any firefighter or police city employee entries yesterday's event. Councillor Hillis there was not we're very fortunate that that was the outcome. We're fortunate that there was no injuries. If this continues do we have the ability to deploy even greater force to to quill this you know the millions of damage millions of dollars of damage to public and private properties. We will make adjustments as those that use various tactics yesterday was an escalation we had not seen this large number of individuals engaged in this activity. And the aggressive manner in which the officers were attacked was a significant change from what you'd seen before when it generally had been setting property on fire would seen police cars set on fire when those buses but this was started to attack against individuals. Men and women who are employees of the city so that was an escalation council member. Hella said we have already made adjustments for both within our capability as well as with our partners throughout the sheerbaum's testimony it was interesting the degree to which the chief framed Sunday's direct action as primarily being targeted against officers and not the destruction of equipment and machinery at the north gate. From the videos that APD themselves released of the incident it's clear that engagement with the police was limited to keeping officers at bay as construction equipment was targeted. And despite the continued referring of fireworks as quote unquote mortars or explosives as the chief himself admitted no officers were harmed during the direct action. In a later episode will hear more of chief sheerbaum's explanation of Sunday nights events as it gives insight into the police's own surveillance capabilities and their ability to respond quickly to direct actions but until then back to the events of Monday March 6th. After the city council meeting I dressed up in the gaze that will out that I had with me and went back to the woods for the first time since Sunday night for Purham. Initially people were very cautious when entering the woods again but as the night went on more and more people started to pour into the forest with some choosing to return to their camp later that night I enjoyed an experimental noise show in the living room probably to the detriment of people trying to sleep in the area. I went to the Purham in the woods I got to share my memory of the Veggie Tales Esther story starring the tickle monsters I got to bond with a few ex-vengelecals about that so that was fine then there was an experimental noise show in the forest and really I think it actually is what's talking about because this was the first time people return to the forest. This was the first time the people like returned to the forest in mass since Sunday and you started to kind of feel people's energy get reinvigorated the woods became a place again that people were able to be in and feel like they were able to be in community in the woods again. That is in keeping with sort of how this movement is always responded to what we could call a loss. 23 people getting arrested and charged is a great loss. The balance back period is pretty quick like the resiliency is continual and always strengthening every time that the repression grows it does seem like the resiliency grows with it. People were not scared away from the woods people still were like no this is something I care about I am still going to be in the woods I'm still going to defend these woods. You kind of have there's always this essence of fear kind of underlying whenever you're in the will on a forest because you know people have been arrested and charged for laying in a hammock like that with another defendant with another defendant. And like so you know that it is it is fundamentally a risky place to be but people think the potential cost is worth it like they will they continue to be here because they know this is a winnable fight and they know that it is worth it to defend these woods. Early Tuesday morning a few stop cop city banner drops happened throughout the city. Two people were detained by police during one of these banner drops but were later released with a traffic citation after being interrogated separately and extensively photographed by law enforcement officials only identified as quote Georgia police and homeland security. Tuesday was the start of a series of non-violent direct actions that were being launched around downtown and midtown Tuesday morning I followed a small group that went to the headquarters of North York Southern one of the Atlanta police foundations financial contributors and noted enemy of Ohio. They enter the lobby and it's a very small group like I think half of it was like five people and the other five like press people yeah so they they enter the and they read a loud a letter to Alan Shaw the CEO of Northwick Southern calling for investment from Northwick Southern from cop city and immediately they are met with a security guard screaming like go you're get out of the little happy you're being criminally trust pass you have to leave one of the other security guards runs around with a cell phone camera and like shoves it in everybody's faces reaching rather rudely over you to get my face yes and they got very close to me and entering the Northwick Southern building. And so the whole thing lasts like last in five minutes maybe right about five minutes when they finish reading the letter like all they asked was that the letter go to the CEO. While people were inside the headquarters security called NS police which is the Northwick Southern police who are legally allowed to arrest people. But nobody was arrested at that non violent direct action the whole thing was over pretty quickly and you know as we were walking out we saw like the the force of Northwick Southern police like swarm kind of the exterior of the campus and like keep an eye out on things. And then we moved over to Woodruff Park which was the meeting place for these non violent direct actions that happened about every every day at noon starting on starting on Tuesday. It's Tuesday March 7th around noon there's about 50 or so people gathered in Woodruff Park who are heading out and marching to go stop by two of the Atlanta police foundation corporate funders. We roll up and I think at that point there were like 20ish protesters it started off very small there was no police like no real visible police presence there were like maybe a cruiser or two like kind of around. And activists start to gather and kind of talk about like what their plan is for the day which was just to march around to three different sites they wanted the 18 to building the Georgia Pacific building and GSU Georgia State University. They are they are now leaving Woodruff Park they got to Georgia Pacific one of the cops city financial backers without much incident and without much in terms of visible police presence. People called on Mayor Dickens who is the chair of the board of directors for Georgia Pacific to cancel the Atlanta police foundation lease of the land that cops city is slated to be built on. Mayor Dickens we want you to cancel this lease we know that you have the authority to do so they finished up that Georgia Pacific they set up a little vigil for Tortiquita and from Georgia Pacific they began their track to the 18 to building. They left a little vigil for Tortiquita in front of the Georgia Pacific center and the group of like more than 50 people are continuing to march north. Police eight to 10 police officers are directly behind them and the whole bunch of police cars are blocking peach tree. Along the path to AT&T was the APF's headquarters just across the street and as the crowd approached this intersection the amount of police ballooned massively. In the block around the Atlanta police foundation headquarters there's got to be about 30 to 40 officers stationed blocking off the entrance to the APF and also just like following the crowd around as they're marching through the sidewalks. There's definitely over God there's 75 officers to put in this area right now the number keeps growing as we start walking down different different sidewalks and different streets you just see more officers have already stationed. There are 50 activists and what certainly over 100 some were probably between 120 police officers started marching not like behind not in front but directly beside the march sort of pinning the march to the wall and like essentially cuddling the march. There was police station in front there was police station behind and police station on the side it was surrounding the surrounding like these 50 people who were who were simply walking on the sidewalk. Sumbling upon a new group of officers. I'd rather be about 100 officers in this area right now. At one point a police vehicle was just parked on the sidewalk completely blocking it. During this entire time police were blocking all of the traffic in these intersections and roads. Driving wrong way up a one way like just doing doing police things. A Georgia State University canine unit this blocking off the entire sidewalk next to a Fulton County Sheriff's vehicle. They're trying to make it impossible for people to actually move on the sidewalk. But for the most part the people have been able to move around the police and keep their movement going instead of just stalling in one spot or like trying to physically confront the what is now like hundreds hundreds of law enforcement officers from Fulton County Sheriff's and Atlanta Police Department. And even like Georgia State University police. So the group is split up in between two streets right now. The people are trying to follow the crossing signals because otherwise police are going to tackle and violently assault people. No one was arrested people marched to their perspective locations. People very pointedly kept to laws. There was a couple of times when like the crosswalk changed and the group kind of had to split. They would stay and wait until the crosswalk went back to walk and then crossover and join. It's so funny that the cops are so insistent if you step on the street you're going to get arrested and making sure people stay on the sidewalks. But the result of that is that all the cops are standing in the street and they're blocking off like miles of traffic downtown right now. People just arrived at the 51 Peach Street Center Avenue AT&T building in downtown Atlanta. Police were already stationed in front of the AT&T building so there wasn't much to do. After a brief speech talking about AT&T's contributions to the police foundation and cops city, the crowd moved on. Now people are turning west in the opposite direction from the AT&T headquarters heading back into the Woodruff Park area where this march began. Police with long guns here. Finally the crowd stopped at Georgia State University and talked about GSU's connections to the Atlanta Police Foundation. What is of note for this action and really all of the actions that happened the next few days is not what the protesters did. It's the police's disproportionate response to just 50 people walking on the sidewalk, chanting and giving short speeches outside of businesses tied to APF. With a small line of officers in front of GSU, they gave their last round of speeches and sort of dispersed for the day. Before we wrap today and give these clouds something else to go do, we will be out here. We will be out here for the rest of the week, for the rest of the hunt, for the rest of the year. And we will fight until we win. So, I'm standing. Some of the police are now grouping up and opening up the sidewalk so people can actually leave. It seems officers were in fact instructed to make arrests during this action, but for some reason did not follow through on those orders according to scanner audio from Atlanta Police Department's SWAT team. It's about 50 of them. The problem is they've been telling them to make arrests, but also not making a arrest. I guess they weren't supposed to. I don't know, but I'm lit with that. We're just hold what we got and I'm following this. Extensive police activity continued later that night. At around 5.30 to 6 p.m., police started staging around the forest in a way that usually indicates that a raid is forthcoming. Word spread around the recovering encampment that police could be preparing for a raid. So, the initial reports were like that there were 50 police officers staged at Key Road and ready to go. And then the cab county SWAT starts to roll up at the fire station and I would say a fair amount of panic starts to set it at camp. Multiple police copters are getting flown overhead. Multiple different SWAT teams are being brought in. At least like three or four different agencies are stationing officers around the woods. I believe it's estimated that at least 120 police officers were being staged in the area directly surrounding the forest and in the area by the power line cut on Key Road. And it should be said that up until this point, the police have never brought in that many resources to any protest action that I'm aware of and not come in and engaged. So, I was with a group off site who immediately began to fear, they wouldn't be able to get back to their camp size. They wouldn't be able to get their gear. They wouldn't be able to get their medication. And that from what I understand was the general vibe around, but nothing happened. Nothing seemed to happen. And then at around seven police started to almost like express confusion on what was going on and then everyone else expressed, expressed confusion for why the police were confused. And we think we've kind of put together what may have happened. So, Clark, what is suspected of going down here? So, the one thing that police don't understand and probably will never understand is humor. Now, they become the butt of the joke often, but they don't understand comedy. So, at seven o'clock that evening was scheduled comedy in the forest. And from what we've gathered, the police thought that the comedy in the forest event was going to be a cover for another Sunday night like action. And this event was scheduled on the public, defend the Atlanta Forest calendar that anyone can look at online is this comedy in the woods event for people to tell jokes around a campfire. And I guess they thought it was like this event that was like a red herring so that people could then go do violent militancy around the woods. So, when seven o'clock came and went, the police were expecting people to like arrive in the woods or something and that just didn't happen because it turns out a few minutes before seven o'clock this comedy event was canceled for like unrelated reasons the organizer had had things come up. So, this event just didn't happen, but there still was comedy in the woods. It just was that the police wasted probably over a hundred thousand dollars mobilizing over a hundred officers. And I mean, obviously, I think some people in the woods were, you know, had some frustration that that you know they experienced this fear of this possibly incoming raid that then resulted in there being nothing. I think it's always important to when people are relaying information, they relay information that is known without like uninduced speculation. So, like, it is a fact to say that there's over a hundred cops stationed by the woods and they never had that many cops there before without doing some sort of raid or some sort of some sort of activity in the forest. And part of what I've heard go on since then was, you know, some very generative conversations about how they're going to take into account like this new paradigm that developed that night. And I think that again speaks to sort of just how the movement continues to develop and grow and like, you know, handle new new challenges and shifts. So, with the forest camp is still intact, the week of action continued on as planned with another downtown nonviolent direct action that next morning. So, Wednesday noon is a lot smaller of direct action than than the day before it starts with like a dozen people. It slowly grows like a few dozen, but yeah, it started extremely, extremely small. So, this was one one difference from Tuesday is that when we arrived police already had a visible presence in downtown stationed around Woodruff Park. So, group of people just launched from Woodruff Park. They kind of split off in different, different little sub groups. Lots of people are just stationed outside of Marta stops handing out flyers and that is what people are doing right now. Police seem relatively confused and are trying to like mobilize to different areas where they feel like something might happen. But it's just people handing out flyers. And they decided to split into groups and engage in like just some typical outreach activity that you would see, you know, from any group like just passing out flyers and pamphlets and attempting from what I saw to have like one-on-one conversations with anyone who wanted to. So, this group that broke off into these smaller sub groups, the group that we kind of accompanied stationed themselves around some Marta stops around, I believe it was like the Peach tree Marta station. Peach tree center marty station. Yeah, so they stationed at the three different exits or entrances for that just handing out flyers, handing out leaflets, trying to talk to anybody who walks by. Another group of people standing outside of a public transit spot handing out flyers, probably like I don't know four or five other small groups doing similar things throughout downtown, which means police have a lot more places to be as opposed to just following one big group. The group that we followed had its own police presence, follow it. And then when they split into three more groups, each group had its own police presence, follow it and police stuck to the protesters the entire time. And of course, like there's white transport vans that are full of cops kind of driving by. I think white van full of police officers just showed up across the street. Army green tan, SWAT vehicle just parked a block away from the Atlanta Police Foundation headquarters. There was an Atlanta SWAT vehicle parked outside of the hooters. Totally normal response. Totally normal response. And so the leafletting goes on for like 45 minutes and then all of the groups start to gather together conveniently with a group that we had embedded with. All right, there's actually a pretty decent number of people gathered here for the flowering event today. You know, normal police response to people handing out flyers just 50 officers in the SWAT team. But yeah, there's probably at this point like two or three dozen people that have kind of all converged together started off very small. People were very, very spread out. They splintered off into little, little smaller groups. But now they've all kind of coalesced together back again. So all the little subgroups kind of meet up on Andrew Young and peach tree right next to the hooters and the hard rock cafe. This area is like the business district. So in the middle of the day, it's like really busy. It's a fairly like good spot to pass out leaflets. So they are passing these leaflets at pedestrians are still able to like walk through it the sidewalks. It's pretty chill. And then APD approaches the crowd like the APD has already been around this area. There's the SWAT vehicle across the street to watching people hand out flyers. But then a lieutenant Neil Welch approaches the crowd and gives them a dispersal order. Okay, can I read you the dispersal order? All right, so I'm Lieutenant Neil Welch, a police officer of the city of Atlanta. I hereby declare that being on this sidewalk, you're obstructing or repeating the normal and reasonable movement of pedestrian traffic and violation of Atlanta City ordinance. Okay. And the name of the people is stated Georgia. I hereby command that all present in the sidewalk, all present here in the sidewalk immediately exit the street or the roadway or sidewalk. If you do not do so, you may be detained or arrested. Should you fail to exit the sidewalk in accordance with this lawful command, you shall be in violation of section 150266 obstructing pedestrian traffic, which prohibits standing or being on any street, roadway or sidewalk in a manner to obstruct or impede the normal, reasonable pedestrian traffic. Cops threatened arrest and detainment. They claimed that people were blocking the sidewalk, which they absolutely were not. I was walking freely as was all of the downtown pedestrian traffic. They were not blocking anything. This is pretty silly. Orderly ridiculous response to people handing out flyers. So they were told they cannot be on the sidewalk. Obviously they can't be on the street where you allowed to protest if not the sidewalk or the street. It seemed like very flimsy legal footing, but obviously they please can arrest anyone they want at any time for any reason. So people decided to move. They crossed over the street. They walk like a block north. They cross the street again. And they move on to this part of the sidewalk that is like really large, like a massive, massive open section that you need. Yeah, right in front of them all. So it's eight. It's meant to like have a bunch of people passed by it. So people continue to hand out flyers. While this is happening, there's another group who comes in to the side of Peachtree Center Mall and enters the mall to find Mayor Andre Dickens. There are a couple of boards in Atlanta that stipulate the mayor is like the head of the board. And this is one of them and it meets in Peachtree Center Mall as one does. So the mayor is having a meeting in the mall and office spaces, you know, sort of above the mall and the group of people from the Miss Gogi Nation enter and try to meet up with the mayor to hand off a letter. Objection. Objection. We have a letter being delivered from the Miss Gogi Creek Nation on behalf of Miss Gogi Creek Spiritual Leadership and Opposition to the Cops. And you need to know that the contemporary Miss Gogi people are now making their journey back to our homelands and hereby give notice to Mayor Andrew Dickens, the Atlanta City Council, the Atlanta Police Department, the Atlanta Police Foundation, the DeCobb County Sheriff's Office, and so-called Cops City that you must immediately vacate Miss Gogi homelands and cease violence and policing of Indigenous and Black people in Miss Gogi. We lived as stewards and in relationship to this land for more than 13,000 years until the illegitimate state of Georgia negotiated with the Tyrant Andrew Jackson for the militarized for the militarized forced removal of Miss Gogi and Cherokee relatives to Indian territories. Mayor Dickens, can I give a letter to you? He got one. Mayor, we want to talk to you about our homelands. It's a Miss Gogi Creek people. Three Indigenous activists along with Camel Franklin arrive and they find the mayor. They enter the board meeting and they begin to read this letter from the Miss Gogi Nation allowed. In the letter, it essentially says that Atlanta is being evicted out of the way Launey Forest and the most scogi people are going to return and reclaim their ancestral land. Mayor Dickens in true mayor fashion bolts away from this running through an exit door which is then blocked by a guard which I think that has its own set of legal issues. It's really just ignoring them over shoulder he calls out I've got a copy of the letter and hides just completely trying to escape what is not a good look for him. The Atlanta Police Department Apex SWATCH team was called to the mall and right as the activists were able to exit the special police units rushed into the building finding no one. By now the police repression during this week of action far exceeded police activity during any of the prior weeks of action and this trend would continue as the week entered its last few days. The next episode will wrap up our coverage for the week as well as contain a bit more analysis of the police repression and the follow of Sunday's direct action. But then there will be a fifth bonus episode that gives an overview of what's happened in the Launey Forest in the intervening two months. See you on the other side. Music Festival Audio courtesy of Unicorn Riot. Music Festival Audio Music Festival Music Festival Audio Music Festival Music Festival Music Festival Music Festival Music Festival Music Festival Music Festival Music Festival Music Festival Music Festival Music Festival Music Festival Music Festival Music Festival Music Festival Music Festival Music Festival Music Festival Music Festival Music Festival Music Festival Music Festival Music Festival Music Festival Music Festival Music Festival Music Festival Music Festival Music Festival Music Festival Music Festival Music Festival Music Festival Music Festival Music Festival Music Festival Music Festival Music Festival Music Festival Music Festival Music Festival Music Festival Music Festival Music Festival Music Festival Music Festival Music Festival Music Festival Music Festival Music Festival Music Festival Music Festival Music Festival Music Festival Music Festival Music Festival Music Festival Music Festival Music Festival Music Festival Music Festival Music Festival Music Festival Kamu Franklin, the founder of community movement builders, was the last person to speak in front of the Atlanta Police Foundation. We know cops see it, it's nothing but a strategy for over-policing our communities. We know that cops see it's nothing but a strategy to stop our movements. We know that police are the ones against police violence and terrorism in our community. It's a 2021 that they introduced this idea to stop the city out here to stop our movements. When we were talking about the fun police abolished the police, final term it is the public safety. And then put that idea out there and the movement was born to stop cops city. This movement is two years old and it doesn't look like it's going to stop to