NYC: Activists arrested for shutting down traffic outside of BlackRock

cross-posted from Climate Defenders

Today, five were arrested taking action at investment giant BlackRock’s offices. BlackRock, the company that owns the world and that is torching it, has long been the target of climate activists.

The NYPD also is more interested in protecting the profits of the billionaire class than the interests of the people and planet.

This is part of a waves of action happening across New York in the lead up to the March to End Fossil Fuels this weekend.

CalFire Faces Opposition for Avoiding Environmental Review and Tribal Consultation

cross-posted from Bay Area Coalition for Headwaters

CalFire Faces Opposition for Avoiding Environmental Review and Tribal Consultation

Jackson Forest advocates will testify at Jackson Advisory Meeting in Ft. Bragg

Sept. 12, 2023

For immediate release


Matt Simmons, staff attorney, Environmental Protection Information Center (EPIC) (310) 666-8912

Andy Wellspring (707) 367-4701


Ft. Bragg, CA-A large turnout of forest advocates and the public is expected at the upcoming meeting of the Jackson Advisory Group (JAG) on Sept. 15, 2023, at the First Presbyterian Church, 367 South Sanderson Way in Fort Bragg, to discuss the future of the Jackson Demonstration State Forest (JDSF). The meeting is scheduled for 9 am to 12:30 pm.

The JAG is the citizen body tasked with advising CalFire in their management of Jackson Demonstration State Forest. The Coalition to Save Jackson Forest is calling for environmental review of a new management plan and is insisting that no new timber harvest plans be considered during the process.

CalFire, the agency that manages JDSF, is asking the JAG to approve the “Scope of Work” for preparation of a new forest Management Plan at this meeting. The management of Jackson Forest has generated increased controversy and sharp criticism over the last few years due to unfulfilled promises of crafting a co-management agreement with area tribes in accordance with a state directive from Governor Newsom.* CalFire has now omitted environmental review of the new forest management plan, ignoring climate and other environmental considerations, and is restarting logging plans, ending a pause in logging put in place specifically to work these issues out.

Both State Senator McGuire and State Representative Wood have stated in writing that a new management plan is needed before new timber harvest plans are approved. Kim Rodrigues, the facilitator hired to run JAG meetings in a more collaborative manner, recently quit, stating in her letter of resignation that the current process wasn’t working. Ms. Rodrigues stated “The process is not truly collaborative. CalFire announces the projects and timelines, seeks limited input with limited dialogue and makes decisions. I am willing to support a collaborative process if/when the State and CalFire commit to such a process.”

Priscilla Hunter, Tribal Historic Preservation Officer for the Coyote Valley Band of Pomo Indians, will be appearing at the JAG meeting to express the frustration of the Coyote Valley Band of Pomo Indians with CalFire’s failure to respond to the Tribe’s efforts to obtain from the State a mutually agreed upon definition of tribal co-management prior to CalFire moving forward with the drafting of a new Management Plan.  Last year CalFire suspended government to government consultation with the Tribe and simply moved forward with its own definition of what the state’s relationship with Tribes will be.

CalFire’s current proposed process for management plan revision includes only three meetings of what they call a ‘tribal advisory council.’ Prior advisory group recommendations on forest management at JDSF have been vetoed by the State Board of Forestry, and given this precedent the Tribe cannot accept merely an advisory group status. The Coyote Valley Band of Pomo Indians is calling for equal co-management, not advisory status, and has repeatedly requested over the past year that the State reinitiate government to government consultation with the Tribe to resolve this issue, rather than moving forward over tribal objection and unilaterally defining the Tribe’s role.

The California Democratic Party recently gave a unanimous official endorsement to tribal co-management in JDSF.  This represents statewide support for tribal co-management on a level heretofore not seen, as the Democratic Party represents 10 million registered California voters.

