Angela Davis

Noted civil rights activist Angela Davis is returning a proclamation issued to her by the City of Atlanta in protest of the controversial public safety training facility.

Davis accepted the proclamation from the Atlanta City Council last month while in town to deliver the keynote address at the annual Walter Rodney Symposium at Morehouse College. In a statement, Davis said she regretted accepting the award.

Davis said she would return to the proclamation in solidarity with those fighting against the construction of the $90 million training facility – dubbed “Cop City” by opponents – on city-owned land in South DeKalb County.

Davis’ statement in full:

“On March 24, I traveled to Atlanta to participate in the annual Walter Rodney Symposium sponsored by the Walter Rodney Foundation. I understand now that this year, rather than seeking a proclamation of this as Walter Rodney Day, the organizers of the conference sought to honor me with an official proclamation from the Atlanta City Council. I regret that I did not consider the implications of my acceptance of this award at the time, given the fact that the City Council voted in favor of the construction of a massive militarized police training facility in the South River Forest.

In order to express my unequivocal solidarity with the activists who are leading the struggle to Stop Cop City, who are protesting the police killing of environmental activist Manuel Esteban Paez Teran, and who are demanding bail for all those arrested, I feel compelled to return the award offered me by the Atlanta City Council.

The return of this award is not meant to diminish in any way the work of the Walter Rodney Foundation. I will always revere this great revolutionary, whose spirit is so clearly reflected in the Stop Cop City Campaign.”

The Walter Rodney Foundation (WRF) – named for the late Guyanese and Pan-Africanist historian, professor, and political activist – said in a statement that it supported Davis’ decision and also voiced its opposition to the training facility.

“Cop City symbolizes continued police militarization and nationalization, and is believed to be one of the largest counterinsurgency and surveillance facilities in the United States,” the organization said in a statement. “The development of Cop City has already exacerbated issues of police violence and state repression of activists, with the police-killing of a young eco-activist Manuel Esteban ‘Tortuguita’ Paez Terán, as well as the arrest of over 35 protesters, dozens of whom are being charged with ‘domestic terrorism’.”

WRF said it has been a tradition of the organization to seek a proclamation to mark Walter Rodney Day, but the practice would now require “further contemplation.”

“Walter Rodney stood against police violence, state oppression, exploitation, systemic racism and racial capitalism,” the WRF statement continued. “This is a teachable moment for the Walter Rodney Foundation. We acknowledge the inherent contradictions of Angela Y. Davis receiving a proclamation signed by the same officials responsible for voting for the construction of Cop City at our annual symposium, which celebrates the life, works, legacy, and values of Dr. Walter Rodney.”

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Collin KelleyEditor

Collin Kelley has been the editor of Atlanta Intown for two decades and has been a journalist and freelance writer for 35 years. He’s also an award-winning poet and novelist.