me. By the end you got this sense that this march did exactly what it wanted to. There were 300 people standing like a foot away from two dozen cops, stirring them down, giving speeches, chanting. If people wanted to, other things could have happened. This rally could have resulted in many ways, many of them probably very ugly and carrying a very high cost. The reason we did a march like this today was to say to all the natives, that folks don't work cops city. It doesn't mean people don't work cops city. Why folks don't work cops city? And legends don't work cops city. Folks of our style don't work cops city. Nobody in the United States works cops city. The monasteries don't work cops city. The people in Latin America don't work cops city. No here in this world don't we work cops city. We wanted to make sure that we came in safety and we leave in safety. We wanted to make sure that we don't have any more political prisoners today. That we wanted this to be a march about our unity and our safety and numbers. And as we wrap up today that's what we want. It's not like we got to give them an excuse when you're around the cop. The same way when you're around a wild animal. What do you got to do? You got to be cautious. You got to be careful. You got to move a certain way. You got to know which way to go. Because you're looking to protect your safety. And right now look at it protect our safety. So as we depart here today we are departing in unity. We are departing together. We are going to walk back in close quarters together where our cars work. If you're going to martyr you're going to walk close together with other people as you go to martyr. If you need a band to pick you up. If you can't take martyr to block this way by the pros. So we want you to be safe, secure. Because you want to be out here again. The fight comes city. There was a sense that the people there wanted to show that if they wanted to do things they could have. But they knew that this was not the right time nor the right place. And understanding of what practice in that situation is. In the speeches that happened beforehand there was people from community movement builders, from black votes matter, a whole bunch of other black led groups in the city. And similarly what happened at the clergy event there was not a single wif of combination of militant tactics, of property destruction, of actions that people take. People there who gave speeches recognized that such tactics were a staple of the civil rights movement. Early Saturday morning I woke up to news that police had begun another raid. But instead of raiding the Wallani forest, the police were searching the 10 acre property of the Lakewood Environmental Arts Foundation or Leif, a local nonprofit that was offering safe haven for people during the week of action. Alright so the land police have executed a warrant on the Leif meetup spot in southeast Atlanta that people have been using. It's a welcome center, it's like a medic station. Another spot to hang out. It was set up after the raid, it's Sunday night. And it is now Saturday morning. The police have executed this warrant to search for a pharmacist, ID, everyone who's there. We got eight group of people who's being able to leave right now. There has been a prison transport vehicle called in and cops have like blocked off intersections around the area. No one's allowed to get close. People are not allowed to return to their cars. People are not allowed to return to the private property. Since Sunday night the land was being used as a medic hub and provided a secondary place to camp for those who didn't feel safe staying in the forest. During their raid Saturday morning police detained at least 22 people and refused to show anyone the search warrant. And yeah the group that got released is just walking up now. Maybe like two dozen people have been able to walk up. We just got through their police lines and we're gonna yeah, huddle up and get to a safe place. We were woken up by helicopters. There had been helicopters doing rounds all evening. And I don't even know what time seven something we heard loudspeakers saying that they had a warrant for to search the property private property. And that was very disorienting obviously I was in the middle of sleeping. We came out with our hands open our hands up. We had more than 20 guns pointed at us. Some people have their fingers on triggers. Certainly they were screaming at me. And as I was waking up they came through the line. They said that they had a warrant to search the property. We know that Homeland Security was one of the departments that was arrested. There was part of the arrest crew or extraction crew or whatever. It's very traumatic obviously. It's freezing. This is the coldest day this week. And so we are worried about people's health because people are cold. They detained us. They took identification. It was extremely violent situation. But everyone here was really taking care of each other and remaining calm. To address the raid activists scheduled a press conference for later that day after a youth rally to defend the forest was to take place in East Village. And I think you can hear said youths in the background. So excuse their joyous young screams. We thought that it was important for us to not only amplify the wonderful children's march that happened here today. The community in East Atlanta. This community where they are proposing to build cop city came out this morning overwhelmingly to say that they don't want cop city. So we had parents. We had children. We had other neighbors and community stakeholders who gathered right here in Brownwood Park today at East Atlanta to say that we are East Atlanta. And cop city is not a part of what we imagine and envision for this community. Also this morning unfortunately there is a place that was held as a commune for campers who wanted to stand in solidarity during this week of action. The place is called LE. A non-profit organization that dedicated to combating food insecurity here within the city of Atlanta offered up their space to be used for people who did not feel safe camping in the forest because of the over aggression of police there. And they wanted to stand in solidarity with this week of action. So we offered up their space for those people to camp safely. Unfortunately this morning a gang of police officers descended upon that sacred space. During the raid up to 40 officers swarmed the property, ransacking the infrastructure set up at the leaf encampment site. Cops slash departs two medical supply tents disrupting medical operations, broke windows of a camper van parked on the site and ripped apart a greenhouse. Police took pictures of the people detained at leaf and collected their IDs. But after being held for several hours the police let all but one person go free to quote an article by Candace burned in truth out quote one person was arrested for an outstanding parking ticket demonstrating the state's desperation to snatch up anyone associated with the stop cop city movement. Good afternoon everybody. My name is Marlon Coutts. I'm an organizer with the Atlanta Solidarity Fund. We're civil liberties and anti-requestion organization that exists to make sure that people who participate in social movements have the right to protest and don't suffer from repression. So the reason I'm here is because as we've all heard previously there was an incident of political repression early this morning. Police executed a search warrant and performed a raid against the Lakewood Environmental Arts Foundation which is a community space in Lakewood Atlanta that exists primarily to serve artists and musicians. It's clear that it was part of a political strategy to repress and intimidate protesters who are associated with the stop cop city movement and movements of the federal forest. And this is very concerning especially when taken in context. Of course it's very likely that police are going to report that this was part of a routine investigation, a law enforcement matter that they had every right to conduct. The other thing that police are likely to claim is that they made an arrest on scene and our understanding is that they did make an arrest due to somebody who was there having an old traffic ticket from a long time ago. So it's important to clarify that the arrest was because of a traffic ticket not because of any alleged crimes related to movement or any other serious criminal activity. So it's important that we understand this raid as part of a series of ongoing abuses of the legal process to harass and intimidate political protesters. They were unable to demonstrate any criminal activity during their raid on the Lakewood Environmental Arts Foundation. But they're continuing to abuse every justification that they can to raid spaces, to make arrests and to hold people in jail. So before the police come out and say we raid at this place where all of these outside aggressors were and we picked up some violent offenders we want you to know. The our brothers and sisters who were standing with us in solidarity just saying hey we want to camp here since we don't feel safe camping in the people's park that's been overrun with police repression and aggression. They raided that place. They snatched people up. Some people were sleeping. They took pictures of people. They took their IDs and they searched and searched. Found nothing else never produced a warrant and only one person was arrested because of an outstanding parking ticket. About a week after the raid, the Guardian obtained evidence of the search warrant. The warrant stated that there was probable cause for believing that evidence of quote conspiracy to commit domestic terrorism, unquote, could be found at the Lakewood location listed in the warrant were objects officers sought which included quote cameras radios boxes of nails, lighters, tents, camping equipment, spray paint, black clothing and literature related to defend the forest. These were the materials tied to domestic terrorism. As the week progressed, there were an increasing number of reports of police tailing people coming and going from a marches and especially the actions downtown. Basically, officers would follow people suspected of participating in the movement, pull them over, try to ID anyone within the vehicles and then issue some nonsense traffic citation. This continued on Thursday after the community movement builders march. As people were heading home from the public park, police stocked a few individuals and pulled over multiple vehicles. A van carrying one of the speakers was targeted as well as two other cars that were pulled over as they were leaving the protest. Marlin from the Atlanta Solidarity Fund talked about the various ways police have been using their power to intimidate activists and suppress protest. Our organization has gotten many reports of pretext stops of political protesters or people who are suspected of being political protesters because of bumper stickers on their car or the state that their license plate is from. We've gotten reports of people being stopped and frisked simply because they're profiled as looking like political activists. And of course, we've seen dozens of protesters or suspected protesters arrested and charged with domestic terrorism simply because they were found at a music festival that's associated with the stock cop city movement. And so we can see that every step of the way police and prosecutors are abusing the legal process to intimidate and discourage this movement. Throughout this time, police have been watching or monitoring one of the offsite locations in the forest. They've parked in front of this site and kept up surveillance on it. And then leading all the way up into Friday, there was a journalist pulled over leaving the final nonviolent direct action from Woodruff Park. They were pulled over with two other people in the car and detained briefly, ostensibly to continue to identify and connect people. A big part of the story for this week of action is the excess of the police response to quite typical acts of quote unquote nonviolent protest. The sort that the government and even the police love to claim that they actually protect with every single action downtown this week virtually no laws were being broken, not even any civil disobedience. People were handing out flyers marching on sidewalks giving up letters and the police's response was to deploy SWAT to mobilize hundreds of officers to shut down multiple city blocks to carry AR-15s as they tail crowds of a few dozen people just walking on the sidewalk and yelling at people if they accidentally miss a step off the curb and threaten violent arrest. This was the sort of extremely aggressive response to people doing protest quote unquote the right way. We should highlight that that is the apparent goal of these protests was to show that even when they are doing things the right way, this is how the state reacts to dissent. It reacts in this militarized fashion where you like it's it's I think a big part of what's happened in these types of protests that have happened the past week is demonstrating why people are campaigning to stop cop city because the sheer amount of resources that the police already have in the city to be to be to be deploying hundreds and hundreds of officers every single day to respond to people handing out flyers. It's like to respond to people who are walking on the sidewalks they have they have this massive amount of resources there they're using tear gas in the woods they're using pepper balls they're using flashbangs there they're having multiple different SWAT teams follow around people handing out pamphlets. The level of police militarization in Atlanta is already at this extremely high point and cop city is only going to intensify that and that is the reason they want to build cop city it's for this type of urban counter and surgency training to quell civil unrest and to quell protest. On Thursday night we held a very peaceful and successful march in downtown Atlanta starting at the king center we had someone who was stopped by the police and asked if he was picking up protesters taken out of the vehicle handcuffed for no reason they couldn't find a reason to detain him any longer so they had to let him go. But Atlanta this is why we're standing against cop city because if cop city is built you can guarantee that you won't even be able to go to the grocery store without being harassed by the police for no reason at all. When I spoke with Matthew Johnson he brought up a similar point with the resources that the police had to respond in the way that they did the assertion that they need more more training in a militarized facility or they need more resources. The police resources is crazy because you had them literally outnumbering protesters and kettling them and we have credible sources that say that there were SWAT forces who had instructed the officers to arrest non violent protesters and there were actually police officers that refused to take that order which I think is another fascinating dynamic that is worth exploring and understanding more. But just with the resources that they had to try to shut down protesters harass folks constantly ticket and pull over people that they saw creating like a logistical framework for the week of action is nuts and they're making our point for us. On Friday the word came out that Tortugita had bullet holes through both of their palms and that they were more than likely sitting cross leg with their hands up when they were shot by police. And now we are supposed to be convinced that these people that lied about this killed somebody that was absolutely no threat to them on the same grounds that they're trying to build this police training facility were supposed to believe that this is going to make them less violent towards people like as you're building a militarized police training facility and like people that try to convince themselves that these is going to be a place where people are also being taught de escalation. While everything around that is militarized it's like if you had somebody build a water park and you're like oh yeah I'm just trying to stay dry I don't want to get splashed anything like that. And it's like oh no no no don't worry we have a food court right in the middle of it and it's great you're really just coming there for the food court so don't worry about it. And then like you go there and then you get splashed what were you expecting like that's obviously not what that facilities for because all the infrastructure around it is made to be a water park or militarized police training facility so don't be surprised when maybe they might have one de escalation program and like you know where the food court would be and then somebody gets killed right because they're actually building the infrastructure for killing. So that's where we're at. This week of action has shown a lot about how the police are operating post the 2020 uprising how they will respond to people exercising their first amendment right and the indiscriminate way that police will respond to any act of protest. One of the main takeaways from this week is that their response to protest is deployed against people without target or focus. They care very little if you are breaking a window or if you're marching on the sidewalk they're still going to send the SWAT team police are acting as if they are entirely incapable of differentiating between acts of dissent toward the end of the week I sat down and talked with an unnamed forest defender to get their thoughts on the week of action for security reasons we did a vocal replacement. The police presence has been pretty unprecedented I haven't seen shit like that here since 2020 not downtown at least I mean shit I don't think we had seen gas in Atlanta in a minute and then they gas the forest it been a while but yeah I mean they're punching out especially like Tuesday they were putting out 152 hundred cops in the entirety of downtown I mean multi-jurisdictional task forces deployed multiple different Atlanta APD SWAT teams between like regular APD SWAT and apex which is like the drug and gang interdiction unit. I mean a fucking whole drone unit GSP some weird unmarked cars that I won't speculate on helicopters all that shit you know the type of police response you would expect to see in like a dystopian fucking police state for some people handing out flyers that just say this is bad for the environment doesn't matter how milk toast or not and like I shouldn't say milk toast like that's not a bad thing we need people to go hand out flyers we need to inform people as far as what this is to get people involved but like as non-violence you can get and still they're going to treat you like you're fucking out of the kind of you know and it puts you in a weird position because then it's like okay cool if you're going to treat us the exact same for being non violent why not to crime if the police response to an assault on an outpost that drove the police out and burn five things down the police response to 15 people handing out flyers downtown are going to be about the same then why not take more militant radical action. The 23 people arrested on Sunday March 5th were not arrested as anyone was torching equipment they were not arrested at the power line cut it was people who are attending a music festival arrests were not widely targeted against people who police knew were engaged in property destruction they were targeted against anyone the cops could grab same was the case at the January 21st action where people were marching downtown the Saturday after tour to geto was killed. The only people arrested and subsequently charged with domestic terrorism was anyone the police could get their hands on officers went after people who were carrying banners the entire duration of the March it was not targeted against people who were engaged in militant action. Among all this talk of police repression and multiple raids it's easy to overlook that throughout the week people still sought opportunities for finding joy in resistance because most people wouldn't dedicate years of their life to this if it was just miserable battles with police the whole time. I think one thing that's been lost in all of this to is all of the light harder events that have continued gone through the week and like the joy of the movement that was represented in the bouncy castle rip. But that joy is continuing in the woods like people are people still continue to camp in the woods people are still having dinner in the woods people are still having campfire people are still talking the woods it is still a place that people are gathering at and are enjoying each other is company and now enjoying the woods and it is it is a place that the morale has never been fully crushed the morale has never been fully crushed and like the participatory acts of the week of action are continuing like none of that has been quashed an example of the joyful continuous resistance during the week of action can be found at the youth rally that happened on Saturday the 11th. This is the first time we've had a large march like this take to the streets because every action that was in downtown or mid-ten Atlanta was so heavily surveilled by police who were not letting anyone get near the street at all. But there's no police here. They were busy doing the search warrant. So this group is actually able to take to the streets. It's like everyone kind of in this area of Atlanta is pretty pro. Pro this little protest here. There's like workers from the little shops and stores nodding along. Full and county shares just walk by the march. Like on their just, you know, off-shifts, workout routine, wearing full and county gear. That's pretty funny. People dancing in the streets. Families walking with their kids through the streets. All right. I'm walking around the park that the youth rally started at. And the press conference about the raid this morning just ended at. There's, as you can probably hear, kids playing in the park. People are handing out food. Massive, massive amount of food just in the middle of the park. With like all these tables set up. Overall, this is kind of one of the more joyous events that we've had since the initial Saturday rally at Gresham Park. Just with the amount of food, the amount of kids just running around and playing. All of all the information tables that are handing out literature. And giving, you know, making connections with people. Yeah. When I was down here in January, the mood was very somber. The mood was very grim. Like coming to the vigil when there was the destroyed remains of the gazebo. The torn up parking lot. All of the trees in there, still within there like winter state, with all of the leaves gone, everything was very kind of barren. And the first thing I noticed on Saturday as we were marching is like, there's new life springing in the woods. There's this invigorated sense of the almost assurance of victory that people are carrying with them as they take action. And I think that really does change what the action you take is. And that does change the types of results that people will see. Is if they go at this with the idea that we are going to win this. And I think that that is kind of why the nonviolent direct actions have become like, have moved to the fore, right? When you think that you're going to lose and you have nothing to lose, you engage in these incredibly radical actions because what else are you going to do? Yeah. And then when you have this belief that, no, we can win, we just have to find that pathway. And that is a part of the diversity of tactics. Is using both of those. And almost every ecological movement that's been successful has demonstrated that the pathway to success is often paved with a diversity of tactics, with people doing nonviolent action at noon, which will pull a massive militarized police response as people are doing regular ass shit. And then a part of diversity of tactics is also people leaving a music festival to go towards Shoboldozer. And both of those things are a diversity of tactics. Now, I stand by most of that statement. However, issues can arise when there is a ticking clock. And during the time spent looking for this pathway, the enemy meanwhile is making steady progress. Issues may also arise when a large diversity of tactics is shoved under just one roof. I had a lot of conversations with movement participants regarding the direct action that happened on Sunday night and how it cast a shadow of repression over the whole week of action. To synthesize the many conversations, in general, most people thought that what physically happened was good. The actual actions at the Northgate were successful and justified. But there are other things on the periphery of that action that make it slightly more complicated. And now we can have lots of questions about tactics and cost benefit analysis about that action, which I did not think it would be wise, especially being so visible for me to have to be anywhere near on that day. We can have questions about that. But what was for certain was that the way in which the police responded was absurd. And predictably so. Now with the destruction that I saw, it cost them less than a million dollars and maybe like two weeks actually of construction that they were pushed back. Max, these are like max numbers. Was that worth 23 people being arrested and quouching what could have been a larger occupation and wider participation and wider buying in the movement instead? By the time we got to Monday, the clergy was having to do cleanup rather than like cast division of what the world could be. And so these are trade-offs, right? Where even though we have to be very clear about what a diversity of tactics means, and also a separation of time and space. So, I mean, we can't just look at a diversity of tactics and everybody does what they want as if they're operating in a