In Georgia, a Standoff Between Leftists and Authorities

What a deadly police shooting near Atlanta’s ‘Cop City’ means for the future of protests — and the crackdowns against them

In Georgia, a Standoff Between Leftists and Authorities
Hundreds march to protest the construction of a police training facility in Atlanta. (Steve Eberhardt/ZUMA Press Wire/Alamy)

On Jan. 18, deep in the woods outside Atlanta, police shot and killed an activist known as Tortuguita. Two days later, I attended a candlelight vigil on the edge of the same forest.

A solemn crowd of about 100 people gathered in a small parking lot as daylight faded, many dressed in black, some hiding their faces behind bandanas or medical masks. They were a mix of anarchists, prison abolitionists, anti-fascists and environmentalists. Some had been living in the woods for months with Tortuguita, Spanish for “little turtle.” They had been trying to stop construction of a police training facility known as Cop City, but the bloodshed seemed to be changing the movement into something broader and more unpredictable.

Masked volunteers handed out sheets of lyrics adapted from an old protest song that Italian farmers once sang called “Bella Ciao.” More copies were stacked on a piece of concrete beneath an empty turtle shell. A man in a hoodie sat on a pile of broken concrete slabs and began to sing:

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