The Coalition to Save Jackson Forest, includes forestry experts, attorneys, activists and Mendocino County residents long involved in advocacy for preservation of the values of Jackson Forest —including protection of sites sacred to local tribes and mature redwood forest habitat, an important counter to the climate crisis in its carbon sequestration and storage capacity.

“The immediate concern is that CalFire is going forward with creating a new management plan without any intention to conduct environmental review of the new management plan, effectively limiting tribal and public participation and oversight of how Jackson Forest will be managed into the future,” said Matt Simmons, staff attorney for E.P.I.C. “The California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) is the foundational tool for protecting the environment when projects such as development, resource extraction, or changed forest management are proposed. CEQA defines a “project” as ‘an activity which may cause either a direct physical change in the environment, or a reasonably foreseeable indirect physical change in the environment…’ (Pub. Rec Code § 21065), so by skipping environmental review, CALFIRE is saying that their new management plan won’t change, or improve, the physical environment in JDSF.”

Additional concerns raised by members of the public include CalFire delegating tribal government to government consultation to a consultant hired by the State, the lack of tribal participation and leadership in the new management plan process, the fear that the process will be directed by Sacramento and not locals, and the fact that CalFire has restarted the process of approving logging projects.

CalFire’s proposal to launch an update of the Management Plan was initially met with support from the Coalition and the public, as the current plan is outdated. The current MP does not take into account the interest of the indigenous people whose ancestral homeland includes this forest, nor does it adequately consider sacred sites, nor make provision for the crucial role the forest’s redwoods play in mitigating the climate crisis. The current management prioritizes and indeed, mandates commercial timber harvest.



* Background on tribal involvement:

In 2019 Governor Newsom signed executive order N-15-19 which apologizes for the State’s historically sanctioned depredations and prejudicial policies against California Native Americans, reaffirming and incorporating by reference the principles of government-to-government engagement outlined in Executive Order B-10-11 and establishing a Truth and Healing Council. Executive Order B-10- 11 (Governor Brown, 2011) states that “Every state agency and department shall encourage communication and consultation with California Indian Tribes”.

In a further Statement of Administration Policy (2020), the Governor states that “… it is the policy of this administration to encourage every State agency, department, board and commission… subject to my executive control to seek opportunities to support California tribes’ co-management of and access to natural lands1 that are within a California tribe’s ancestral land and under the ownership or control of the State of California.” The Policy further states that “any action taken in accordance with this Policy shall: (i) comply with all applicable laws and regulations…”

Additionally Executive Order N-82-20, acknowledges that “since time immemorial, California Native Americans have stewarded, managed and lived interdependently with the lands that now make up the State of California.”

1 PRC § 9001.5(d)(2) Defines “Natural Lands” as “lands consisting of forests, grasslands, deserts, freshwater and riparian systems, wetlands, coastal and estuarine areas, watersheds, wildlands, or wildlife habitat, or lands used for recreational purposes such as parks, urban and community forests, trails, greenbelts, and other similar open- space land…” PRC 9001.5(d)(1) Defines “Working Lands” as “lands used for farming, grazing, or the production of forest products.” For purposes of this report, we assume JDSF contains both types of land.


Converge in Atlanta, Georgia from November 10-13, 2023. #StopCopCity

cross posted from the Atlanta Press Collective

Update: Block Cop City organizers now say the nationwide tour will cover 70 cities.

Just days after members of the clergy and other people of faith chained themselves to construction equipment at the proposed Atlanta Public Safety Training Center site, a new group, Block Cop City, announced plans for a mass action on Nov. 13 to halt construction of the facility.

“It is useless to wait,” the landing page of the group’s website reads. “With our future on the line and the whole world watching, we’ll take a stand to bend the course of history. If the city government does not halt construction in order to listen to the people, then we will simply have to do it ourselves: a People’s Stop Work Order.”

The group says it plans to hold a 50-city tour in the runup to the mass action and then a convening in Atlanta beginning Nov. 10 and ending with the mass action at the construction site.