silo. Rather, we give space for one another to do different things that may work respectful of the fact that some of our actions may affect one another. In the lead up to the week of action, nighttime sabotage actions decreased around Atlanta in favor of these big public demos during daylight that seemed to result in more people getting arrested. And one of the results of Sunday's action in such close proximity to the festival and the encampments is that the people at the festival and in the woods who did not consent to participating in a high-profile direct action got disproportionately hit with the immediate repression from police. A lot of the people who were arrested were completely unaware of the actions that took place at the North Gate. Even if those actions were 100% justified in the end, it still creates a dynamic with an unequal distribution of police violence. Now, obviously, the woods are an inherently dangerous place to be and people are not responsible for actions that police choose to take. But there are still considerations to be had regarding the proximity of space and time when engaging in more risky actions and how the consequences of those actions may affect people who did not consent to participating in actions at other locations. Especially when people are lulled into a false sense of safety by claiming that police have never cracked down hard in the forest during previous weeks of action. Yeah, in terms of the actions done Sunday in reference to a group of people assaulting a police position driving them out with force and then burning their shit, that was all good and we should not denounce that or step away from it. It only harms the movement to back away from radical action and act like there are definitions of good or bad protesters because eventually the logical conclusion of that is snitching and that only furthers like the GBI's motivations to tear the movement apart. What went wrong Sunday is a result of two things. It's one that the police use indiscriminate violence when people beat them. They were beaten. They got angry and they were beaten because they got their shit rocked by fireworks and then they used indiscriminate violence against people who they knew were on the side of like where the events were. That weren't where all the militants were coming back from. They didn't want to go up against those people because they're cowards. And second, because of how big the movement's gotten over the past two years, the strategy of the weeks of action has stagnated. It's made it so work, so compact in a singular week that when you have all of the diversity of tactics that exist within the Atlanta Forest and Stop Cop City, with how big everything is now, they start to step on each other's toes. They can hurt each other sometimes because, yeah, not everyone who was at the RC field was like ready for the consequences of like a militant radical action like that. And that doesn't mean that the action wasn't good or justified because the action was wildly successful. There were no resmate at that action. There were a resmate when the police got angry and used indiscriminate violence because they were pissed off and they wanted to riot. So they retaliated at a music festival that was happening nearby? Yes, and that's the fault of nobody but the police. That's not the fault of the people who went and assaulted that outpost. That's only the fault of the police and really the fault of a bad long term strategy of two heavily compacting factors of, you know, being just like a week and where. Making it so this movement where people can take radical action, it feels so limited to just inside the forest because it puts people in harm's way and that put people in harm's way, including the people who, you know, went and did the thing on Sunday. But no, it would be wrong as the movement to like bulk out a radical action like that. Radical action like that is such a big part of why this movement has been as successful as it has been. It's a huge part of why the police didn't do like a full sweep or a larger sweep or a series of raids in the following days because they were afraid that those 300 to 400 people who hit that outpost were lying and waiting in the forest, ready to attack them because they were afraid of militant radical action. On Thursday, when I was in front of the APF building, I could like hear some of the supervisors and coordinators talking about being scared of ambushes or like being scared of splinter groups, like being staged to attack officers. It's, it's bizarre how fearful they are of the types of people who are opposing the cop city project. They're the most afraid of the people who are willing to go do physical violence to them and not even physical violence, but people who are just willing to like throw a rocket at them or like a firework once they realize that they haven't paralyzed somebody with fear. Once they realize that they've not made you so afraid of taking action, they become such cowards. In the aftermath of the police killing forest defender Tortegita, law enforcement agencies tried to claim that Tortegita shot at them first, leaving one officer injured. But recently released findings from multiple autopsy have cast more doubt on the state's version of events. On the afternoon of Friday, March 10th towards the end of the week of action, the family of Tortegita released the findings of an independent autopsy done by former GBI chief medical examiner, Dr. Chris Sparry. The results suggested that Tortegita was sitting cross-legged with their hands in front of their face when shot and bullet exit wounds through the palms of both of their hands. The family ordered autopsy also did not find any evidence of gunshot residue from a GSR test kit. And then a month later, DeCab County released the results of their official autopsy, which found at least 57 bullet wounds across Tortegita's body. And according to this autopsy, Tort did not have any gunpowder residue on its hands. Then a few days later via a public records request, the Atlanta Community Press Collective received the gunshot residue test kit from the Georgia Bureau of Investigations Crime Lab. The document contained the names of six Georgia State Patrol SWAT members who shot and killed Tortegita. Brieland L. Myers, Jerry A. Parrish, Jonathan Salceda, Jonathan Mark Lam, Ronaldo Kegel, and Royce Zaw. With Zaw being the subject of a lawsuit after he shot a protester in the face with a less lethal round during the George Floyd protests in May of 2020. The document also included the results of the GBI's Crime Lab report claiming that they found, quote, the presence of more than five particles characteristic of gunshot primer residue, unquote, from a test kit. With the report also stating, quote, it should be noted that it is possible for a victim of gunshot wounds to have G.S.R. present on their hands, unquote. Considering that among the more than 57 gunshot wounds were entrance and exit wounds on Tortegita's hands, which could be cause for gunshot residue if the Crime Lab findings are genuine, the findings do not point to any specific interpretation of events as it's not unusual to find primer residue on the hands of the gunshot wounds. The National Guardies Report was translated to thesee. And it's in one case. So the problem is, it does not include a guilty thinking. That's why the system cannot be considered a jurist chemist, foc老 auch, or wasn't born on a true term. But, the Black Marbles side of the days spoken of was essentially an execution. Instant reports obtained via public records requests also revealed that GSP fired a quote-unquote Leslie Thulpepperball gun at Tortugita's tent as a SWAT initially approached, once again contradicting the claims made by GBI officials in the months since the killing. As the week came to a close, on Sunday, March 11, a memorial service for Tortugita was held in the Wallani forest, where Tortugita's family spread their ashes in the forest it died to protect. I attended the Sunday morning memorial. The sky opened up and poured down rain in South Atlanta throughout the whole morning. Hundreds of people gathered in Wallani People's Park to light candles under a canopy and hear from Tort's family. Then led by Tortugita's mother, we walked through the forest to the site of the shooting, where a banner hung that read, quote, on this ground, GSP assassinated forest defender, comrade, friend, lover, Tortugita unquote. Family and friends spread Tortugita's ashes throughout the woods along the path. To quote Candace Burned in Truth Out, in contrast to its tumultuous start, Sunday's vigil and ceremony provided a somber and heartfelt close to the fifth week of action. I met up with Matthew Johnson after the memorial to discuss the week of action, and we briefly touched on the memorial in the forest. I think that we have to hold space for very real grief. We lost a friend. And at the same time, just two days ago on Friday, what we always knew to be true was found to clearly be true. Tortugita was murdered, and we have to bear the breath of that pain. And all the people in power lied and even gave their condolences to a state trooper that seemed as if he was shut by a state trooper. And did not say a mumbling word to even acknowledge our friend's existence and the value of their life. And this morning was beautiful. I had been able to meet Bilky's Tortugita's mother previously. And she really does have a beautiful spirit. I've really grown appreciation for that family. And just to see just how large these gatherings were, like throughout the week, even in spite of the hoopla and the opening weekend, it was very encouraging. But in a lot of ways, Tortugita has become the face of this movement because they really did light up wherever they were. One thing that's got me through this thinking about when you were just sealing some time, let me just give you the biggest, cheesiest smile. I don't know where. And that got me through the first week after their passing. But I have grown a great appreciation for that family because in so many ways, Tortugita is their hero and just to learn how consistent they were. There's such a welcoming and loving and caring person just been so much. I mean, to know that this wasn't something new that they had stumbled upon. They had lived this whole life of caring and making space for others. Some of Tort's friends have raised concerns that a side effect of Tort unwittingly becoming the face of the movement is that the details around their death have eclipsed some of what they died fighting for. In doing so, stripping Tort of their individuality and removing their own agency to turn them into this perfect, liberal, friendly avatar of the movement to simply be used as a political tool and add to a list of demands. There's a thing that's been happening more and more recently that I've been bothered by, which is when organizations, specifically, more liberal organizations are invoking Tort's name at actions. They're misgendering the hell out of them and it's alienating a lot of people. And I understand that Sunday's action alienated a lot of liberal orgs. This is a problem with the week of action type strategy, with the diversity of tactics all being forced under one roof, but we cannot stand to alienate each other. And it's really frustrating and really angering to see this really beautiful soul be flattened into just a murder that these liberals want them to be. Stripping them of so much of their life and what was a revolutionary life and a revolutionary death into just murder them by taking away their identity who they were and making them nothing more than someone who was murdered. When they were someone who was living such a full and beautiful life until the day they died, and this movement will tear itself apart if we do not accept the fullness of Tort's life, what it stood for and what they live for. This movement has always been built on a lot of trans people in the woods, fucking the cops up. And if we alienate those people, we're fucked. There's no winning and we can't lose. We don't have a choice about this anymore. We have to win by any means necessary. That will wrap up our day to day coverage of the entire week of action. But much has happened in the intervening two months. So in the next episode, we'll cover where the movement is now, discuss the future of the fight to stop cop city, and offer a more critical retrospective on the fifth week of action. See you on the other side. Music Festival Audio, courtesy of Unicorn Riot. Thrills, chills and laughs are bigger when you save with undercover tourists. Enjoy the most fun you'll have all summer and save up to $166 per ticket to Universal Orlando Resort. Plus save up to $82 per ticket for Walt Disney World. Just visit A 365 day money back guarantee is what you get from undercover tourist and authorized seller. Plus book your hotel and rental cart and save even more. What are you waiting for? For the best TV viewing experience, witness the coziest maroons, the most vibrant and brightest moons, the areas and darkest tomes, and radiant and vivid hues in any type of room with the Neo QLED and OLED TVs by Sam Sum. We're supposed to say Samsung, but that didn't rhyme. So you're welcome. Sam Sum, more wow than ever. $25 all in tickets to over 3,800 shows. Concert week is going on now through May 16th. It's the best time to get tickets to see all your favorite artists like Beck and Phoenix, Big Time Rush, All-Out Boy, Janet Jackson, Country Wayne, Shania Twain, Snoop Dogg, and many more. With $25 all in tickets, you can fill your year with shows. So get your friends and grab your $25 all in tickets. Now through May 16th, head to slash concert week. That's slash concert week. Welcome back to It Could Happen Here. This is a bonus fifth episode following my coverage of the Stopcop City Week of Action in March of 2023. This will be a more critical retrospective on the week as a whole and offer a glimpse into what the movement might look like in the next few months as we are rapidly approaching summer. In the last episode, we talked about the police repression of protests and demonstrations as they happen. But we have yet to mention the various methods of state repression the movement is facing day to day. Repression for the week of action started well before the kickoff rally in Greshroom Park. Emails from early February obtained via public records requests found that the Atlanta Police Foundation and its contractors were waiting for quote, indictments to the leaders, unquote, of the stop cop city and defend the Atlanta Forest movement to quote the Atlanta Community Press collective in a February 3rd email to APF board members. The director of public affairs Rob Baskin calls the defend the Atlanta Forest and stop cop city movement a quote conspiracy of protesters against the public safety training center investigated by a consortium of federal state and local law enforcement agencies, unquote, Baskin promised the APF board in an email quote that the recent arrests are receipt of the land disturbance permit. The mayor's announcement of the project will be moving forward and the continued investigation by law enforcement will dampen activist's efforts. We will likely see more indictments in the coming weeks, unquote. Back in February, breast field and gory, the general contractor for the project planned to mobilize for land clearing around April, but told the Atlanta Police Foundation that some contractor bidding wouldn't happen, quote, until indictments have happened, unquote. And then, of course, a few weeks later, 23 people were charged with domestic terrorism at a music festival. Matt from the Atlanta Community Press collective talked about the history of domestic terrorism charges in the movement and how they affected bail proceedings. The domestic terrorism charges go back to like the middle of December. That's when the first of them happened. And up until the week of action, there have been a total of 19 arrests or individuals who have been charged with domestic terrorism. And then of those people, anyone who did not have either a Georgia license or could not prove like Georgia residency, they were all initially denied bond. But everyone who lives here, they were able to get bond. Before the bond hearing, we're kind of, there are discussions that there's no way that they're going to hold 23 people without bond, on such flimsy evidence. That's the most people that have been arrested and held in one day. It's in relation to the movement so far. Yeah, the largest mass arrest of the movement. So it's kind of inconceivable for 23 people to be held without bond. So we get to the bail hearing, the first person has their mother come on, their lawyer brings their mother on who swears essentially on like every religious text ever written that her child will immediately go home with her and she will personally bring her child back to every court hearing and her child will have no further contact with the movement and all of these things and the judge denies the bond. So at that point, it's like, okay, they're, you know, I guess we're going to go back to the old thing if you can't prove residency, you're not getting out. It was like person number five is from Athens, Georgia, which is about an hour outside of Atlanta. And the judge denies her bond, not because the judge thinks she's a flight risk, but because she is a threat to the community. And that was the moment where the understanding changed and was like, oh no, like nobody's getting out of this. Yeah, this isn't, this isn't a real, this isn't a real bond here. At the press conference after the leaf raid, Kamau Franklin from the community movement builders spoke about the years of state repression against people fighting to stop cop city. This movement has been repressed by the state, by the city, such as very beginnings, where we first started organizing in 2021, where we had rallies and demonstrations. We would have police, break them up, throw people to the ground, pepper spray them, and arrest them. We had over 20 arrests in our first years of rallying and demonstrating against cop city. At the time, those folks were charged with resisting arrests, obstruction of governmental administration. And then the police decided to step up their tactics. And they started to form a task force, a task force that included the Atlanta police, the Decap County police, the Georgia Bureau of Investigation, Georgia State Chupers, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, and Homeland Security. Where they began to talk about bringing charges of domestic terrorism against organizers and activists. And so now we're coming to a point where they're raiding houses. Where they're telling organizers and activists that they can't stand on corners and legally get out leaflets. And then the judge kept saying, like, I'm not here to hear anything on evidentiary claims. And I'm not here to engage with the domestic terrorism statute. Like both of those were, I think, very valid things that defense attorneys kept bringing up because they're problematic. Yeah, one of the defense attorneys mentioned that the way people are being charged with domestic terrorism right now doesn't really have any legal basis in the state of Georgia, because the terrorism law works as like an enhancement for other felonious charges. And these people aren't being charged with anything besides domestic terrorism. There's no evidence these people committed any actual crimes. So they're just being charged with terrorism. This is like a nebulous concept. The judge said that the legal basis of these claims will have to be decided on another day. Similarly, they said that in regards to like actual evidence that these people charged did any crimes. She said that she had none of this evidence in front of her and that evidence is for another day. One of the main reasons the judge said that defendants were denied bond was due to quote, a lack of ties to community in Atlanta. But regarding this ties to the community aspect, the judge had this weird double standard. There was this one person arrested and charged who lives with their partner in Atlanta, who also had ties to another state where they had previously lived. So despite them having ties to the community in Atlanta, which was one of the main things the judge considered, for this one individual, they were still denied bond on the basis that this individual also has ties to a different community, thus deeming them a flight risk, even though they currently live in Atlanta. One of the reasons that the judge mentioned, based on the arrest warrants that she was given for why these people were threatened to take the community is that the state claims that they were in possession of metal shields as they were being arrested. You know, shields, the the offensive weapon that that shows that you're a threat, you holding a shield. And so first of all, that's that's funny on us on that on that level. When you and I were coming in on Saturday, and along with the March, we passed by a bunch of shields, right? And they were kind of placed near the end of the path, like in anticipation that there might be police presence. And I took pictures of the shields and they are evidently plastic shields. There's no way of mistaking them for anything other than plastic. The plastic five gallon shields that you see at almost every protest in every city across the country, the cops know what these things are. The fact that they claim that people were arrested carrying metal shields is so ludicrous because there was not there was not a single metal shield at this music festival. And there's a lot of footage of these arrests. I don't there's I've not seen evidence that every that any person was arrested that was carrying a shield let alone a metal one. There's this weird thing where so typically when you do these these bail hearings, the defense attorneys wave the reading of the warrant. Typically because they have already gone over that with their client and you know everybody's aware and it just kind of speeds up the process. And it was like really notable that these attorneys weren't doing it. And once you started to listen to them, you notice this very repetitive nature of them. And so about halfway through, we get to a lawyer who straight up calls out the fact that these warrants seem like they were just copy pasted for like every single person all the way down line. During the first hearing, only one person was let out on bail and they were an NLG legal observer and lawyer at the Southern Poverty Law Center. After the week of action on March 23rd, there were a second set of bail hearings for 10 of the people arrested on March 5th at the South River Music Festival. In a rare move, the second in command of the state of Georgia's attorney general's office, John Fowler, was deployed to argue against granting bond. Fowler along with several top county prosecutors weaved a complex narrative of a grand conspiracy of protesters dating back to 2019 saying that the quote unquote organization behind defend the forest is responsible for quote 100 incidents nation wide unquote. Fowler claimed that the forest defenders are a well-funded group with millions of dollars hiding behind 501 C3 nonprofit organizations and at the so-called autonomous zone at the Wendy's where Ray Shard Brooks was murdered in 2020 is a part of the same organization. Fowler also tempted to tie the use of laser pointers in the forest to a racial justice protests in 2020 as well as a sophisticated communication network of prepaid phones, telegram channels, proton emails and rise up accounts. Prosecutor Lens Cross stated that the quote unquote leader of the defend the land of forest movement never actually goes into the forest. Huh, okay, so to paraphrase a friend of mine as potentially dangerous as claims like these are, it will never stop being funny that the state just simply cannot conceive of horizontal organizing as like a real thing that exists and not just a smoke screen for this shadowy cabal of protesters. Prosecutor Lens Cross claimed that anyone at the music festival is a party to the crime of the direct action that took place around one and a half kilometers away at the construction site and that after the direct action individuals left to return to the other side of the woods crossing over the creek and changing out of their black block. For the first defendant at this hearing, prosecutor Cross said that there's police helicopter video of this first person changing out of their black block. But when asked by the judge if the state has any evidence that this defendant did anything legal, not just change clothing and a forest, the prosecutor was unable to provide any such evidence. This defendant received a $25,000 bond with a stay away from Georgia order and a no contact order with any co-defendants or anyone associated with the defend the Atlanta Forest movement. Only one other defendant was granted bond during this hearing, a second year lost student who was arrested as they were eating food at a food truck. At the hearing, they presented letters of support from Tibetan monks, a former mayor, numerous academics, and Charlotte's mayor pro-tem was on the call. Bond was also set at 25k, along with having to surrender their passport, wear an ankle monitor and maintain no contact with co-defendants nor join any future protests. To paraphrase my friend again, these are old green scare tactics back in action and kicked into high gear. Courts are being used as a meat cleaver to hack off and isolate people from their communities regardless of evidence. This is the type of repression that courts were born to do. Much of the repression we're seeing in Atlanta is a revamped version of the green scare with additional tactics and knowledge the state gained from the 2020 protests, including the targeting of jail support and bail fund organizations. Another thread in this grand cabal of forest defenders narrative that the state was trying to weave was