Deafening Silence From Georgia Democrats Raphael Warnock and Jon Ossoff After Police Kill 'Cop City' Protester, Charge Others with Domestic Terrorism
19 Stop Cop City protesters have been charged with domestic terrorism; alleged crimes include fleeing police and causing an officer "scrapes and cuts," possessing road flares and incendiary devices
On the first day of Black history month, Democratic Georgia Senators Raphael Warnock and Jon Ossoff continued their weeks-long silence after the unprecedented killing by Georgia police of a beloved environmental protester who was demonstrating against the proposed $90 million militarized police compound in Atlanta protesters call “Cop City.”
On January 18th, the Georgia Bureau of Investigations [GBI], Atlanta Police, DeKalb County police, Georgia State patrol, and the FBI raided the part of the Weelaunee Forest where protesters were encamped in what they called a “clearing” operation. During the raid, police shot and killed Manuel Terán, a longtime activist known as “Tortuguita.” Police, without providing any evidence, claimed Terán shot at them and they shot back in self-defense. As is typical of mainstream corporate media, national and local news outlets rushed to report the police account as fact.
On Tuesday, Atlanta Mayor Andre Dickens held a press conference announcing Cop City would move forward despite the police killing of Terán and the continued protests against the so-called police “training center.”
Warnock and Ossoff, whose respective victories in 2020 Senate runoffs unexpectedly handed Democrats control of the Senate, have also said nothing about the alarming spree of arrests of 19 Stop Cop City protesters—some of whom Status Coup reported have been charged with domestic terrorism based on highly flimsy and dubious charges.
Both Warnock and Ossoff’s office have not respond to multiple requests for comment from Status Coup about Terán killing and the domestic terrorism charges.
On January 23rd, Status Coup’s Tina-Desiree Berg reported on-the-ground in Atlanta from a protest in Atlanta against Cop City. The demonstration, which occurred in response to the police killing of Terán days earlier, led to police vehicles being lit on fire and at least five protesters being arrested. Watch some of the protest captured by Status Coup below.
In response to those protests, Senator Warnock issued a tweet bemoaning the “violence,” presumably referring to the cop car lit ablaze and property damage. The Senator, recently re-elected for his first full term, invoked Martin Luther King Jr. “As Dr. King said, violence never brings permanent peace.”
Kamau Franklin, an Atlanta organizer and activist that has been one of the leaders of the Stop Cop City movement, criticized Warnock’s response.
“I think it’s pretty sad that the first statement on cop city from the inheritor of Kings church is one that gives cover to police continued violence against protesters,” Franklin told Status Coup. “In addition, King recognized the role of the police in Black communities and would probably have been a forest defender himself.”
Notably, Warnock and Ossoff have said nothing on the escalating police-led violence against Cop City protesters in their state: the killing of Terán, the questionable and unsubstantiated claims by police that Terán shot at police first, the brutal tactics police have used to threaten protesters, or the domestic terrorism charges against protesters exercising their first amendment rights. Several protesters Status Coup spoke to said that, to their knowledge, none of the protesters encamping in the forest in opposition to Cop City had weapons with them—including Terán.
"As far as I knew no [protester] had any arms in the forest at all,” a protester who was arrested and charged with domestic terrorism at the same time Terán was killed, told Status Coup.
That protester, who by all accounts was arrested simply for encamping in the forest in protest against Cop City, described gruesome tactics police have deployed against unarmed peaceful protesters.
“There’s a history of violence from police on non violent protesters in this forest. They’ve used tear gas, they’ve used to military-grade CS gas, they’ve used pepper bullets, they’ve used rubber bullets, and they’ve sent dogs after people,” the protester, arrested and charged with domestic terrorism on the same day Terán was killed, told Status Coup’s Desiree Berg. “I was afraid for my life honestly and I was afraid for the lives of my friends for good reason, apparently.”
As police approached this protester’s tent on January 18th in Weelaunee Forest, the protester claims police threatened to unleash their dogs on them: “We have a K9, don’t get bit, don’t get bit! They kept threatening me with the dog, They said we’re gonna send the dog in,” the protester, who Status Coup granted anonymity to as their legal case proceeds, said.
For nearly 24 hours, the police who arrested the protester and police in the jail they were held in did not tell them why they were arrested or what they were being charged with. “Never once said what I was being charged with or why I was being detained,” the protester told Status Coup. Once in the jail, the protester claimed, police laughed at them when they asked to call a lawyer.
The full interview between the arrested protester and Desiree Berg below.
Unsurprisingly, local and national media responded to the tense protest by pushing characterizations—fed to them by George police and politicians—as “domestic terrorists.” The escalation equates Americans’ exercising their first amendment right to protest with Americans’ responsible for plotting and carrying out acts like mass shootings.
Both Ossoff and Warnock have called for the passage of the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act—a bill that if enacted into law would not have saved George Floyd’s life. Under Democratic control of the Senate and House in 2021 and 2022, the bill had many of the most popular and effective provisions stripped out, including ending qualified immunity for police and making it easier to prosecute officers on the federal level for civil rights violations.
For more information about Cop City, watch Status Coup’s Tina-Desiree Berg’s ON-THE-GROUND reporting and interview with Stop Cop City activists in Atlanta. SUPPORT Status Coup’s ON-THE-GROUND reporting as a member for as low as $5-10 bucks a month…it’s how we keep growing and funding real reporting across America on the stories the corporate media COVERS UP.
They did not "wait to weigh in." Warnock came forward quickly to align himself with the Establishment. He sanctimoniously deplored the "violence" of the response of a population which has long since made clear their response to Surveillance Capitalism. It is always interesting to watch the "reasonable, calm" responses of those who reflexively jump back toward their overlords in every situation. Mr. Neville Chamberlain Revkin just wants "Peace in our time."
Ask the people of the Donbas who placed their hopes in the Minsk negotiations. Hitler, Bandera, Lance-Bottoms: you always get the same thing for negotiating with fascists.
Many questions need answers. But it's appropriate for the senators to wait to weigh in on the fatal shooting given the evidence that Teran owned a pistol, that pistol ended up at #copcity, and a bullet from that pistol wounded an officer. Teran's Linkedin page confirms he lived in Alpharetta Georgia, in 2020 - the year records show he bought the Smith & Wesson pistol under an address there. https://twitter.com/Revkin/status/1621226400572231682 There should be a careful independent investigation.