This is not the first mass action called by the multiyear protest movement known as the Stop Cop City Movement. The movement previously called for six separate “Week of Action” events over the last two years, in which national and sometimes international movement supporters joined locals and travelled to the South River Forest in unincorporated DeKalb County just outside of Atlanta for a week of rallies, concerts, teach-ins and food festivals.

And sometimes protests.

The fifth week of action, held in March of this year, came just a month after early construction work began at the training center site and saw the largest gathering of the six. The week began with the “Weelaunee Music Festival,” a two-day event invoking the native Mvskoke name for the South River that runs through the eponymously named forest. On the second day of the festival, a group of between 150-200 individuals departed the concert grounds and walked about a mile to the training center site where some of the crowd torched construction equipment and threw fireworks at a nearby police staging area set up to stop any protesters from entering the construction area.

Law enforcement officers from at least five different agencies responded an hour later by raiding the music festival and arresting dozens of concertgoers. Prosecutors charged 23 people with domestic terrorism, including an attorney for the Southern Poverty Law Center who was working as a National Lawyers Guild legal observer at the time.

The Stop Cop City Movement is comprised of sometimes loosely affiliated groups and organizations using a variety of tactics in the pursuit of stopping the facility for which the movement is named.

The newest group to the movement, Block Cop City, says November’s action will not engage in the tactic of property destruction and economic sabotage used in March and at other points over the last two years. The group plans instead to engage in a tactic known as “non-violent direct action,” a style of protest commonly affiliated with Civil Rights Movement leader Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. “This action will employ non-violent tactics,” the group’s FAQ page reads, “not because we accept the state’s false dichotomy of legitimate and illegitimate protest, but rather, because we believe that a commitment to non-violent tactics will best allow us to stick together and overcome the police’s attempt to isolate and divide us.”

If the City needs to see a demonstration of the people’s commitment to this issue, we’re happy to provide one

Kamau Franklin

Non-violent protest against Cop City is not without its risks. On Sept. 5, Georgia Attorney General Chris Carr recently unveiled Racketeering (RICO) indictments against 61 individuals allegedly associated with the Stop Cop City Movement. RICO convictions carry up to 20 years in prison in addition to penalties for the felonies alleged to underly the RICO charges.  The attorney general’s office argued that acts done to prevent the construction of the facility fall under the alleged conspiracy. Some of the alleged acts listed as evidence in support of the indictment include one man signing his name “ACAB” – an abbreviation for “all cops are bastards” – and reimbursements for the purchase of glue or food.

Still, for individuals associated with the movement, there are few ways to attempt to halt the facility that do not involve risk. For years, those opposed to the facility tried to engage the traditional political system without much success. Cop City opponents called in dozens of hours of public comment to the Atlanta City Council over the course of Summer 2021. On the day it approved a ground lease to the Atlanta Police Foundation for the construction of the facility, the City Council heard over 17 hours of public comment with an estimated 70% asking council members to vote against the lease. That same day, the Atlanta Police Department arrested a group of individuals protesting Cop City outside then-City Council Member Natalyn Archibong’s house in East Atlanta.

This year, opponents engaged in dozens more hours of public comment against Cop City in June during the run up to a City Council vote to fund construction for the facility. On the day of the vote, some people waited over 15 hours for their chance to speak. Only a small fraction of those who spoke that day voiced their support of the facility. Still, despite the overwhelming opposition to the facility and the recent revelation that the taxpayer price tag of the facility was more than double what city officials first claimed, the City Council voted 11-4 in favor of providing $67 million to the Atlanta Police Foundation for the project.


Activists with the Stop Cop City Movement hold a rally against RICO charges levied
by Georgia Attorney General Chris Carr on Sept. 8.