that prosecutors claimed that having an Atlanta solidarity fund, jail support number on your person is evidence of criminal intent, and that the solidarity fund is, quote, being investigated as a part of this whole thing, unquote. The majority of the eight individuals denied Bond were not even found to be at the site of the direct action and none of the eight individuals had any evidence against them showing they committed any crime at that location, but were still deemed a risk to the community and denied bond. Being held against them is the fact that they had a jail support number on their person as former communications director at the Southern Center for Human Rights, Hannah Riley said it is a gross irony that a jail support number is being framed as evidence of intent to commit crimes, where in fact, it's evidence that we live in a horrifying police estate. A defense attorney pointed out that all of the warrants had the same bits of evidence copy pasted, like this alleged possession of a metal shield to which the prosecution claimed this was simply a typo, meaning that people were being held in jail based on typos and also the prosecutor responded by saying, quote, they were 30, 40, 50 shields out there. I can't attest that he was carrying one when referring to a specific defendant. For one individual denied Bond, prosecutors claimed that they were an anarchist based on information provided by customs and border protection. And yet no evidence of criminal acts were presented. Extra scrutiny was put on two defendants who were foreign nationals with prosecutors wondering how someone from out of country could possibly know the solidarity fund a jail support number. A defense attorney tried to point out that jail support numbers are often passed out to everyone present at protests by volunteers. And in the case of the circumstances regarding the raid of the music festival, panicked concert goers were instructed to write down the jail support number as it became clear that police were indiscriminately grabbing people. Depity Attorney General Fowler argued that wearing black clothes at a protest is akin to wearing a football uniform, indicating a player was part of the team who took to the field during the game. And even if we may not know they carried the football, we do know that they were on the field, which I don't even want to get into. But it is still a fact that the majority of people were denied Bond because some had black clothing, mud on their shoes and ran from police. This is what made them a quote unquote threat to our community. And this is the evidence being used against people who were allegedly engaged in domestic terrorism. Near the end of the hearing, the judge claimed that everyone is presumed innocent and that the state does have to bear the burden of proof beyond a reasonable doubt at some point, but not now during this bail hearing. One of the claims was that the reason why people were arrested is because they had mud on their clothes. The night before the festival started, there was a tornado warning in Atlanta. I forgot about that. And there was rain, which makes... I don't know if the prosecutors know this, but when rain mixes with dirt, they create something called that we refer to as mud. So when people are at this music festival in a field full of dirt, they might get mud on their clothes. And yeah, so if you've ever been to a music festival, standing around for a very long period of time, really annoying, people like to sit down. So my feet were caked in mud and I sat down a few times. My talk of buttons are still caked in mud. Not to mention the parking lot completely torn up covered in mud. And as I mentioned earlier, the person having like fill in mud all along the trails with gravel. So there's mud everywhere. And it is an inescapable fact of just being in both the forest and the festival. At the time of the bail hearings, they've very clearly had no evidence linking individuals to crimes so the best they could come up with was metal shields and mud. Two things that are completely nonsense. There was no there was no metal shields. And oh wow, you have mud on your you have mud on your clothing. This is why you're a terrorist. During the hearing, a defense lawyer alleged that the 12 people who were detained at the music festival, but not arrested and were later released at Gresham Park were all from Atlanta. And by releasing these 12 locals, police can claim that the people arrested were from 14 different states, which is obviously part of an attempt to continue accelerating the outside agitator narrative that they've been pushing out since last December. Of the 23 who were charged, only two had the Georgia licenses, the person from Athens and the legal observer. The rest were out of state and two were out of country. So at one point during the proceedings, the the the bail proceedings, one of the lawyers says that from what they understand, the 12 individuals who were let go Sunday night all had in state licenses. So it does appear that that APD released people to continue this this outside agitator narrative that they have been using for for months now since since since May since early summer. Prosecutor Cross responded to claims that detained local Atlantins were let go by saying that the people released were interviewed did not have the jail support number on their arm and quote unquote new little about the movement. At a press conference, Marlin from the Solidarity Fund talked about how repression has taken form and concerns of what other tactics the state may try to employ. No evidence has been presented to support any of these claims of domestic terrorism, including on the other 18 people who've been given this charge previously in this movement. Police and prosecutors are not involved in a law enforcement effort. They're involved in a political campaign to suppress a political movement which they find objectionable because as the police they have a vested interest in the construction of cop city. From a civil liberties perspective, we find this very concerning. We find it to be an abuse of power and we're committed to ensuring that all of the activists who are targeted have access to the legal resources that they need not only to defend themselves from these bogus charges but also to pursue civil litigation against police who have abused their power and violated people's rights. We are concerned about the possibility that prosecutors may try to use Rico charges against organizers because Rico is understood as a way of suppressing organizations and the narrative that we've seen coming from police and prosecutors is their belief that the broad and diverse cop city movement is in fact a criminal conspiracy whose members conspire to commit acts of terrorism. This could not be further from the truth. This is like a clear misrepresentation of a broad movement that encompasses all of society but this is the narrative that prosecutors are trying to promulgate to make it easier to target activists. In the intervening month and a half, five more people were let out on bond. Then on May 3rd, a series of preliminary hearings took place for the last three people being held into cab county jail from amongst the 23 individuals arrested at the music festival and charged with domestic terrorism. Before the changes to the law in 2017, the state of Georgia required 10 or more people to be killed for domestic terrorism charges to even be filed. During a wave of anti-protest bills while citing racially motivated mass shootings to get the bill passed, the state of Georgia removed any death threshold and essentially replaced it with references to property damage. To quote a write up by the Atlantic Community Pres collective, quote, the cab county magistrate judge James Altman explained that he decided whether to uphold the charges based on two criteria. The first was whether prosecutors provided enough evidence to satisfy the conditions set forth in the Georgia domestic terrorism statute, namely the threat to critical infrastructure. The second criteria prosecutors needed to meet was identification or their ability to show that the defendants were each a party to the alleged crimes committed on March 5th. Unquote. And it's worth noting that the threshold for probable cause is much lower than the threshold needed to convict someone of a crime. In opening arguments, assistant DA Lance Cross claims that defend the forced activists are well-funded and quote, have a pretty good propaganda arm on social media. And that doing direct action while chanting stop cop city, qualifies activists to be charged under the Georgia domestic terrorism statute because it's using violence to advocate change of government policy. Judge Altman found that the first criteria of the domestic terrorism charges were met for all three defendants on the basis that setting fires at the construction site in such close proximity to a power line tower was an attack on critical infrastructure, even if the defendants did not themselves start any fires. Georgia Bureau of investigation, special agent Ryan Long testified that the entire music festival was cover for the direct action against the construction site. Even without evidence of defendants in black block or proof that they engaged in any destructive acts, assistant DA Cross said that everyone at the site was enabling the destruction of the property and as such is party to the crime due to the assertion that the alleged crimes were only possible due to the large size of the crowd. One of the state's witnesses, a sergeant of the APD, said that he wouldn't be able to recognize anyone who is at the site and that he could not tell if the defendant was even in the crowd of people at the Northgate, let alone through rocks or set fires. Defense argued that mere presence at a location should not be automatic aiding and abetting, but Judge Altman said there was sufficient evidence presented showing the acts of the crowd and that the defendant's presence is at least sufficient for being party to the crime, even by simply participating at the music festival. One of the hearings was for the indigenous person who was tased at the music festival, who was specifically witnessed to be there during the duration of the direct action. Under questioning from the defense, special agent Long said that the defendant was not visible on the helicopter footage of the incident after initially suggesting that the defendant was identified by a helicopter pilot. Long ruled that back by saying he was unsure if the chopper was able to track the defendant and then had to leave to go make a few calls to get a more definitive answer which he failed to provide. But the judge still found that the second criteria of identification was sufficient to find two of the defendants at least party to the actions at the construction site. Special agent Long testified that there is a quote-unquote command structure in the stop-cop city movement and described the movement as a pyramid scheme created by activists with different names like stop-cop city and defend the forest to act as little different subgroups to attract new subordinate members to operate to under leadership. Long asserted that activists pretend to be ecologists one day and then anarchists the next to further their cause. Which once again we have to point out is on one hand a dangerous thing to claim on the other hand extremely funny. Social media posts were brought up by prosecutors as evidence linking defendants to criminal acts and a conspiracy of terrorism. During the first hearing, special agent Long claimed that they knew that the defendant was at the construction site due to street pull camera footage and social media posts allegedly made by the defendant's friend. In another hearing agent Long claimed that on the defendant's social media there were posts of stop-cop city banners and flyers demonstrating an awareness of the nature of the stop-cop city movement. The state also cited alleged social media posts of the defendant self-describing as anti-capitalist and anti-colonial as proof of criminal intent. Near the end of the last hearing, Judge Altman said that social media posts do not count towards probable cause. However, the framing of social media posts by prosecutors as an indication of guilt is still cause for alarm and what gets admitted as evidence during trial is still yet to be determined. When the prosecution asked if a defendant had a jail support number on their arm, the judge noted that quote, the existence or non-existence of an organization doesn't really seem to me as an element of the crime. Unquote. Similar to the March 23rd hearings, Prosecutor Johnson tried to argue that the Solidarity Fund and jail support is an arm of the stop-cop city movement to which the judge reiterated that participation in an alleged organization is not part of the crime of domestic terrorism. For one defendant, the judge granted bond on the conditions of $25,000 bail with the defendant having to turn over her passport, a no contact order with other co-defendants and no participation in discussion of stop-cop city on social media. Bond for the other two defendants was denied. Ultimately, Judge Altman upheld the domestic terrorism charges against all three defendants. On the low barrier of evidence sufficient for ruling probable cause, Judge Altman said that quote, whether it gets any further than that is not my problem. Unquote. And that if the DA wanted further charges brought against defendants, he must use a grand jury as the judge did not find probable cause for arson or assault on an officer. Judge Altman mentioned that he was concerned about alleged witness intimidation by members of the Defendery Forest movement. Meanwhile, in the adjacent Fulton County, there was also a preliminary hearing for one of the six people arrested at the protest in downtown Atlanta on January 21st, the Saturday following the killing of Tortugita. Judge Ashley Drake upheld a total of eight charges, including one of domestic terrorism, and the next day the defendant was released on bail. One thing of note from this hearing is that Deputy Attorney General John Fowler compared the Defender Forest movement to 9-11 by saying, quote, protesters were trying to knock out the windows of one nine one peach tree street. That is a dangerous situation. That's a twin towers. Unquote. When talking about the various hearings, I mentioned helicopter and street pull camera footage of the direct action on Sunday that both prosecutors and the defense were using to support their claims. And I think it's worth diving a bit deeper into specifically the police helicopter footage, since I like keeping up with the methods that police are using to surveil and suppress protest. I'm going to start by letting Atlanta Police Chief Darren Shearbomb walk us through what was able to be observed via helicopter mounted cameras based on his testimony during the city council meeting that took place less than 24 hours after the incident. Individuals were seeing changing out of the clothes that they were wearing at the concert, and were now dressing themselves in all black, with backpacks, with items, offensive nature approaching. What we saw is this group move rather quickly to the site for the proposed public safety training center. They move quickly on the group of officers that were assembled there. These officers had been stationary at the site, protecting the location. In the first line, there are individuals with shields that are forming. The officers attempted to first de-escalate by repositioning themselves. Thank you. Repositioning themselves inside of the fence in area. The officers again start to reposition because they can tell this is not a peaceful demonstration. She just start to see smoke occurring as fires or sets, Moltov cocktails are thrown and fireworks are discharged from our area unit that is deployed in the area. You will see individuals that are started to move against the officers. They will have start throwing rocks, fireworks, as they are pushing the officers in the area. Where we see individuals as another group is engaging the officers with rocks, Moltov cocktails and bottles are moving to set fire to the various equipment that are in the area. What you see in the left hand of the gentleman with the mask of his face is a Moltov cocktail. It is being, there will be accelerance in his hands that will be used also to attack some of the construction equipment that is in the area. These individuals are masked, hide their identity. This is playing out across the area that had previously been fenced in. There will be generators that will be destroyed. Other pieces of equipment that is being destroyed, there you see more accelerant being thrown onto the vehicle that is being set on fire. What you see here, ladies and gentlemen, is as some of the individuals that had just previously attacked the work site, returned back into the woods, they start changing back into the clothes that they were just wearing moments before as they were portraying themselves to be attendees of the event that was occurring in the music. So it was clear today that we saw repeat of what we have seen in the past where events that are shown to be peaceful and to being publicized as to be peaceful are being used by individuals as cover to launch illegal and criminal attacks. We had a rapid response from our partners at the Decap County Police Department, the Sheriff of Fulton County, as well as the Georgia State Patrol. Those officers entered into the woods as individuals were attempting to flee, hide the weapons they had just used as well as to change their clothing, and we began to make a number of arrests. I spoke with the unnamed forest defender about the surveillance capabilities of the state on full display during the week of action. I find that the thermal helicopter video fascinating for a variety of reasons. One, it's interesting to look at the surveillance capacity of the state. It's to my memory the first time the APD has ever posted their own thermal chopper footage. It's a very similar camera to the type you would see on a bi-ractor on some kind of armed unmanned aerial vehicle. What I found most interesting about the thermals is exactly how they were using that type of targeting software to track people. And I think it's worth people knowing what they were doing with it, so we have an idea how to counter it. When you're using a software to track targets on an optical lens, at least during a daytime event, thermals are easier because it breaks the image up into just two colors, white and then black and gray, so they can track the body heat shapes of people in white, and then just click the thermals off, get a snapshot of the outfit they're wearing, click the thermals back on, and track them easier than it is to track them with just a normal camera. This gives them a clear image of what they're wearing before they're de-blocked, and then they can go back to tracking that person, follow them to where they're de-blocking, wait for them to de-block, get another picture with the regular camera, and then arrest them. So that meant that when people were leaving, it was advantageous to be de-blocking under overhead cover, under thick brush, under thick canopy, out of direct lens sight with the chopper, you know, not in the open air. It's definitely a really hard thing to counter. The surveillance state's one of the things that I find the most fearful about the police state. Not like individual beacops, they're guns and shit or cool or whatever, but man, those cameras, they're really something, you know. I think the Portland police bureau just got a new spy plane, a new Cessna loaded up with surveillance equipment and shit like that. All that stuff does so much more to fuck you up than just like a riot team does. You can throw mortars at a riot team. Sorry, I shouldn't say mortars, fireworks that are called mortars, my bad. I don't want to lean into the explosives narratives, honestly, they're fucking weird about fireworks. But, you know, the surveillance capacities are one of the hardest things to counter. One term that's already come up during our coverage of StopCop City is Foucault's Boomerang, and while that still applies here, we're now also kind of getting into some panapticon territory as shown by this type of surveillance capacity, specifically at actions. And one of the biggest reasons why the panapticon works is that people are scared of it. It scares you away from even taking action in the first place. And like as soon as you overcome that paralyzing fear, the cops become really afraid of you. That's why we say that like the biggest weapon that the state has is fear because like the cops go from these big fucking tough guys to like whining cowards, the second you just become not afraid. You don't even have to beat them. You don't have to overcome the actual physical weapons. But once you get out of that headspace, that paralyzing fear, once you let it pass over you and through you, they're fucking terrified. And if we're going to win, we need to be their worst nightmare. As state repression against the StopCop City movement continues, the coalition against the police training facility only continues to grow. Last month, Angela Davis returned an award proclamation given to her by the Atlanta City Council in protest of cop city. If the attempts by the Atlanta police to build the largest police training grounds in the country are successful, this will represent a major setback for the movement for radical democratic futures not only throughout the US but globally as well. As a person who has participated in campaigns against prisons and police for far longer than a half century, I want to salute all those who are involved in the StopCop City movement. And I want to urge people everywhere to find ways to generate support for them. Angela Davis made it clear that she stood in solidarity with forced offenders facing repression from the police and the city of Atlanta and joined in calls to halt the construction of this facility, which will only serve as a tool to advance what she called militarized police racism and repression. Atlanta activists are on the front lines of the abolitionist movement at its crucial intersection with movements to save our forests indeed to save our planet. The attempt to build a massive militarized police training facility is a dangerous and ominous development that we have to oppose with all our might. And so I want to join those who are standing strong in defense of the forest against the construction of this police training ground. I urge people everywhere to join the campaign to StopCop City. After Angela Davis's announcement, the Walter Rodney Foundation released a statement supporting Davis's decision and against the construction of Cops City. It's interesting to see their more mainline sort of center or center left like organizations that have begun to come on board, even with what happens Sunday. And especially the Thursday March and Rally had it necessitated a response from the city. So Friday morning, there was actually an organization concerned Black clergy who had a press conference like calling out Cops City protesters. And so you had this like very state run. One of the city council members Antonio Lewis was there like live streaming at the entire time. And so you can tell the efficacy of a lot of things that have happened this week by how the city is reacting and how like it is necessitating them going to to greater and greater length. So like try to show that the movement is wrong. One way that the city's been working to advocate for the further development of the Cops City project is by launching a website of their own for the Public Safety Training Center full of videos of the mayor and police chief walking through South Atlanta, trying to convince neighbors that the project is a good idea. In the past few months, the city has also been turning the official City of Atlanta Twitter account into a hilarious Cops City propaganda outlet. About two weeks after the end of the week of action, on March 24, the cab county CEO Michael Thurmond announced an executive order to indefinitely close entrenchment Creek Park, also known as Wallani Peoples Park, claiming that the park was a danger to the public due to booby traps allegedly found in the forest. At a press conference, Thurmond displayed photos of wooden boards with nails sticking out of them allegedly found in the park. The executive order reads that the park will quote remain closed until further notice to protect the safety of the families, residents and visitors and their pets in the area and to county personnel. Unquote. A few days after the announcement, the cab police let a joint task force in a raid of the Wallani forest and entrenchment Creek Park. The land was effectively cleared of all forest offenders with one person being arrested. During the raid, the memorial for Tortugita was destroyed by the police and cement barricades were set up around the entrances and exits to the park. Days later, police and contractors began cutting trees in the Wallani forest with no one around to resist the destruction. The Solidarity Fund put out a statement saying, quote, closing down a public park in order to prevent protests from happening in that space is unconstitutional. The cab CEO Michael Thurmond is trying to do an end run around the first amendment. Unquote. The cab County Commissioner Ted Terry is pushing to reopen the park through a resolution expected to be introduced in early May. But it wasn't just the park's closure that made forest defense more challenging. After the mass action at the Northgate in early March, security was greatly increased at the construction sites in the Wallani forest, with massive spotlights illuminating the area to daylight levels 24 hours a day, which made returning to the sort of night time sabotage actions in the forest that pioneered some of the movement's militancy in its early days to be much