Police Ring In New Year With Killing Spree Against Black People and Forest Defenders

People’s rage on the streets of Atlanta, January 21, 2023. Image: Fox 5 Atlanta

Comrade Toussaint

Lenin taught us long ago that the police are the armed body of men that work in the service of the ruling class. In a capitalist-imperialist country such as ours, the police are not friends of the people, or impartial arbiters, they are a gang that serves the class that owns our lives, houses, workplaces, and governments. This is borne out by recent events in Atlanta, where a nonviolent defender of Weelaunee Forest, was brutally murdered, and seven of their colleagues charged with domestic terrorism charges. Only by American police logic can those who have committed no violent offense be charged with domestic terrorism for demonstrating against a multimillion dollar, undemocratic, destructive training center for the police, which the masses call “Cop City“. At this Cop City, underwritten by such corporations as Coca-Cola, Delta, and UPS, the police will learn more techniques to brutalize, torture, and harass the people of Atlanta and other cities. The city administration in this heavily Black city say that it has mass support, yet have provided no statistics to prove this assertion, which makes it a bold-faced lie. This project was foisted on the people by imperialist corporations and their neocolonial city government, and the people rightly rebel against the destruction of nature for this facility.

The shooting of Manuel Esteban Paez Terán, known to eternity as “Tortuguita” (Little Turtle), on Wednesday shortly after 9AM demonstrated the capacity of the police to lie on their feet, claiming that Terán shot at them, injuring an officer, and was cut down by return fire. Terán’s colleagues have consistently asserted that this is a lie from the beginning, and issued a statement calling for justice and highlighting a life which was spent in service to the people. A subsequent press release speaks of the continued destruction and fascist tactics used by the police:

Police have repeatedly raided this public park, flattened community gardens and art installations, attacked protestors with chemical weapons and rubber bullets, and threatened lethal force. During past raids, police have consistently escalated violent tactics on peaceful people who were sitting in trees or walking through the public park. Since June 6, 2022, activists and community members fighting to Defend the Atlanta Forest and Stop Cop City have been demanding that officers stop bringing weapons into the forest after APD pointed their weapons at peaceful protestors.

The police and local news are working together to control the flow of information, leaving us with vague news reports that suggest the officer fired at the civilian in self-defense. We know they will say and do anything to prevent an Atlanta officer from being viewed as another Derek Chauvin, including witholding, distorting, or deleting evidence. Supporters of the movement are calling on legal observers and journalists to document the violent police tactics being used against protestors.

Since the fatal shooting, this morning’s operation has continued with Brasfield and Gorrie’s heavy machinery entering the forest and cops shooting pepper balls at people who remain in the park–as if nothing has happened. The loss of our lives remains meaningless to the police. Police killed a forest defender for loving this earth, for taking a stand against the ongoing destruction of the planet and its people. Indiscriminate police murder, unfettered police violence is exactly why people have, for two years, called for the Cop City project to be cancelled immediately. As politicians invest in cops, militarization and police budgets are only increasing. Meanwhile, police murders peaked in 2022: U.S. cops killed 100 people every month. 

The murder of climate activists and land defenders is a fact of life in Brazil, Colombia, and other countries in the periphery, and it is a fact of life in the United States as well. All who publicly stand for the people are at risk for assassination and police coverup. Climate change is an existential threat to the human species, yet those in power seek to limit struggle to continue to extract profits and secure their own way out. The welfare of the people is only considered to the extent that we are useful as workers, hence pittance wages, slum housing, and shitty food that workers are forced to swallow, and hence domestic terrorism charges for those who have never committed anything more terroristic than object with their bodies to the destruction of nature for the well-being and pampering of the pig.

The people did not simply sit quietly. On Saturday night, the masses rose in anger in the streets of Atlanta, smashing and burning police cars, attacking the headquarters of the Atlanta Police Foundation (the crooked nonprofit that channels resources to the pigs), and smashing a Wells Fargo, which supports the APF. The masses expressed their rage in other cities as well, with the struggle going overseas to Greece and Rojava. All eyes are on Atlanta, just as they are on Memphis, where New Afrikan neocolonial pigs Tadarrius Bean, Demetrius Haley, Emmitt Martin III, Desmond Mills Jr. and Justin Smith beat Tyre Nichols to death and were subsequently fired in fear of the people’s rage when they see the video of this incident, which has yet to be released. Los Angeles saw the tazing murder of Keenan Anderson, cousin of BLM co-founder Patrice Cullors. It is obvious by the decision of the police to start the year off with a killing spree that we are in for yet another year of struggle, which can only serve to elevate the people’s consciousness and develop further the movement for the reconstitution of the Communist Party which can only happen with the recruitment and training of cadres from the most advanced and militant ranks of the struggle on the ground.

Compare the treatment of land and water defenders at Standing Rock, Weelaunee, and other struggles to the treatment of fascist murderers such as Dylann Roof, who was treated to a meal from Burger King after slaughtering 9 Black people at Emanuel AME Church in Charleston, SC in 2015. Or the comradely interactions between the Proud Boy street fascists and the police in various cities. The ruling class and its armed wing, the police and military, cater to and support those who offer it support, and join together to attack warriors of the people. Only through iron discipline and organization of people’s forces can our fallen be avenged.

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