More recently, the Cop City Vote Coalition launched a referendum campaign to add a ballot measure asking Atlanta voters to decide whether to overturn the ordinance authorizing the Atlanta Police Foundation’s lease of the training center site. This too was met with hostility from the city. In July, Mayor Andre Dickens told reporters that the referendum could not succeed “if it’s done honestly.” In legal filings, attorneys for the city have argued that Courts should strike the Georgia law enabling referendums rather than allow residents of neighboring DeKalb County collect signatures on the referendum petition. Then, in August, the city revealed plans to engage in a voter suppression tactic known as signature matching to validate, or invalidate, petition signatures.

On Monday, the Cop City Vote Coalition turned in over 116,000 signatures on the referendum petition to cancel the lease. As they prepared to drop off 16 boxes of signed petitions, City officials informed coalition organizers that the city would receive and store the petitions, but would not begin validating and counting signatures until a lawsuit currently in the Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit is resolved. The coalition contends that the city can at any point begin to validate the referendum petitions or unilaterally act to put the referendum question on the November ballot.

The 116,000 signatures the referendum coalition gathered represents over 20% of the Atlanta’s total population and is a larger number than the turnout of the last municipal election in 2021.

In August, Kamau Franklin, founder of Community Movement Builders and longtime opponent of Cop City, warned that city official’s failure to adhere to the will of the people would result in opponents taking alternative actions to stop the facility.

“If the City needs to see a demonstration of the people’s commitment to this issue, we’re happy to provide one,” said Franklin.

It is into the milieu that the Block Cop City group announced plans for the November mass action.

“On the morning of November 13,” the group states, “masses of people from across the city and country will gather in the Weelaunee Forest and bring construction to a halt. Together we can Block Cop City.”

Construction work stopped briefly as Cop City protesters enter site

cross-posted from the Atlanta Press Collective

Thursday morning a group of Cop City activists invoked a “people’s stop work order” and chained themselves to equipment at the construction site for the proposed Atlanta Safety Public Training Center, more commonly known as Cop City.

“This is a war happening against protesters,” Ayeola Omolara Kaplan, one of the five activists arrested, said via written statement. “If we don’t stand up for our right to protest now, standing up in the future will be vain. Cop City is in the process of being built, and this can only continue if we allow it.”


Four of the five activists who took part in the direct action at the construction site.
Left to right: Rev. David Dunn, Rev. Jeff Jones, Timothy Sullivan and Ayeola Omalara Kaplan.
Not pictured: Lalita Martin
Credit: The People’s Stop Work Order


Kaplan, a self-described Atlanta based revolutionary artist, was joined by Jeff Jones, a Unitarian Universalist volunteer community minister; Reverend David Dunn, a Unitarian Universalist Minister; Lalita Martin, an Atlanta resident; and Timmy Sullivan, a Georgia resident.

Before departing for the training center site, the five individuals carrying out the direct action were joined by a support group of around 25 other Stop Cop City activists. The group gathered in a circle, prayed, and sang a few refrains of “Ain’t Gonna Let Nobody Turn Me Around” to emotionally prepare for the day’s action. The five hopped into a white van and pulled out of the meeting site, followed by a caravan of supporters.

People put their bodies on the line, with the courage to stop this construction

Mary Hooks

When asked about the potential for life-altering felony charges for shutting down the construction site, Jaanaki Radhakrishnan, an organizer with the Student Coalition to Stop Cop City, expressed faith in her fellow activists and concern over the potential police response. “I trust that they have themselves together, that they know what they’re doing,” said Radhakrishnan as the caravan moved toward the construction site. “There’s always that you never know what the State is going to do, but they got it.”

What the State has done so far is throw the extreme charges against those arrested in relation to the Stop Cop City Movement.