more complicated. During my conversations with forest defenders, there was still a desire to see more of those small sabotage actions as the large daytime mass actions seemed to result in more people getting arrested near the site of militant activity. That leads people to take actions that may not be well thought out, but that are very well-intentioned and have tangible results that hurt the police state. But that are actions that do bring harm to themselves or others because there are no... These like middle of the night slash and run sabotage attacks that don't have arrests happen that are safer. And I think we should see a return of that tactic because the level of police presence actions this week post Sunday, like doing shit at downtown protests, fuck that. Like, that's not like, we're not pulling shit off there without a mass arrest or like everyone's getting gassed. Like, it's not a tactically advantageous or viable way of doing things, but I think people wanted to prove to the cops that like, no, no, no, we could open field, fuck them up. And yeah, there were consequences to that, but people fucked them up in the open field, and that's where the plotting. The bounds of the forest is not the only location actions take place. Just about a week after the park closure, and when some of the clear-cutting began, a report back was posted online that read, quote, on the night of Wednesday, April 5, we set fire to three excavators owned by Brent Scarborough Company on a site across from the federal penitentiary in Atlanta. Brent Scarborough is the company and individual responsible for clear-cutting the Wallani forest cop city will never be built, unquote. The March 2023 week of action was always going to be a kind of turning point in showcasing what we'll be seeing in the struggle to defend the forest this spring, and how that will then lead into the summer and what forms of resistance people will choose to take. Whether that be another singular week of action or take notes from the old Earth First Playbook and try to do a whole summer of action. How do you see the movement of stop-cops city changing or evolving in the next few months? All this has felt like it's been very much on the heels of what happened in January. People have tried to find new paths of resistance in the wake of the police killing. How do you see the fight continuing at this stage where they have some land disturbance permits, there's early construction, what are the avenues of resistance that people are trying to go down? I think that we have to be very clear in assessing what has worked in stalling the project and what will work to stop the project because those aren't necessarily the same things. I think there are nuances in particular strategies. There is a difference between, especially in our particular context, that's similar between the difference between guerrilla warfare and urban guerrilla warfare. I see that guerrilla warfare is more so when people have been destroying equipment at contractors offices or wherever or near the forest, etc. You could just hide off into the woods and just disappear back into nothingness. Nobody gets touched. What we have to look at with the actions at the music festival where it exposed a lot of people because, and this is once again, because the police acted so heavy-handedly, but we also know that the police acted heavy-handedly, which is why we're here, so that gets kind of dicey because that's like kind of like urban guerrilla warfare where you have the guerrillas shooting, pow pow pow, and then like running into somebody's grandma's house. People do not fuck with the people. They're just running grandma's house for cover. And that's where things get a little bit dicey because in many ways, a lot of us were looking at means to open up the movement with this week of action and that was what was widely understood for a lot of people. I nevertheless, when you just come in with a boomstick from the beginning that dictates the tone of the rest of the week, and then where you could, you know, for instance, operate from a space of like moral authority, it becomes much easier for people in the fence to justify to themselves, well, where the police supposed to think, right? I mean, we have to realize that there are several like mental resistances that have been taught to people for them to try to discredit us. And I think there's some important context, right? When Martin Luther King Jr. was doing like the nonviolent direct action, at a certain point, they had to make a calculated decision to include women and children in the marches because they had assessed that America had become too desensitized to seeing black men beat in the streets, right? So that was a tactical decision to bring in more people, right? So there are like calculations that people have to make and assessments that they have to make based on the information that we're dealing with. Through talking with forced offenders, I've heard a variety of internal critiques of the week of action format because it is such a concentrated time period. The week of action can give police a very concentrated time to over police and over surveil. And for activists, it can open up an expenditure of energy during the week, which then can lead to a lack of energy leading up to what's been called the week of repression. In the past, every time following a week of action after people from out of town leave, it then leads into a week of repression where police will then do a rate of the forest and have their sort of retaliation the week after. There's been talk of potential changes to some of the week of action format, perhaps doing something more akin to a summer of resistance. So the week of repression is always the week that comes after the week of action where the cops are like, okay, the bulk of your reserves, your out of state support is gone, we're going to come fuck you up now. There are less of you. Now you're less ready to deal with us. And that is like a major strategic flaw in the weeks of action because it kind of creates a activist tourism for people coming out of state. And not that Atlanta doesn't appreciate their support and their solidarity and that so many of those out of state people do stay long term. But it does create a situation where like, yeah, we're having an influx of people for a week, building infrastructure for a week, and then the bulk of those people, a good percentage are going to go home because yeah, like traveling long term is hard. People have jobs, kids, whatever. You have commitments wherever you are and they have to go home. And then the cops just wreck our shit and do raids. And like unless people want to get on board with doing some pretty crazy shit, those raids are hard to counter. It would be who wants to take a realistic audit of what the weeks of action have meant and what they are actually useful for, which the strategic gains of the weeks of action are always now going to be more metaphysical than physical. They bring people to this space. They give them a closeness to the forest that they would not achieve without actually coming here. But as far as tangibly like materially stopping copsity, those kind of middle of the night slash and run attacks, tertiary targeting of contractors, all that stuff, that's how you pressure the money and the money is where you win. Ultimately, it's up to the autonomous actor is that makeup, this is so-called movement and how their choices will determine how the fight to stop copsity will grow and evolve. Because I'm writing this just 30 minutes ago, we found out that the clear cutting at the copsity construction site has essentially been completed. The overhead photos are devastating. Where there were young growing trees just weeks ago is now a flattened mound of red clay and dirt as if the ground itself was bleeding. I counted over 100 trees uprooted from the earth. Thousands of people have dedicated years of their life to defending this forest and the site of sizeable destruction has brought out a variety of grieving reactions. If copsity doesn't get built in the walani, the land could be carefully reforested and healed via regenerative permaculture. With intentional stewardship, the forest could grow to be ecologically healthier than it was before. In some ways, the destruction that has already taken place makes it even more vital to try and stop the construction of copsity. No one is advocating a defeatist approach where forced offenders essentially give up and let the police foundation build it. Because there are still numerous ways to fight against the construction of this facility. But now is not the time to sugarcoat the dire situation people are in. And there should be time allowed to grieve this loss as well as strike back against the destruction. It would be a mistake to gaslight each other and act as if we're closer than ever to halting the copsity project. The fact that it's gotten this far itself is devastating. From the beginning, people have said that even if they do believe that copsity will never be built, the Atlanta Police Foundation and police will absolutely attempt to do as much damage as they can possibly get away with anyway, both to forced offenders and to the forest itself. The past few months, I've been increasingly hearing the vice versa of that sentiment. If copsity does end up getting built, people have pledged that the Atlanta Police Foundation will have to pay for every inch they take. Even if there is no longer hope to save the entire Wallani forest, then we must do so without hope. At least there is always vengeance. It is a long road ahead and there is still much to do. To quote my favorite anarcho monarchist Tolkien. At this moment, the movement will hone its focus to prevent or at the very least disincentivise the physical construction of copsity. I think it'd be worth thinking of this movement as an almost two-year-old movement that's outgrown the week of action. While limit ourselves to seven days, fuck it, do a summer. Do three months of like, we're doing three months of action at Atlanta. Come to Atlanta whenever you want and then go home and do shit at home. There was Fargo's where you live, there are chase banks where you live, there are Atlas construction offices where you live. And yeah, you should come to Atlanta and you should come see the space and you should be in the forest and you should feel like the love and community that's there. We win by fighting on enough fronts that they can't fight us back on all of them. The state dies by a thousand cuts, not by all of us being in one place where they can kettle our asses. Like, that's just not how we're going to win. So yeah, if we had three months of like, we're occupying the forest for three months, come to the space whenever you feel like it. But you know, hopefully when people go home, they feel inspired to like, understand that they can do just as much hitting those companies where they live as they can hear because the money's all going to the same place. The CEO at the top doesn't care if you hit their businesses in Georgia or in Fuckin, Illinois or in Oregon or Washington or whatever. The money's all the same. A phrase I've been hearing a lot lately is, cop city is everywhere. To quote a communicate posted on, quote, we will keep winning not just here in so-called Atlanta, but we must attack all across these so-called states. The money and power that seek to kill us and destroy Wallani are nationwide, and so our movement must be nationwide. A net of resistance, too vast to comprehend and too resilient to suppress. Reality is the battlefield, but so-called America, all of it is the backdrop, unquote. When Chief at Shearbombe gave testimony at City Council, even he mentioned the far-reaching manifestations of the fight to stop cop city. We have been seeing over the last number of months crimes that have been occurring at other cities focused toward the Public Safety Training Center. So we have seen arson's in cities outside of Atlanta. We've seen the destruction of property outside of Atlanta, and we've seen the harassment of private sector employees outside of Atlanta. So that is the next is where the federal Bureau of Investigation has been assisting in the investigation. Like I said in the second episode, the stakes of the movement may soon exceed the bounds of the forest and a cop city, and in fact, that process may have already begun. We are seeing stop cop city turn into a new mode of insurgency and resistance to modern policing in general, not simply limited to the construction of this one training center. As the police are trying to build a training center to practice quelling future civil unrest, the site of the Wallani Forest and beyond has been a training ground for anarchists and those who fight the ever-growing police state. The past two years, it's been a dangerous playground for experimentation and liberation. Applications for the lessons learned in the Wallani Forest extend far past the barriers of the woods. As far right attacks on abortion and trans people are accelerating across this country, but especially the south, perhaps some of the organizing infrastructure that's been developed can take new focus on these battlegrounds. And even just the mere existence of the struggle against cop city in Atlanta has been a deterrent for other cities and states seeking to push forward similar proposals. But as the movement possibly expands past its original scope, in these next few months, we'll need to be careful that the idealic notion of the struggle doesn't eclipse the original and still active goal, which is to stop cop city. Cop city is indeed everywhere, but the current manifestation in Atlanta is unique to Atlanta, and the corresponding struggle to stop the physical construction of this training facility cannot be overlooked in favor of fantasies of utopian anarchy. To steal an idea from Matt of the Community Pres collective, one interpretation of the phrase cop city is everywhere is the realization that Atlanta is cop city and it already has been for years without us knowing it. And if we don't turn back the tide here, cop city will be exported everywhere. Atlanta, once again, because of the Atlanta Police Foundation is the most surveilled city in the country because of 2017's Operation Shield Program where they put tons of cameras all throughout the city and essentially made it a surveillance state. Once again, crime has continued to go up during this time and that would have significantly more to do with the disparity of wealth and opportunities of black atlantons that are born under the poverty line. Only five percent of them are projected to ever cross that line. At the same time, the average median income of black households is one third that of the average median income of white households in Atlanta. So that's about $35,000 to $104,000. And so the wealth is just so disproportionately spread and so much of the labor in terms of economy is predicated on it, that black people are pigeonholed into service economy, jobs and they have very few opportunities here. Now that type of inequality breeds discontent and people looking for other opportunities and the police are ready to catch them at every turn. For resting the juvenile in the point system that they have for Atlanta police department, it's five points. However, you only receive a quarter of a point as a police officer if you answer a service call. So police officers often ignore service calls because that doesn't give them the credit they want, so just to put that in context, you get 20 times the credit and it land to a point quota system for arresting a juvenile than going where people actually wanted police to show up and were supposed to be convinced that this system is made to keep us safe, right? The city of Atlanta and the police foundation wants a cop city to be a national training center for police to come and practice militaristic counterinsurgency for export across the country. They murdered someone to further this goal. All eyes must be on Atlanta. Cop City is a symbol of police repression. Cop City is a symbol of the oppression of the people of Atlanta. I want you to look around and see the families here in this park today. These are people who came because they're concerned for their children. These are people who are concerned because they don't want their city overrun by militarization. The level of repression the movement is facing is a sign that the state feels like this movement is a threat and the state feels like this movement has the possibility of actually succeeding. So in response, they're increasing repression. And on the flip side of that, during this past week of action, I saw a lot of affirmation that this is going to be successful and that people believe that they will stop cop city. A common refrain during the past week of action is that cop city will never be built. And I believe that we will win. There's been such a unique emphasis on the fact that people believe that this fight is 100% winnable and that people do have the ability to stop cop city and the people who are participating truly believe that. And I think that is an important part of why it's gotten as far as it has. So we can get everything we want to this city, we can stop cop city, we got the power, but we just got to believe y'all. We got to believe in our power. There's a last thing on the face, this is going to be a lot of people telling us about what we can't do about what these organizers are here. Can't do. That's what it tells about what we can't do. But I'm going to tell you all of us out here, we're organizers. We are in a business of taking that which other people say is impossible and we make it possible. We got that power. As long as we believe that, we just need to say we'll now see her. Say her I believe. I believe. Say her I believe that we will win. This is interesting to me because in my experience, a lot of leftists and anarchists approach much of their practice with the concept of them expecting to not succeed, but they're going to do it anyway, which there is a kind of fated beauty to that in a certain way. And part of that is taking action even if you don't think it will lead to a decisive victory. But also, I feel that being in that mindset might set you up for that outcome. If you're preparing to fail, that means you're probably going to fail or at the very least limit the ways that you do action. And throughout this movement thus far, it's been interesting the degree to which people are convinced that they are going to win. If you're being prepared to fail, you won't take the radical action that it takes to win. Winning is hard and winning means doing things that are scary and uncomfortable and doing things that put you in danger and doing things that are new and unknown and different and taking new strategies and doing new things. And we in the US and a lot of other places, but this is US-based movement. So there's so much learned hopelessness on the left here from so many years of like, we lost a occupy and then we lost in Ferguson and Standing Rock and in 2020. All of these movements that put big body blows to the state put some hits in, but we're just followed by these waves and waves of repression. We've learned so much helplessness and for the first time in my life, I'm looking at a movement that I'm like, no, no, we can fucking beat them. And people are stagnating, we're blinking because of what happened on Sunday and like, no, no, no, what happened on Sunday proved that we can win. It proved that we can. One, fight them in the open field and beat them that they are afraid of us that they will see territory if we hit them. And it proved that they are so afraid of us that they need to mobilize fucking ten different police departments to come deal. And then they won't even step like into the actual brush of the forest because they think we're the fucking Vietcong. That proves we can win more than anything that proves we can win. And if we do not accept that, what is proved that we can win is like property destruction and to a degree doing violence, we won't win. Those fireworks helped a lot. They pushed the cops out and like we shouldn't bulk at that. And I guess I don't classify that as violence. The police classify that as violence, what they consider taking hits, I guess. But yeah, we are so on the cusp of a maker break kind of deal here. The only way that we win is not this internal debate we're having about the efficacy of tactics. It's doubling down on what we are already doing because it's working and expanding on it. Do you believe that cops that he will be will be actually stopped? We got to. And here's what I mean by that. This is the line. We have environmental racism, police militarization and brutality in police and racism. And it's all coming to a head right here in this particular movement. We have to win because what they're doing now is to build capacities, make sure that we can't win. And so why people are pushing so hard is that as we've seen over the past couple of weeks, the police have plenty of like tanks and shit and all sorts of militarized and tactical gear. And now they're trying to build another base in the blackest part of the city and to build up more capacity to put down any sense of rebellion or push back against empire. We can not allow it to happen. And I mean, there is so much money going to kill people in end life. And if we win right here and make this stand right here, that changes the potentiality for how we view how to keep one another safe and how to reinvest in ourselves and our people throughout this country in a huge way. I think that we are at the precipice of not only winning Cup City, but pushing back the tide of the cult of death that this country has become. The clear cuts in the Wallani forest at this stage serve a threefold purpose. One, it obviously gets them closer to construction and the mass land degrading that is scheduled to start on May 23rd. Two, it's a ploy by the APF to secure additional needed funds from cop city investors. And finally, it's to demoralize the people who spent years of their life working to stop this project. Everything that police have done is essentially always a reprisal, right? The movement does something and the police clamp down in a reprisal to try to repress the movement. Police always escalate, but they have always been like in response to something. And their goal, of course, is to quiet and chill free speech and end the movement. And every time this happens, the opposite effect is what comes out of it. And from the domestic terrorism rest in December, like really, that's when this even larger groundswell of national support happened. And people started to take notice because this was an extreme measure. And then with the killing of Tortugita in January, that changed so much about the movement, including people's personal connection to this struggle, where no longer are people doing this simply because they believe it is what's right. They are doing this because they have to because the state cannot get away with this. This death cannot be in vain. And now people believe that they have to succeed or at the very least make the state pay for every inch. And that may mean looking beyond the binary of a victory and defeat. According to a construction timeline from this past April, the Atlanta Police Foundation plans to start construction on August 29, 2023 in order for a quote unquote soft opening of the facility in December of 2024. One hiccup that the APF has run into is that it seems they have yet to secure enough money to finish the project and have been forced to ask their investors and the city for more additional money, despite scaling back their plans for the project. As a short clip put together by the Atlanta Community Press Collective explains, The city council will in fact have to vote on whether or not to allocate $33 million taxpayer to the construction of cop city in the very near future. Additionally, the Atlanta Police Foundation budget documents show that current construction plans have been scaled back from what was originally promised. This indicates a failure by the foundation to raise the promise $60 million in private funds. The city vote down this funding package of $33 million is difficult to see a path forward for the Atlanta Police Foundation's effort to begin construction on cop city anytime in the near future. The city council has actually not yet voted to approve the allocation of millions of dollars in city funds to the cop city project. Through an open records request, we were able to get our hands on emails between the Atlanta Police Foundation and Atlanta's Deputy Chief Operating Officer, La Shandra Burts. In this email exchange, the police foundation expressed a need for the city to provide $33.5 million in funding for the project. Burts responded by mentioning the need for legislative action to secure the funds. The emails state that the police foundation wants to pass this legislation before June 30th because they need the city of Atlanta's money to secure their construction loan. It's expected that as soon as May 15th, a member of the city council will introduce legislation to allocate public funds to the Atlanta Police Foundation to build cop city. And a final vote could happen as soon as June 5th. One thing that the movement to stop cop city has shown us is that no matter what police do, people continue to show up despite what happens and the movement keeps expanding. As the unnamed forest defender told me, Infrastructure wise, this week of action was the biggest infrastructure I've seen doing a week of action. I thought that the infrastructure we put together for week one was pretty big, but I mean, it doesn't even compare. It's not the same ballpark as what happened for week five. Just from how the medics were set up and how food was handled, there was a shuttle bus program. There was a welcome table at a church at one point. There was like 24-7 clinic spaces. There was 