Thursday, February 16, 2023 at 7:30pm
Stop Cop City Teach-In and Fundraiser

361 Stagg Street, Suite 407, Brooklyn

Beneath the Concrete, the Forest, Lev Omelchenko, digital projection, 2022, 12 mins
Riotsville, USA, Sierra Pettengill, digital projection, 2022, 91 mins

In September 2021, the Atlanta City Council approved a ground lease agreement with the Atlanta Police Foundation for the construction of “a public safety training campus on City-owned property.”

Also known as Cop City. The proposed plan, which would cost $90 million and raze 85 acres of the surrounding Weelaunee Forest, is slated to become the largest facility of its kind in the country: a complex for police training that would include a shooting range, a K-9 unit kennel and training grounds, areas for high-speed vehicle chases, a Black Hawk helicopter landing pad—and a mock city, where police can learn and refine the latest methods of urban warfare. In the aftermath of the George Floyd Rebellion, departments from around the country will fly their officers to the destroyed forest to practice stamping out demonstrations by any means necessary.

A movement has sprung up in Atlanta to halt the building of the complex—to beat back both the bulldozers and the power of the police. Militants have converged upon the site and set up a network of treehouses, where for months they’ve served as an embodiment of another way of living as well as a forceful, direct obstacle to the construction of Cop City. They call themselves forest defenders. For months there have been confrontations with police in the city and in the Weelaunee itself, as they try to obliterate the occupation and repress its aboveground allies.

That repression has proven ruthless, and even fatal. Raids are routine. As of this writing more than a dozen people connected to the movement have been charged with “domestic terrorism.” And during a raid on January 18th, the police shot and killed the 27-year-old forest defender Manuel “Tortuguita” Teran.


We were in New York, in the middle of making our film Riotsville, USA when the lease was signed in Atlanta. Riotsville, USA takes its name from the mock cities built by the U.S. government in the late 1960s to train police and military in repressive techniques to throttle uprisings.

The program will begin with Beneath the Concrete, The Forest, by director Lev Omelchenko, a forest defender and filmmaker who was living in the Weelaunee Forest through 2022.

After the screening, there will be a teach-in via Zoom by the scholar Sasha Tycko and Marlon Kautz, of the Atlanta Solidarity Fund.

All proceeds from this screening will go to the ASF, who are organizing a legal defense for the arrested defenders, as well as conducting an independent investigation into the death of Manuel Teran.

- Tobi Haslett and Sierra Pettengill

Tickets by donation, available at door. Please note: seating is limited.

If you would like to support the ASF, but cannot attend the event, you can do so here.