Sixty-one individuals alleged to be part of the movement to Stop Cop City were charged in a sweeping Racketeering-Influenced and Corrupt Organizations (RICO) indictment on Sept. 5, and prosecutors have charged 42 activists under Georgia’s domestic terrorism statute since December 2022. The Georgia Attorney General’s office is prosecuting the RICO and domestic terrorism cases. In May, a joint APD and Georgia Bureau of Investigation (GBI) task force raided the home of three organizers with the Atlanta Solidarity Fund and charged them with charity fraud. Radhakrishnan believes that each of those events only served to undermine the State’s position in the eyes of the public.

“With each passing act of repression the State does, they’re making our case for us,” said Radhakrishnan.


A semi-truck driver honks in support as they by the support rally outside the construction site of the proposed training center
Credit: Matt Scott


Judging by the dozens of individuals driving by – including one MARTA bus driver and several semi-truck drivers – who honked in support of a rally held outside the construction site the word about Cop City is out, and residents are against the facility.

Political theorist and Morehouse College faculty member Andrew J. Douglas took to X (formerly known as Twitter) to express similar sentiments and explain the groundswell of support for the Stop Cop City Movement. “These RICO charges will only build the movement,” Douglas wrote. “In the words of George Jackson, ‘Repression. Do you see the effect it has on the uncommitted? Comrade, repression exposes.’”

Since January, the construction site remained guarded nonstop by the Atlanta Police Department (APD), with typically 30 officers patrolling the grounds and surrounding roadways around the clock. The last time activists entered the site in March, police were chased out and construction equipment was destroyed. APD and other local police agencies responded with a massive police raid of a nearby anti-Cop City music festival that resulted in prosecutors charging 23 individuals with domestic terrorism.


A stop work order posted by the activists outside the Cop City Construction site

Thursday morning, however, no APD officers stood guard at the Constitution Road. entrance to the construction site in unincorporated DeKalb. The five activists exited their van, entered the gate, and successfully chained themselves to a construction excavator for almost an hour. Construction remained shut down until the last activist was taken into custody around 10 a.m.

For their part APD officers did not engage with the support rally outside the construction site, choosing instead to fortify the gated entrance previously unguarded. One of the officers near the gate carried a gas mask and riot control rifle, and a second officer arrived a short time later carrying an assault rifle. The support rally organizers pre-arranged for an individual to be their police liaison and while police did speak to the liaison to request the group move several times, no arrests were made outside the construction site.


Mary Hooks, national field secretary with the Movement for Black Lives and Jaanaki Radhakrishnan, student organizer at the support rally for “The People’s Stop Work Order.”
Credit: Matt Scott

“People put their bodies on the line, with the courage to stop this construction,” said Mary Hooks, national field secretary with the Movement for Black Lives told the media as the support rally ended.

When asked about the potential for domestic terrorism or RICO charges for the five activists who shut down construction Hooks said, “this is dignified and righteous protest. Anytime that somebody puts their bodies on the line for the cause…this was worth the risk.”

“Cancel this lease,” Hooks continued, listing the group’s demands. “Stop this right now. Take this $67 million, and let the people decide how it should be spent.”

Speakers at the support rally explained that the five individuals chose to carry out this direct action to draw increasing attention to the number of people supporting the Stop Cop City Movement and the demand to that the facility not be built.

“We’re here to make sure that message gets heard as widely and as loudly as needs be in order to ensure Cop City will never be built,” said Reverend Jonathan Rogers, a Unitarian Universalist minister and member of the Cop City Clergy Coalition.


Footage from Lalita Martin’s GoPro Camera.
Credit: The People’s Stop Work Order

All five activists were taken into custody by APD and brought to DeKalb County jail. Each activist was charged with criminal trespass and obstructing a law enforcement officer, both misdemeanors. Martin was additionally charged with reckless behavior, also a misdemeanor.

Organizers plan to hold a jail vigil outside the facility Thursday at 8 p.m. for the activists arrested at the construction site. A second Stop Cop City rally in protest of the RICO indictments levied against the movement is planned for 6:00 p.m. Friday outside the office the Georgia Attorney General’s Office in Downtown Atlanta.