24-7 ride programs and medics on standby and like all these things that were ready to support everybody. Like there was all this infrastructure set up to make sure that people were as supported as possible and to make it as easy as possible and lower the barrier of entry to the movement as much as possible, more than there has been in any other week of action so far. I feel like the way that we continue, that is to take lessons learned from what's happened this week, from the problems with the infrastructure, the issues that it had, expand on it and then fucking do it for way longer. Like we could do this for an entire summer. I am fully of the belief that the infrastructure I saw in display during the fifth week of action, we could do that for a summer. I believe in the kind of people who put it together and I believe in the people who did it to do that. We just have to kind of look at what went wrong, what went right and fix it. All the things that existed in this week of action as far as they're being food, rides, medics and like group supplies, all these things existed during weeks of action one through four. It's just grown. It's gotten more logistically intense. There are more and more people filling those roles. There's more and more stuff coming in. Like the amount of supplies that we just got sent in or people brought with them from out of state has just so vastly expanded since the first week of action. It's just gotten more, I don't know, like not professional but more polished. It's become a much more polished setup system as time went on from the first camp that we had during the first week of action to now, you know, almost two years later. And that's a huge part of why I think we've outgrown the week of action. We have these types of thought processes and logistics to do this for a summer or for a month. We just need people and resources. We need more people to be willing because I don't want people to get tired. Just last month, another week of action was called for June 24th to July 1st, directly leading into what's being called the Wallani summer with locals in Atlanta calling on supporters and forced defenders everywhere to come to Atlanta for the week and stay for the summer. With entrenchment creek park still closed and there being ongoing efforts to have it be reopened, what the week and following summer will look like is still very unknown. We always are going to need more people. People are a most important resource always. The way that we limit burnout is by having more and more people so that the burden falls less and less heavy on small groups of people and so that people can take breaks. And that's another problem I have with like the week of action as a strategy is you're just going non-fucking stop for a week. If you had three months, you're like, I'm going to chill for a couple of weeks. I'll be back, you know, because I have all this time and it frees up people from out of state to come in have times to work it out in their schedule more. There will be more information put out in the coming weeks. You can keep up to date by following stop cop city on Instagram, defend ATL Forest on Twitter or by checking out, ideally with a VPN and tour slash brave browser. If you were at the music festival and you're just a normal person, you weren't involved with the movement before this and you were at the music festival and you kind of saw why we're fighting for this. You saw that space and then you saw the type of violence that the police were willing to output to do it. Let that move you to get involved further. You don't have to join an organization, you know. I don't want to speak for other people. I'm a hard anarchist, fuck organizations to a large degree, but like having a affinity group, get your friends together. If you guys want to be helping out with the food people, help out with the food people. You want to be medics, go join a medic collective, like find whatever thing calls to you and just go and do it because we need people and there's no barrier of entry to join the movement, there's no test you have to take, you just have to show up. I will end this week of action retrospective with a promise from the Forest defenders. See you on the other side. We will burn it. We will burn it. We will burn it. If you feel that we will burn it. Music Festival audio courtesy of Unicorn Riot. Subscribe us shiny new scar of 10 miles away flattened masterpieces. Or Mitarbeiter of Rock, adherence in woods or moi coming along with Eric Rattles. juga Lifters joined an organization, right? Truckoger,ases on NS Real. Genauer & domestic product developed by DC Oct schedule CR5 Cafes. OW versión & burgeroin. If you want to join a 국o to get involved know jaguar in punk亂七七七's or when you want me to join a career. We are cultured. Powerful kingdomший Mississippi's relación with stability taking place Rental and enjoy 30% off your Walt Disney World experience and with a 365 day refund guarantee. There's no excuse. For the best TV viewing experience, witness the coziest maroons, the most vibrant and brightest moons, the areas and darkest tombs, and radiant and vivid hues in any type of room with a neo-QLED and OLED TVs by Sam Summ. We're supposed to say Samsung, but that didn't rhyme, so you're welcome. Samsung. More Wow Than Ever. Welcome to IdkouldHapen here. This is Robert Evans and it could happen here is a podcast about things falling apart. And sometimes about making them better. Today we're talking both about something that is implicated in a number of aspects of what we call the Crumbles here in the United States, which is the police. And we're also talking about the tremendous difficulty that people encounter whenever they try to improve this particular aspect of American society, the near impossibility of reform within the police. And to talk with me about that and to talk with me about their incredible new book, The Writers Come Out at Night is Ali Winston. Ali co-wrote this book with Darwin Bondgram and it covers particularly the Oakland police and a scandal that kind of happened at around the same time as the Rampart scandal in Los Angeles, focused around a group of Oakland police officers called The Writers, who, well, I'm going to let Ali tell you about that. It's a pretty shocking and bleak story though. Ali, welcome to the show. Hi there, how are you doing? I'm doing good, how are you today? Lovely, lovely. Ali, this is a great book. It's very deeply reported. I want to talk a little bit about kind of the what sort of brought you into this story because this is something that kind of happened around the turn of the last century. And it's kind of adjacent to a lot of issues that are still very much relevant in kind of the problems we have with policing, both kind of the thin blue line code of silence, the way in which police departments act in a very gang-like fashion to protect bad actors, the way in which kind of ill thought out reform policies targeted at kind of asswashing the fears of business owners, lead to policies of tremendous violence. A lot of things that are still very much kind of at play all around the country, it's fascinating to me. So we came at this book both kind of independently. We came at this as to reporters who'd worked kind of handing glove together for about 10, since 2012 when we signed our contract, it was 2020, but we'd, I'd started reporting on the Oakland Police Department in 2008 when I moved to the Bay Area for a graduate school at Cal, Go Bears. And I'd kind of dove right into the topic of police and police conduct in Oakland because I'd wanted to, I'd been messing around with criminal justice reporting when I was back east in New York and North and New Jersey where I was working. And there really was, there were some really egregious shootings at that point in time in the early 2000s, mid 2000s, late 2000s, OPD about average, I think eight to 14 officer involved shootings, police shootings a year invariably there would be one or two or three or four depending on the year or maybe more that involves someone who's unarmed, fleeing, it was an awful, but lawful shoot or maybe just an awful shoot that the DA didn't charge or didn't properly investigate. And at that time, it was really tough to get information about police shootings in California because of a combination of laws and Supreme Court, California Supreme Court decisions that intersected and kind of shut the door on any sort of record you could get from about police disciplinary action or their past histories. So you kind of had to mine the civil courts and look for back doors and through the DA's offices and just kind of or source up really well to try and report out these incidents. And Darwin and I met about around 2012. We started interrogating questions about power and the political economy of law enforcement. We started to raise questions about the percentage of budgetary allocation that OPD receives. It's about 40% of the city's billion dollar budget give or take. So we're talking $350, $400 billion every year. The result, the net result for public safety is questionable. At best, it doesn't really tie in to increase in police funding, increase in men power, decreasing crime. Oakland is a very violent city, often ranks in the top 10 or top five nationally in per capita crime, per 100,000 residents. And you know, it's also been under this reform program forever. And we, this is the backdrop to all our reporting. There was always this backdrop of court-ordered reforms. There's external oversight. The external oversight is oftentimes how the public and the press became aware of some very deep-seated issues in the department and how they would get addressed because the politicians here are feckless, were inexperienced or complicit or all the above. So we, over the course of our reporting together, kind of yoke together, brown to decade, eight years or so, we kind of realized, okay, we have a paragraph in each one of our stories that explains the backdrop or maybe a little bit more depending on how legalistic a piece it was. We need to peel all this back. We need to explain to people because this is the longest running oversight regime in the country, right? Two decades now, over two decades since the consent decree, the negotiated settlement agreement was signed. And we just needed to explain to people why this city had gone so far, why it was an edge case, why it was an outlier. And in order to do that, we couldn't use 5,000 words. We needed 120,000, 160,000. Yeah. Yeah. This is a dense book in a way that's still intensely readable. And I think part of what makes it readable is it goes to a tremendous amount of effort laying out things that people kind of know in broad. And a good example of this would be people talk a lot about the kind of concept of the bad apples that there's both on the side of people defending police departments that it's a few bad apples. And then kind of, and you find this more and sort of people on the left criticizing police as an institution, the idea that like, well, the fact that those bad apples are supported and defended by the rest of the department kind of means that they're all but bad, you get these kind of like broad discussions about that phenomenon. What you do in this book is kind of get very granular with the way in which that actually functions on the ground. I'm thinking about a specific point where you've got one of the characters, one of the people that is a major source kind of for this book and a major source for this scandal was a police officer who effectively turned on his fellow officers and reported all of this illegal violence being done by this gang. And there's a point where this guy, after he's kind of become thoroughly horrified and disillusioned by what, you know, he's the guys that he's writing with or doing, goes to other people in the department who are like, yeah, those guys are like messed up and it's bad and you just kind of have to, you should just kind of like, you know, try to, try to move on, but don't make waves about it, right? And it's this, it's this, the kind of the fact, the degree to which other people can not just know in the department what's happening, but be disgusted by it and still win them kind of the, the shit hits the fan, fundamentally defend the officers doing it, right? Like the fact that they're able to warn other officers away from, you know, hang being around those guys doesn't mean that they won't like absolutely throw down to defend them, which is is, you know, something I think people are kind of broadly aware of, but the kind of going into the actual personal dynamics is, I think, really valuable and you do a very good job of capturing that at the ground level. Well, what we wanted to do is explain how, so it's not bad apple theory, I think, is, yeah, honestly, it's a distraction and frankly, it's an excuse. What you're dealing with is culture. Right. It's politics and policy for lunch, breakfast, lunch, dinner and all the meals in between every single time. You can't change culture unless you understand it. So what we wanted to do and we were able to do this because we had very good sourcing, not only inside and around the department, current former officers, we had reams of records. I mean, we sued for, I want to say hundreds of thousands of record pages of records, videos, audio files, got old court transcripts, cassette tapes of old internal affairs, interviews, back rep, backstop those by talking to the people and they're involved. And we were really able to, we were able to kind of reconstruct not just the initial scandal of the writers of which stem from this young officer, Keith Bat, who is from a city from Sebastian Paul, which is a bit north of Oakland, very different place, rural, bit crunchy, quite crunchy, not nearly the like real rough and tumble grit of Oakland around the turn of the millennium. And Keith comes in, he's a colonel justice major in college, really idealistic, wanted to join the active police department applied to dozens of departments, several departments around the area. And the first one that took him was Oakland and Oakland had a good reputation among police culture. It was an active department that cops worked hard, they were well trained, they were decently paid. And it wasn't a, you know, in the Bay Area, like the two departments that people look to are like, are the Oakland police department and SFPD, and SFPD is a closed shop. It is a legacy department is run by an intense old boy network of Italian and Irish folks, some Chinese, some Asian immigrants that are kind of led into that now. But it is just, it's such an insular place. OPD is actually typically more welcoming for recruits from outside and they really like people who are hard chargers active, willing to learn. And Keith finished the top of his, near the top of his academy, excellent shot, really sharp on the uptake, his instructors liked him. And right when he was about to go on the street, they, one of his instructors pulled him aside and said, Hey, I hear you got aside to, to chuck to Clarence Mavidan, who was his field training officer. And he said, Okay, listen, you need to keep your mouth shut and you need to keep your eyes open. You're going to see some crazy shit, but just go along to get along, you know, just keep your head down. Yeah. And Keith was like, Wait, what are you talking about? Like that's, that's some wild, that's a wild shit. Like that's not what I'm expecting. It's a little bit odd and these are older officers who you respected. He goes out and gets in the car with Chuck and Chuck is this little, you know, very, very intense buzz cut, Filipino dude. He's like, All right, I'll teach you and I'll take, take you out and toughen you up. Like this is not the academy anymore. I'm going to teach you how to be in the streets. We're going to get a fight, we're going to get in a fight tonight. This is, that's first shot night on the job, first time stepping into a crown Victoria Patrol car with, with his FTO and he's like, What, what? And sure enough, Chuck gets in a confrontation that very night with someone drunk in front of his own house, just drunk in front of his own house. Threatens to shoot the guy's dog, takes the guy in after beating him up and Keith is like, Wait, what? You shoot dogs and yeah, they told him that, you know, every now and then they would encounter somebody with the dog and they would shoot the dog and then cut the leash in order to make it seem like the dog was going to attack them and that was just his introduction to it. And over the two weeks that he worked with several officers on shift, there were three other officers who kind of made up this little click of freewheeling cops that they called themselves the riders and they were, they were Jude Ciappno. Frank Vasquez and Matt Hornung and those three were kind of at the center of it and they would, they were basically took it on themselves. They were not a task force, they were just patrol officers, they would kind of roam around West Oakland going out and looking for people to arrest, just jumping out of random folks, they were pro not reactive, they were proactive. So they essentially ended up kidnapping people, planning drugs on them when they didn't find drugs, beating the tower out of them, torturing them. Ciappno's nickname was the foot doctor because he had a habit of taking his ass retractable baton and beating the tainees on the soles of their feet till they couldn't walk. Yeah, their bruises were so painful. For some reference, that was called bestinato by the Spanish inquisition who left to do the exact same thing. Yeah, no, it's really, it's grim, it's really, really grim shit. So Keith sees all this stuff, it's just like two weeks of like training day, that film, it's two weeks of that. It's not just one week. And he's like, I can't do this. This can't be the way policing is and he keeps going, you know, kind of casting around for help. And the cash 22 that he's in is that anybody who he tells about this behavior is obligated by OPD's regulations to then report said misconduct. And if they don't, then they're guilty of failing to report misconduct. So he has to kind of hedge his words and you know, talk around these issues and his friends who work in OPD, who work in CHP, California, Iowa patrol. He tells about this stuff in this roundabout way or all giving him the same advice, you know, I don't know. Like, do you want to write out your career? Like, can you do this? Is there a way you can switch out? Is there a way that you can thread the needle? And it gets to be too much. And so one day, after two weeks, he decides, I can't do this anymore. I can't put more, I can't put innocent people in jail. I can't forge paperwork for my supervisors. I can't forge their overtime. You know, I can't help them steal money from the taxpayers like this. So he goes into the, you know, he confronts them in a parking garage in front of a church in right north of downtown Oakland. These guys called the light cave they would hang out at. And he's telling Chuck, listen, you know, I can't do this. This isn't the right way. And Mavinang says, well, you know, you have a problem. No, no, I don't think you're really getting this. He's trying to like talk and pass it. And then Keith keeps bringing up Frank Vazquez. And Frank, he'd seen Frank choke people. He'd see Frank empty, I can't pepper spray into somebody's mouth, put his fingers into their eyes like a bowling ball. He said, oh, if you have a problem with Frank, you can talk to him. Vazquez comes over, you know, drives over there that have a conversation about that. And Keith at this point is so wired up and so terrified. And he's looking at Mavinang and looking at Vazquez and thinking to himself, okay, can I get to my pistol before they get to theirs if they want to hurt me? And if we have a shootout, how's it going to look if three Oakland cops are bucking lead at each other in uniform on shift? Right? He's running this calculus in his head. It doesn't come to that in the end, Mavinang convinces him to go in and sign a resignation letter. And when he does that at OPD headquarters, one of his supervisors from the academy gets hold of him, gets a hold of him and says, no, no, no, this isn't what, this is not you, what he's going on. And they convince him to go upstairs and talk to internal affairs. And then he spills the beans on the, what he's seen the past two weeks and that blows the lid off this scandal. There had been a number of people who had attempted to kind of like victims of this particular gang of guys who had attempted to complain, attempted to come forward. But yeah, it's not really until this officer on the inside with a very good record is willing to say something that anything starts to happen. So you have to remember the context here. I'm sorry for cutting in, but I was remiss on this. So the context of Oakland in late 1990s, early 2000s is that it's in the middle of New York style urban renewal. Jerry Brown, who later became governor of California, was kind of on his way back up the political rung and Oakland was his first stop. He was reelected mayor in 1998, I believe, on this kind of ecotope in platform where he was going to turn Oakland into the socialist, you know, environmental family metropolis. But he gets in the office, he starts going to the community meetings and he realizes public safety is the number one concern. So he becomes Rudy Giuliani West as one of his former employees put it to us, pushes a massive building program in downtown Oakland for new residential market rate housing. And enlists his police department to go on a clean up the streets spree by any means necessary. And he would go into the lineup and cheer them on. Rude them on say, listen, I got your back, I got my back, your play, you know, just take back those corners from these dealers. That's what those officers, that's what Mabana and Horno, Seattle and Vazquez were responding to. They were responding to the instructions from their supervisors, from their chief, from their mayor that came down the command chain to clean up the streets and do this sort of stuff. And they were actually, you know, Mabana and Vazquez in particular were very highly valued officers. And they were very active. They made their supervisors look good. It was this kind of one hand wash is the other bit. Yeah. And I, one of the things that I found particularly kind of impactful is the way in which you describe both the kind, the violence, the absolute like horrifying cruelty of what these guys are getting up to and how that intersects with Jerry Brown's political career with the kind of promises he's making to clean up the city and the kind of metrics that are established, you know, to provide basically evidence that, that this, this plan is succeeding. You know, it's, it, it really like kind of gives on the ground context to what this kind of broken windows style policing, what it actually means in terms of a human cost. And it's, it's devastating. And equally devastating is the lawsuit that kind of comes afterwards when this all gets exposed. And one of the things that was most shocking to me, because I was, I was only kind of broadly aware of this case at all is when, when these guys, the, the officers in this, in this gang get, you know, go on trial or sort of when that process starts, one of them, this guy, Vazquez, like goes on the run, steals an AR 15 from his department and fucking disappears. And he's still in the wind. No one's ever found this guy. Yeah, he was most likely in Mexico. He's from Mexico. He's born down there and has family around Medi, the, the theory is that he, and you know, he was stopped by a cop. That's when, yeah, he, he, people realized that he had been, that he'd stolen a gun from the department, but he kind of badges way out of this encounter with a cop in Solution City, which is a Delta town near, where he lived and near his house. And that was the last anybody had seen of his, has seen of him, the theory, the theory that's rattled around quite often. And there's more often than there's probably some heft to it, is that somebody from the either the department or the police union helped him down to the border and Chula Vista and he walked across. So the odds are that he's in Mexico, ostensibly the FBI are still looking for him. He's a fugitive, but he's never, never been found. No. And he, when this happens, because his, his buddies and the writers are all, go, all do in fact go on trial. And you know, you might think the fact that, that one of them, like, bounced and fled the country after stealing a gun would have an impact on things, but no. No. No, in court, they're not, you know, the, the prosecutors aren't allowed to tell the jury what happened with Fascas, because they're, it's worried that it might prejudice them, which is wild to me. Well, in the first trial, so there were two trials. Sorry, I had a little bit. All three cops in the first trial, there's hung juries in them. I think they were one or two holdouts, maybe. And from the reporting that we did, the interview that we did with the ADA on the case, Dave Hollister, it seemed that these were people who were convinced that these were good cops. And the ends justified the means are, therefore, you know, this kind of noble, noble cause corruption actually has an audience among some segments of the population around here. I mean, it, it, you'll, I'm sure you see this across the bay now in San Francisco. There's all these people who are, you know, kind of advocating the sort of vigilante violence that that former fire commissioner was committed against homeless folks on house. Yeah. For folks who aren't aware, the fire commissioner of San Francisco, this was a couple of months ago, right around the time that there was a big wave of San Francisco is collapsed into anarchy sort of stories, which happened every 10 years. Yeah. Yeah. And have been, you know, it happened at the same time that that tech CEO was stabbed to death, turns out by another tech founder. What did you do? But yeah, the story that the fire commissioner had been attacked. And there's this video I'm getting brutally beaten by a homeless man. It turns out he had been going around at night and macing homeless people at random. One of their spray. Yeah. Hair spray. Hair spray. It was crazy. It was awful shit. And then someone attacked him with a homeless with a crowbar, but all that, those facts were emitted anyway. So the bottom line is with the, with Hornung Vazquez and Siappno, they're hung on the first trial and then the second trial they're acquitted. Their hornung is acquitted of some charges and there's hung juries in the rest of his charges and those for Siappno and Mabinank. But in the second trial, the first trial, the defense was well, they didn't do it Keith. The Keith's bed is lying. The second trial was well, the defense turned to a strategy of well, actually Frank Fask as was the leader. So it's all Frank's fault. Yeah, it's easy to throw that guy under the bus because he's gone. Exactly. Yeah, exactly. And you know, to say he was a ring leader is absurd because everyone knew in OPD and outside OPD that Mabinank was the shot caller in that little gang. What's interesting is the lawsuit. So there's a little vagary here about the criminal investigation into the writers. The police department and the police department's internal affairs investigators and the police chief made a decision from day one from on high that the investigation would only be limited to what Keith batsall that it would not expand out beyond his two weeks on the job and the incidents that he witnessed personally and that they were able to corroborate with other people. There was another cop, Scott, who did corroborate some of this stuff once it came out that he'd falsified some reports. He decided to save his own skin. So he also caught some of the flack that that did, but not nearly the same sort of death threat type shit that Keith caught. So with regard to the broader, the broader lay of the land, the criminal, the investigation didn't go into a broader pattern of what else was happening on these shifts. What are their cops who are involved? Because the writers, you know, there's a ball that they actually signed for each other. And there's several names on that ball. It's not just those four cops. So the civil suit, there was a civil suit brought by two civil rights, two attorneys in the area John Burris and Jim Chanin who had been suing the department for years. They'd actually received walk-ins, the victims that you'd mentioned earlier over the years alleging that they've been arrested, beaten up, framed up, tortured by these cops in West Oakland. And when the news of Keith Bat blowing the whistle on the writers hit the newspapers, it clicked for them. And they realized they'd been seeing this pattern. So they opened up their own pattern and practice investigation and did their own investigation of complaints and canvassed neighborhoods and gotten names from people who had filed complaints and alleged similar patterns of misconduct and came up with 119 plaintiffs who laid out a pattern of abuses that spans much more of the city, the downtown area, other parts of West Oakland, even as far as East Oakland and a much broader time frame, stretching back almost basically to 1995, five years prior. So the reality of OPD's abuses and their kind of deep corruption in that period of time was far larger than the criminal case against those four writers would have it. And I should say that these civil attorneys took up the challenge where both the state attorney general and the federal authorities, both the local United States attorney and federal and civil rights in main justice, dropped the ball. They did not open pattern and practice investigations into OPD. And we have it from the ADA himself who's in the room when he presented their case because they were cross designated as they were cross-editors designated as US attorneys during their whole investigation and vice versa. He presented the case to the city United States attorney at the time. One Robert Mueller should be familiar to your listeners as the former head of the FBI twice over. Swing and Bob Miller, that's right. Mueller flipped through the pages and was looking, trying to see if any connections to Russia and Alpha Bank and so on. But no, actually, he's flipping through and he pulls out these files and he looks at the long rap sheet of some of these witnesses. And these were people in the street. These were people who had been arrested before, had been involved in narcotic sales, petty assaults, that Robert E's burglaries. What have you? Like, they were people who were not kids. They were not clean sheets. And he handed the file back to Hollister to the ADA and said, I wish you the best of luck. It's important to note that this was a different era. A cops' word was very, very, very hard to impeach on the stand. There was nobody camera video. There were no cell phone videos at the time. You would maybe have a rough camcorder every now and then if somebody shooting like a little video on the street, kind of grainy digital cameras and they were, the sound wasn't great, but there wasn't much beyond eyewitness testimony. And that's why Keith's words were so important, why his testimony was so critical, is that you had a cop coming out and blowing the whistle on his department and saying, no, this is not right. They're doing, they should be punished for it. You know, I can't help but thinking about the story that's kind of blown up right now about there's a man on the subway recently in New York City who was acting kind of erratically yelling and stuff, but it was not, had not done any violence to anyone in a bystander, a strap hanger, restrained him, put him in a headlock for 15 minutes and he died. And kind of the response that I'm seeing from guys like Mad Walsh, the daily wire crew, you know, particularly in right wing media is, well, this guy had been arrested, you know, 40 times or whatever. It's like, well, that's not, that's not your main thing to do. Doesn't give you the right to lynch someone. Yeah, exactly. Like, that, like the, the penalty for having been arrested in the past is not getting strangled to death. That's not the way the system is, that's not the way any of this is supposed to work. And it's, it's interesting. There's a degree to which, I guess it hasn't changed. And there's a degree to which I'm kind of worried that the, the sort of nature of social media means that we're a lot more open about the kind of violence we're willing to accept for. Oh, I agree with that entirely. I mean, that's unfortunately the backlash to a lot of, to both Black Lives Matter cycles in 2014, 15 and the current cycle is a lot more virulent than, then you'd have it if you just watched kind of the soft focus PBS frontline documentary versions of it. There's a lot of really naked justification and support for extra legal violence. And that is part of the issue with law enforcement and holding them accountable. There's always going to be a segment small, sometimes vocal, sometimes not of the society that supports violence beyond the extent of the law, beyond the constraints of our system. And that's why oversight, why running the rule over law enforcement and making sure that they, they behave according to the laws and that they are operating within the bounds of their limits in so far as we have set them out for them. And in so far as like it look, this book is not a book questioning whether or not police should exist. They do exist. They have existed. This is what it has looked like to date, right? If people, other people want to make those cases and look at, you know, hypotheticals or envision a different future, that's totally fine. What we're trying to do is lay out the ways in which people have pushed back on one of the most egregious departments in the country consistently over, for over a century and actually had some sort of lasting impact on it. And there have been some impacts that have really changed because of, look, there are, there's no more public strip searching of people in the streets that happen in Oakland on the regular every day as late as 2009 and 10. It was common that the cops would say, look, I'm going in your ass for rocks. You'd better not have anything there, right? In the middle of the morning on a crowded street in front of people driving by on the way to work. That sort of civil rights violation would happen all the time. The department no longer shoots, shoots maybe about three or four people a year. That's way down from 14 to 15 a year, a decade, 12 years ago. That's because they've changed their chase policy, their pursuit policy. They used to pursue people with an intent to catch them at all costs. That ended up resulting in cops chasing people down blind alleys or ending up way too close to a suspect and pulling out their weapon and opening up fire, regardless of whether or not they actually had the suspect had a firearm or another weapon or whether the cops were under threat. The change of the, in the pursuit policy has led to more of a, their, the instruction now is to contain, don't pursue close, call for backup, set a perimeter, preserve life. That's not been, that change was not something the department submitted to voluntarily. They are brought, they are kicking and screaming, but because there has been this outside and the position of court oversight for so long, because it hasn't gone away, because it's not overseen by the Justice Department or the State Attorney General. So, you know, they, some, the political figure can't, like, they can't, there can't be a deal cut in the back room between a Senator's staffer and the Federal Department of Justice or the mayor and the State Attorney General and their wife or whatever. Like that sort of thing doesn't really happen when the plaintiffs' attorneys aren't beholden to anybody other than themselves. And when the Federal District Court judge kind of lets the situation play out as it will and whole, and both judges on this case have actually been very by the book and very stringent on how the oversight has gone. So that's why it's gone for 20 years and it actually has resulted in good changes. There are a lot of people who bitch about it who cry that, oh, well, we need to be out from another to this oversight. It's hampering the police. They can't do their job as they will. Do you want to go back to 20 years ago? Do you really want that? Do you want that sort of abuse? No. And that's why there is a constituency in Oakland that did manage to change a lot of things around. There's a police commission here that now oversees the department. It's not perfect. It's very much in the infancy, but that's a body that exists to take control away from the mayor and move it more towards civilian control of police department. And this is, yeah, it's a long arc, but the bottom line is that it's not about a one or zero. There's no linear progress here. It kind of goes in ways, but there has been progress, which is a crazy thing to say when you look at the shit that's in the book. Yeah. Yeah. But it is like it's important both, you know, I think our audience is definitely much more of our audiences in the constituency of, you know, get rid of the police entirely. Even if you're coming at it from that, I mean, especially if you're coming at from that standpoint, actually, I think kind of one of the mistakes that a lot of people who are on that side of things, which is generally where I find myself is using that as an excuse to not actually understand how the police function using their sort of distaste for the institution as an excuse to not understand how the institution works, why it's resilient and the ways in which, you know, both harms can, to an extent, be mitigated, but also kind of just on its strategic level, how it functions to defend itself. And I think this book does an exceptional job of going through that in a way that's nuanced and detailed, but also compelling and readable. Like you're not going to have to, I do really recommend your book. People are not going to have like trouble getting into it. Like I was drawn in from the first page. So I really do think this is something folks should look into no matter where you live in the United States, even if you've never been to Oakland, you will, you will get a lot out of this. I would say that we didn't make an explicit attempt to make the city the main character. So to draw people into Oakland and kind of cast it in the same way that Mike Davis cast Los Angeles in the city of courts, may he rest in peace. He was a great inspiration for us. But more than anything else, there are tons of parallels in Oakland to other places. It's not a unique play. I mean, it is a unique place, but it's also. Yeah, very typical for an American city like Los Angeles and New York and Chicago are completely atypical. They're huge. They don't, most American cities are like 400 to 600,000 people large. Oakland's racial balance is almost 30, 30, 30 white Latino, black, 10% Asian, roughly 80 to 10% Asian than everyone else thrown in there. It's really balanced out in some ways. It's very representative and it's also, you know, Rust Belt city in certain respects. Although that's changed a lot with the tech room. We could be going back the other way. But it really, there are echoes in stuff that's happened in New York and Los Angeles, in Cleveland, in New Orleans, in Portland and Seattle. It's the experience that we've had here, particularly with police oversight in reform. I mean, Portland and Seattle are two other cities that have actually undergone very similar programs with departments that are more alike to OPD than not. Yeah. Well, Ali, is there anything else you wanted to make sure to get into in this conversation? Or, yeah. I think your point about, I just wanted to touch on your point about where people come out for the institution. I think it's really important, even regardless of what you believe about where we shouldn't be with law enforcement, you got to understand it. Yeah. Because it's such a huge institution in our society. It is basically the main point of contact most people have with the state now. In many American cities, because we've stripped down so many other aspects of our societies, our mental hospitals are gone, our schools are failing, public housing barely exists. Our healthcare system is decimated and cops essentially catch a lot of the end product of those problems. It's one of the reasons why I started reporting on criminal justice. Because you can look at so many other issues in American society through that system. Also you can see ways in which political agendas, the way that police departments lobby and the messaging that they push out, they don't do it in an isolated fashion. It's coordinated. There are these big swings that happen on the national political stage, if you will. We were at one moment with police reform and abolishing the police, defunding them with Black Lives Matter. The immediate pushback within six months was there's a crime wave. There's a crime wave. There's a crime wave. We need to support our cops. Now we're at the point where people are basically committing acts of vigilante violence because they have it in their head that things are so out of control in New York. Homeless man is choked to death because he's having an episode on the train. San Francisco, this fire commissioner is going around bear spraying people who are camping out on the streets. This is the sort of like back and forth swing that oftentimes starts with people who are trying to protect their budget line, who are trying to protect their political power. And it ends up with consequences like that where people take it to that level. And I think that looking at law enforcement as a political actor is really important for understanding how we are, where we are in the society and also understanding the ways in which you can try and rein them back in and keep your boot on their neck. Because realistically, if there's no oversight, if oversight is pulled back, there's a reactionary core at the heart of American law enforcement. It's always been there. We documented it back basically to the turn of the century in Oakland in Justice One City, which is a newer city in the States. If you let that go, that core will rise up and basically take over the department. That's what happened with the riders. That's what they were. They were a representation of a hard core that had existed in Oakland for decades. And I think that that's really a really, I think that's a critical takeaway for readers from this book. Yeah, I would absolutely agree. Well folks, the book is called The Writers Come Out at Night, Brutality Corruption and Cover Up in Oakland. It's by Ali Winston, who you've just been listening to. And Darwin Bond Graham, I can't recommend it enough. Ali, thank you so much for being on the show. Thank you so much, Robert. Grab a shiny new pair of mouth sears for you and the kids. This is a Walt Disney World authorized seller undercover tourists. Let's you enjoy the most magical place on earth and save up to $82 per ticket. That means more pirates, more teacups and more magic moments together. For less, you know you just can't wait to go. Visit now to book your hotel in Car rental and enjoy 30% off your Walt Disney World experience. And with a 365 day refund guarantee, there's no excuse. For the best TV viewing experience, witness the coziest maroons, the most vibrant and brightest moons, the areas and darkest tombs and radiant and vivid hues in any type of room with the Neo QLED and OLED TVs by Sam Sum. We're supposed to say Sam Sum, but that didn't rhyme so you're welcome. Sam Sum, more wild than ever. $25 all in tickets. Oh my goodness, it could happen here. Not true. Well, let the audience decide. So James, today you and I are here to talk to a journalist that we both like quite a lot. Amy Westervalt. Amy is the host of a podcast called Drilled, which focuses on shady stuff done by the oil and gas industry. And particularly we're talking about season eight of Drilled, which is focused on what Exxon is doing in a South American country called Gayana. And it's a really fascinating story. There's a lot here, including kind of the way in which oil and gas companies move in and in a kind of predatory way, create contracts with smaller countries that don't maybe have the legal resources to set themselves up as well as the otherwise would that don't have kind of the long basis of environmental law rulings that like areas that have been, you know, used for by the oil and gas industry for longer periods of time have. And kind of the fight by activists in that country to rest control back from Exxon. And a bunch of other stuff besides Amy, welcome to the show. I think that's enough of an intro from me. Hi, thank you. Thanks for having me. Yeah, Amy, I'm curious kind of what got you started thinking about and focusing on and really digging into what's been happening in Gayana because obviously this is, you know, the oil and gas industry is a topic of concern for most progressives. But people tend to focus on, you know, kind of the Permian basin, the Gulf of Mexico, obviously the Middle East, these places that are kind of seen as traditionally more the the bread basket of the oil and gas industry. Yeah. I started looking at Gayana because I follow a lot of Exxon's shareholder briefings and reporting and I kept seeing them talking about the project in Gayana and just have like the projections kept increasing so quickly and it got to a point where I was like hold on a second. They are projecting that this is going to be producing more than the Permian basin by 2025. And this is a country that shipped its first barrel of oil in 2019. That's incredible, kind of unheard of that something would happen that fast. So, and I happened like just so happened to have had a friend, years and years and years ago in San Francisco who like helped do, I don't know like marketing for the Tourism Board in Gayana and was constantly telling me about how Gayana was this amazing eco-tourism destination. So, I had this, so I had this like this idea of Gayana in my head is like eco-tourism central and then I kept seeing all of these updates around, around drilling there. So that's kind of what initially got me interested and then I got a press release about a lawsuit being filed there by an attorney who was trying to kind of stop the oil drilling. So yeah. Yeah, and this attorney has a pretty interesting backstory herself, right? She does and that was also very interesting because she actually was in house counsel for BP in the North. Yeah, the Deepwater Horizon folks. Yeah, exactly, exactly. So she grew up in Gayana, her family lap when she was around 12 or 13. There was quite a bit of political unrest in Gayana spurred like so many places by GAA. And, oh gosh. Like the history of Gayana is really interesting. But anyway, so there was a lot of political unrest, family felt a bit unsafe. They left. They went to Zambia and then Trinidad and then you wound up going to school in England. And went to Oxford. You know, has this like very posh English accent now. And then at one point decided she was working for BP and traveling all over and just kind of got fed up with it and wanted to move back to. Yeah. So she moved back, started working for a corporate law firm there to get very interested in environmental laws because at the time the country was just starting to write its first environmental laws. This was like mid-90s-ish. Yeah. And one of the things she'd make a point on in the podcast that is really is interesting is, you know, I grew up in Texas and I had a lot of friends from the Permian basin. And you don't think of it and you don't think of the Gulf as like an area of strong environmental regulations. And if you've spent any time in the Gulf of Mexico, you certainly don't feel like it's not going to feel that way. But it actually, I mean, it is not, which is not to say that they're strong enough, you know, it's not to say that they are sufficient. But it's, I mean, and it's not just that there's stronger regulations there and the regulations are largely a product of how long people have been taking gas out of oil out of the ground. But it's also that because it's got a century, you know, or so of being utilized by the industry, there's kind of a, there's a level of institutional knowledge built up about how to do it relative, which number one speaks to how inherently dangerous it is because the deep water horizon disaster happens right in the heart of this area. But it also means that when you've got a company like Exxon starting work in a place like Giana, they don't have any of that, any of that build up, build up kind of competence or expertise in sort of dealing with these problems. Yeah, that's right. They don't have, you don't have kind of the heavy bench full of, you know, experts just hang it out looking for jobs, you don't have the disaster response to expertise in case of a spill, for example. And you also don't have the regulatory oversight expertise, which has been a huge problem in Giana. They got, they got a grant from the World Bank at one point. This was also super controversial. It was really interesting to me. Yeah. Yeah. It was right like right before the World Bank issued its whole, you know, we're not going to recommend fossil fuel development as much anymore kind of pronouncement. They sort of fast-tracked this grant to Giana to create and grow like a petroleum regulatory department in its EPA because they didn't, like it didn't exist before. So they started to build that out. And, but you know, it's almost like they're building the regulatory apparatus as they're starting to drill. So you can imagine like how well that's going to go. I think you said in your podcast that they dropped this hundreds of pages like environmental risk report and it got approved the same day that they received it, right? That's right. Yeah, it's like stamped like the date of receipt and the date of approval are stamped on the report and it's the same day. So there's not a lot of oversight happening. Hey, some people are speed readers, Amy, you know? Yeah. You got a whole team of them. They spent all that well bank money on speed reading courses. Yeah, yeah, really. Really good. Yeah, and a lot of adder all I'm going to guess. Yes. Yes. They're very focused over there. Yes. Yeah, so, you know, I mean, they, I actually talked to, I actually talked to this guy who ran the EPA in day on a like the first couple of years that they were producing oil and he had formerly worked for the Department of Energy in the US and was trying to set up like real oversight and like his recommendation was that they have an EPA staff member actually physically on the production vessel at all times, which like, yeah, no one was into so that guy got fired. Great. So maybe talking about like the legal panacea of Texas and like the different system in Ghana will be a good way to segue into talking about this, this like rights based approach that they used to, I guess, ultimately trying to ensure some kind of responsibility was taken by the oil companies. Yeah. Yeah. Do you want to explain that for people? In terms of like the right to a healthy environment. Yeah. I think it's very, yeah. Yeah. It's really interesting. It's super juicy. So Melinda Jinky, this lawyer who you worked for BP from Ghana, moved home, starts working on these laws. She helped to write the country's first kind of environmental protection act, which established its EPA. And then in 1996 and again in 2003, there were some revisions to the Constitution. So in early 2000s, she worked on getting a right to a healthy environment, integrated into the Constitution, which basically just says, you know, every citizen has the right to a livable environment for, you know, themselves and for future generations. So that actually opened up the ability for for citizens to sue the government over this oil building project. There's a couple of people who are doing that and they are arguing that the government is violating their right to a healthy environment by not just permitting this offshore drilling, but doing it in this really kind of reckless way where there are sort of rubber stamping permits. They're not really providing any oversight. Exxon like Bragg's constantly about how this project is like, you know, we've done in five years what usually takes 10. I asked them, I was like, oh, is there like a new technology or like a new drilling approach or something? And the answer is more or less boils down to a very quote unquote collaborative government. So oh, dear. You know, oh boy, that's excited. Yeah, that's good. You need to dig into that. It's a Zuckabag approach. You move fast, break things. Nothing goes wrong. Yes, totally, totally. Exactly. The guy in these government has this idea, I think, that they've actually said this out loud a few times. Like net zero is commitments to net zero is sort of like their timeline. You know, where they're like, okay, well, you know, everyone wants to get to net zero by such and such dates. So we need to get oil out of the ground as fast as possible and sell it so that we can meet that zero. Right? Yeah, well. And so because of how really crappy the contract is for Anna, they are kind of incentivized to do that as well because the faster they can get oil out of the ground and sold the faster they might be able kind of get to a place where actually getting sort of their promised share of the oil money. So they're incentivized to move fast and kind of look the way on stuff. I mean, there's the first two years of that project, Exxon, talked publicly about the fact that a pretty key piece of equipment on the boat was broken for two years. Two years. Yeah. That's cool. Yeah. Yeah. And again, it's like, it's an offshore deep water drilling project. This is like the most risky type of oil drilling there is. There's an enormous amount of pressure at that level of depth of the ocean. It's exactly the sort of situation that deep water still happened in. And a lot of similar kind of approaches to maintenance and safety happening. So yeah, not great. Yeah. I wanted to talk a little bit. One of the things that you kind of open up the series with that I found very, very intriguing and it's something I've heard from other journalists in the same beat as you is that when you start work on a project that focuses on Exxon, some peculiar things start to happen. Just like nothing, nothing, nothing we can say for certain is like tied to Exxon mobile. That's right. Yes. You do notice some like weird things. I wanted to chat a little bit about that because it's, it does scan with other things I've heard from from other folks. It's true. It's true. And I, you know, I report on all of the oil comp and then of them particularly like journalists, especially journalists, then they, you know, will kind of do the usual thing of sending you nasty emails or refusing to have their executives talk to you and it's like, but with Exxon, every time I'm working on an Exxon story, it's just like, you know, if I'm traveling all my travel plans get canceled, there's always just, there's always just weird stuff that happens like, you know, you start to feel like being watched and followed a lot. And, and yeah, it's super not just me. That experience, I know that everyone I know that has reported on them has said that stuff and it looks like there's, you know, just a kind of an intimidation thing that they like to do. I actually was surprised that, that Steve Call who wrote the book Private Empire about Exxon said to me and I have this in the podcast too that he has, you know, reported on al-Qaeda and reported on the CIA. And if he's ever like disappeared, he'll tell everyone he knows that it's probably gone. So, yeah. And that definitely happened on this project too. Like we, my hotel room got canceled. The hotel room also got broken into. Yeah. And it was one of those where it's like, I had cash on the nightstand. It was still there. But like my computer was open with like certain files open. And I don't keep like, you know, sensitive files on my laptop and even in my hotel room. But it was definitely like, okay, this seems very pointed. And, you know, yeah, it's intimidation. Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. Totally, yeah, normal and good. And I know people always ask me, they're like, are you afraid of getting sued by Exxon? And I was like, well, I guess if I had assets, I would be afraid. Yeah, it's not. Not the suing. Yeah. It's the most concerning thing. Yeah, exactly. Yeah, exactly. Yeah. But like, I wonder, I was really interested in, I get this legal approach which is very successful in Guyana, right? And if we compare that, like if we come back to the United States, and I know there's a court case, I think it was like, it was, I'm pretty sure it's Boulder Colorado. I might be wrong, but it was somewhere like that where they tried to sue oil companies for causing fires, right? Yes, there's a climate liability case there. And it's still going actually. It's still alive. They just got a move in their favor at the Supreme Court. Because yeah, isn't the case in the US is a bit different, right? So we don't have this constitutional right to like a healthy environment and I'm sure don't. Yeah, let me tell you. Although actually, guess who does have that in the US, the Montana. Montana. Yeah. Yeah. And Montana, yes. And so there's like a case there are actually that's invoking their state constitutional right, which is very interesting. There's this. A lot of people don't know this about kind of the northern western part of the country. Mountain West. Montana is. It's not really P.W., but it's the mountain west, which is that they had, especially kind of in like the 70s and 80s, this weird history of like Republican governors, I think into the 90s, the early 90s too, like Republican state leaders who were also, because I guess our national discourse wasn't so inherently toxic, really progressive in bizarre way. And it's one of like probably the best governor Oregon ever had was a Republican who's like one of his chief accomplishments was he made all of the coastline in Oregon, both like Lake and River coastline and the ocean coastline public property. He like set it up so that it's regulated like highways basically so that no one can own private beaches. Now, there's some little janky ways kind of around aspects of that, but like as a general rule, it's a really positive thing. And it's like not what you would expect from a Republican. I think the same thing is true of that lawn Montana where it just like you used to be able to have a public, I mean, Nixon created the EPA, right? It just didn't used to be the same kind of partisan that it is today. Even like in the early Trump era, there were a decent number of Republican folks who like specifically opposed drilling in bass ears or like D. D. Yeah, but it was interesting wherever they went hunting or something. Yeah, 100 percent was like, yeah, yeah, because we, I was like the outdoor industry, they had to stop doing trade shows in Utah because Utah was going to pass the governor of Utah supported demonetizing it. A lot of them like quote unquote hook and bullet people were like, yeah, fuck this, it's bad. Yeah. I mean, it's the same. I think it's the same category as like John McCain having a good take on torture, right? Where it's like, yeah, I mean, they live right there. Of course, they don't want to destroy it. Yeah. But everybody's okay with poisoning the gulf or the stuff that the coke industries was guilty of having like fucking pipelines full of holes running under towns that then explode. Right. Yeah. Yeah. Exactly. And that is actually like the number, it's like the number one thing that gets people on board with environmental regulation is like having something happen in their community where they're like, wait a minute. This doesn't seem fair. Same with Pennsylvania, like people were really into fracking until it became like, wait, so if my neighbor has a lease and that lease ends up poisoning my well, I have no records. Yes, that's how it works. Welcome to America. Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. So now, I mean, they're all like actually there's there's towns and Pennsylvania now that are actually speaking of the right space thing that are invoking home rule and baking rights of nature into their charters. And these are like pretty conservative districts too. And the whole reason they're doing it have more local control over land use decisions. Yeah. Yeah. Yeah, which is probably I'm sure it mixed bag to some degree. Exactly. Because you could imagine that going in a budget different ways. Yeah. Yeah. School board level. It's chin out against it. Exactly. Yeah. Right now, it's like to get rid of fracking waste sites, but it could easily be, yeah, we don't want any, I don't know, integrated schools here, for example. Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. Exactly. Yeah. I wonder like, it's different in the US in the sense that like, I've only said right, this case in Guyana went to the Supreme Court of Guyana, right? And is that right? Several, so, so, um, Melinda has now filed seven different cases. Yeah. She's, she's very busy. Um, and most of them have wound up at gay at the high court of Guyana, which is their Supreme Court. They just had a big verdict in another case that she filed, which is really interesting and potentially huge game changer for, um, oil drilling kind of around the globe. They, so in the environmental permit that axon had to get in order to start drilling off shore, it is laid out as a requirement of that permit that they have to have insurance policy from an independent insurer. So they can't self-insure, which is what oil companies usually do. They have, they all have like their own insurance companies to ensure their project. Yeah. It's a great, it's bizarre. But anyway, so it really, it stipulates an independent insurance company and an unlimited parent company guarantee. That's really, really huge because basically in Guyana, as in most other places that they're operating outside of the US, they use like a local subsidiary that has very few assets. So they have SO exploration and production, Guyana limited, which is worth, you know, maybe $2 billion on paper. And so, you know, it's very handy for them to, you know, something bad happens and the subsidiary might get drained, but the parent company is protected. It was actually written into their permits. They had to have this unlimited guarantee that they will cover whatever damages, which is important because all of the environmental impact assessments, you know, Exxon's own environmental impact assessments, they're saying if there were a well blowout, which is like what happened with deep water, it would hit up to 14 different Caribbean islands, plus various countries and like the northern coast of South America. So like a really big problem. And these are mostly countries that lie in tourism and for their economy. So the argument that malinubate was look because the government has been lacked in regulation. And now they haven't required this guarantee. You're opening up the citizens of this country to risk because if there's a spell like this, these countries could come to Guyana asking to be paid for damages and we're not able to put in now you've like taken, you know, Exxon paying for it off the table. So anyway, the judge wrote in their favor and said, yeah, you're right, Exxon, you need to have this in writing within 30 days. Oh wow. Yeah, it's incredible. I mean, that could really make, it would change the math considerably for this project. And I would say most other projects that they're working on, the EPA is, it's the EPA and Exxon were sort of like co-defendants in this case. EPA is appealing also like just by way, when your EPA is a co-defendant with an oil company, there's something very wrong. Yeah, they might not be doing the P part. Yeah, exactly. So they're appealing and you know, there's a lot of government corruption and stuff going on. So we'll see, we'll see what happens. But this judge, everyone was like, I was talking to a journalist that we've been looking with there and she was like, yes, everyone's very rude for his safety because like this was a big deal and he really, I mean, in like the most prim and proper legalese possible, he repeatedly was like, EPA, why are you just being ex-alves bitch? Yeah. It's not like bitching here. What's going on? It was like, it was like a real like, whoa, bomb of a ruling. So yeah, that's a big win. The constitutional case is still, they're still waiting for a ruling in that case. But that's also the Supreme Court that will be ruling on it because it's a constitutional argument. Yeah. A talking of being people's bitch, it's probably time for us to hear from our advertisers. Oh, yes. Great. Great. Great. Great goal, James. Yeah. Perfect. You laid off and I just dunked it. These advertisers, none of whom are in any way involved in the oil and gas industry. Absolutely. We actually can't promise that. But you know, pretend we can. We're back and continue to be blameless. All right. We should be moving on to talking about, we shared a little before this started and one of the things that kind of is perennially on or perpetually on our our our beat is different laws and rules and attempts around the world to crack down on the ability of people to protest and exercise dissent. Which you have some some some thoughts on and also some some information on kind of the way in which the oil the oil and gas industry is tied to a lot of these. Yes. Legal kind of assault. Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. They are very into cracking down on protests and I think that I think is really interesting right now is that you have the fossil fuel industry on the one hand working behind the scenes to you know, the American fuel and petrochemical manufacturers, which is the lobbying group for like coke industries and a bunch of oil companies and all of that. They helped to write sample legislation in the way of standing rock to pass around all of these Republicans that would increase the ins associated with protest and jail time. And they also did a lot to try to broaden it out to include organizations. So you know, anyone any organization being to organize or plan protests can also be fine in Kansas. They included a re go charge in that. So you know, they're trying to make protest organized crime. Yeah. But at the same time that they're doing all of that stuff, the number one argument that the fossil fuel industry is making in all of the climate cases against it in the US is a corporate free speech argument. And that is like it's terrifying. So actually, you mentioned Boulder before. There's been there's like 24ish of these cases where towns or these are states are saying, hey, it's really expensive for us to adapt to all these climate risks and it would be less expensive if the oil and gas companies hadn't kept everyone from doing anything about this for the last 40 years. Therefore, they should pay some portion of the cost. That's like the basic argument. And the oil companies for the last three or four years have been saying, you know, oh, you're trying to get around federal law by bringing these in state court and these cases belong in stroke order. The Supreme Court finally declined to hear that argument that Department of Justice was like they can stay in state court. It's fine. So that argument is sort of dead in the water. But they've already started with like their next attempt to get these cases to the Supreme Court. And it's this free speech argument that they've been making, which basically says, look, anything we've ever said about climate change was in the interest of shaping policy. That makes it political speech or in like legal words, petitions speech. And therefore protected by the First Amendment. Now they're saying in these cases, our First Amendment argument is foundational to our arguments. Therefore, these can't be in state court. State courts can't rule on like key First Amendment issues. So I'm like convinced that one of these cases is going to be the next citizens United and the Supreme Court. That's very, very scary. Yeah. Yeah. You know, they're talking about blaring that like they're basically saying like lying can be free, can be protected if it's in the interest of shaping policy a particular way. Yeah. It's fine if we're okay with lying if it's good for us. Yeah. Which is, you know, is my attitude whatever I'm pulled over by the police, but probably probably oil and gas companies should be held by a high. Exactly. So you can see why it's like bad, but like really for everything, very bad. If that person gets that, yeah. So yeah, they're doing that at the same time that they're trying to limit individual free speech. And I think that parallel is, well, a non-accidental, but very, very gross and disturbing. Yeah, very much so. Like, I think it's interesting to get the try, like they very clearly see this Supreme Court as like the one to go for it. Not that it's going any more anytime soon, I guess. But didn't Amy County barracks like dad wasn't had dad like a child. For sure. Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. You were for shuffle like 20 years. He sure did. Of course. Because, you know, there's a class thing happening. And she never recuses herself on any of these cases ever. Also, Alito, I think it's Alito has stock in Conoco Philips. Cool. So that cool. That's cool. Yeah. You'll probably find out that Clarence Thomas owns an oil rig. Yeah, I was gifted to him by someone. Yeah, I do with a Nazi statue. Yeah. Yeah. So yeah, I think it's some, it's an end. I mean, they have said out loud in multiple places that the whole push to criminalize protest was 100% a reaction to Standing Rock. Yeah. They were very freaked out by that. I think they always have like an organized reaction to anything that indigenous people are doing period. Yes. That's like that whole gross extra layer to it. And then actually else where to like in in Canada, this, like we're working with a reporter who's been looking into this in Canada for a while, his name's Jeff Dumbikey. And he's found that there's the the oil and gas companies there like wrote down and strategist. I don't know why these guys write this stuff down all the time. They wrote down. We're going to make First Nations people face of climate protests because that'll make it you. Villify climate protest in the press. Wow. Yeah. Fuck Jesus Christ. Sorry. That one fully sent me. Yeah, yeah, so I'm very similar thing there to where it's like increasing fines and jail time and you know, yeah. It's interesting. Yeah. It's like in the US anyway, like if you look at the bleeding edge of settler colonialism, it's nearly always fossil fuel extraction, right? Like if like oak flat, the proposed extraction of lithium on tribal lands, like a lot of these, the nexus of like protest and yeah, like colonialism will be these, I guess not lithium is in a fossil fuel, but these extractive projects on tribal land. Yeah. Yes. Yes. Which is why actually the the rights of nature stuff is becoming really interesting in tribal court, so I don't know if you guys followed this but like with the line three protests, the tribe there, they actually filed a case against a, the Minnesota Department of Public Works or something like that. And they were like, we have a, in their case, it's Monoman, the rights of Monoman. So Monoman is, oh God, it just went out of my mind entirely. It's wild rice. Sorry. Okay. Monoman is the word, is the indigenous word for wild rice and they have rights for this rice written into their tribal laws. And so they're saying, look, based on our treaties, you are actually violating this law. And therefore we can, we can take you to court and tribal court to stop this pipeline. Interesting. It didn't work to stop line three, but actually the case is still making its way through the courts because the Minnesota DPW tried to say, look, tribal court has, you should know for us and the state court was like, yeah, they do actually because treaties exist. Yeah. So it's really interesting because now it's the same tribe that is potentially impacted by line five in Michigan and they are looking at using the same argument and it could end up actually working there because there's now been enough time that, you know, it could make its way through the courts and set a precedent. But anyway, yeah, it's really, really, really interesting. Yeah. So that's very, that's really weirdly similar to the Kumai people here in San Diego who are challenging the construction or quote unquote repair, which is not what's happening of border with the whole pit. Yes. That's what they all say about the pipelines, too. It's always repairing an old pipeline, but you look at the plan and it's like, that's a whole new ass pipeline in a different place than it was before. Yeah. Yeah, they were repairing a three foot fence with a 30 foot steel barrier. But yeah, they cut directly through burial grounds here and they're repairing it by destroying the burial grounds, which again, they've opposed with mixed results, I guess, but it's, yeah, I guess if folks are listening and they're interested, there are a lot of places where they can, they can help those struggles, like different ways to do that, that that might be more effective here than going to the Supreme Court, given the Supreme Court's composition, I guess. Exactly. Yeah. Exactly. That's why, yeah, with the, um, the tribal court stuff, I think will be interesting to watch in the next couple of years to see if they're able to, to do anything. But, you know, tribal solemnities all under attack by the Supreme Court. Yes. Yeah. Yeah. They're likely hit at this resulting in like, indigenous nations getting ever more fucked by the US, it's equally high. It's an likelihood of ever having success, I guess. Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. Anyway, sorry, I got really far afield there. The counter protest up is very, very, very much being driven by oil gas. And there's, it just keeps going too. I mean, every year there's like, you know, multiple more of these laws being proposed and passed. I think we're at 20. It's now have passed them 14 or 15 have actually implemented them. Yeah. And yeah, it's not, not great. No. I also think like, you know, you're seeing the expansion of the whole eco terrorist and really like come back with events too. I feel like that was something that happened in like early post 9, 11 days and is now happening again where it's, it's like, I don't know, let's expand the definition of terrorism to include environmental activists and then we can, you know, go after them with those charges too. Yeah. That happened in Cops City too, right? Are they using yes, yes, they are in the process. Yeah, I'm still doing that. Yeah. Um, great. Yeah. Well, Amy, this is all really important. Uh, this is why you're getting here. I'm super fun at parties. I'm so. No, no, no, we are, this is a, this is a real meeting of the people who are fun at parties. Sit down and you know that descent has been personalized. Yeah. I don't know, man, I guess I'll have a man happen like what do you want? The last party Robert and I attended together. We saw a car bomb happen. So at least that is a car bomb happened. Yeah. Yeah. I bring positive vibes. Oh, you're not. You're not talking about a monstridid car bomb. You know, yeah, yeah. Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. I'm sad. No, no, who's an Irish car? What a god more people. Um, uh, a little bit, uh, a little bit of IRA humor for audience. Um, okay, we should probably go. Yeah. I'm making the next slash motion. Yeah. Yeah. All right. Well, Amy Westerville, thank you so much for coming on today. And thank you for continuing to put out a podcast that is keep that can at least if people, you know, listen, keep them very updated on some of the most important climate related news going on today and some of the real like fuckery being carried out by the oil and gas industry. Again, the podcast is drilled season eight right now is about Exxon and Guyana. Amy, you have anything else you wanted to say before we roll out? No, that's it. Thanks for having me. This was fun. Yeah, thank you so much, Amy, really appreciate it. And, uh, yeah, uh, this has been Robert and James. Um, we should probably do something on the thames at some point, James, that'll rhyme. I know it's not pronounced that way. I know. This was just me. Let's do it anyway. We could call it Robert and Jim's on the tins. You know, there we go. Absolutely. You know, all right. Podcast is over. Hey, we'll be back Monday with more episodes every week from now until the heat death of the universe. It could happen here as a production of Cool Zone media. For more podcasts from Cool Zone media, visit our website or check us out on the I Heart radio app, Apple podcasts or wherever you listen to podcasts. You can find sources for it could happen here updated monthly at slash sources. I'm Malcolm Gladwell. I live way out in the country. I drive everywhere. And you know what scares me that feeling of finding myself stuck on the side of the road. But now all of us can avoid that pain by getting our vehicle the part it needs before that breakdown. Oh, no, moment with eBay guaranteed fit and over 122 million parts and accessories. You can make sure your ride stays running smoothly for the parts and accessories that fit your vehicle. Just look for the green check. Hit the right parts, the right fit and the right prices. eBay That's right. Eligible items only exclusions apply. Grab a shiny new pair of mouth sears for you and the kids. 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