The People Take Over Atlanta Council Dais

On Monday, February 5th 2024, corrupt Atlanta City Council members Howard Shook and Andrea Boone, hijacked a bill in committee to add signature matching to the bill - a voter suppression tactic. The point of this is to stop the "Stop Cop City" measure from getting on the ballot - preventing Atanta Citizens from being able to democratically decide on the controversial, overbudget, ecologically harmful project.  In response, 13 citizens took over the dais of the council in protest and resistance.

  In a video taken during the action, one woman, sitting at the dais, can be heard speaking about why they were doing it: "We see continually this city betray everyday people and our right to vote on issues that matter to us. And we don't think that [the council members] deserve to sit in these seats... Democracy is what is at stake, not to mention public safety, not to mention housing and so many other issues that this council refuses to address with some level of integrity." After a moment, 3 activists were arrested and detained, and later released without charge.

Marisa Pyle, a supporter of the Stop Cop City movement, wrote on X that "At least three people have been arrested after Atlanta voters occupied the dais of the Atlanta City Council after Howard Shook and Andrea Boone forced re-introduction of signature matching into the signature verification process for the @CopCityVote referendum."

The bill which had originally been brought before the council on Monday was drafted by Councilperson Liliana Bakhtiari and the Cop City Referendum Coalition, and was supported by nearly 30 organizations and national leaders, including Vote To Stop Cop City. That is, before several council members stuck signature matching back into it.

Activists have been gathering signatures since last summer calling for a referendum vote to Stop Cop City, and in December of 2023 they turned in over 116,000 signatures. Now the Atlanta council has ruled that signature matching (where several different signatures must be matched to cast a valid ballot) is a must to approve the referendum. Activists believe this will be one of the councils' mechanisms to force the Cop City project through.

Signature matching is heavily criticized by many, including the American Civil Liberties Union. They write that "Ballots being rejected because of a perceived signature mismatch heavily affects voters already at the margins — people with disabilities, trans and gender-nonconforming people, women, people for whom English is a second language, and military personnel." They note that a person's signature can change for many reasons, including degenerative diseases or disabilities. People with eyesight loss may have a signature change over time, and trans people may have a different signature and name than when they registered to vote.

The signature matching rule may be yet another hurdle in a seemingly impossible fight to Stop Cop City. 

Last week, on January 29th, two nonviolent warriors with the group Drop Cop City locked themselves to construction equipment at a work site of the construction company Brasfield & Gorrie "as a way to pressure the company to cut ties with the controversial project." 

The proposed project is already costing twice what it originally asked for, from 30 million to now a bloated 67 million. Last year a land defender, Tortuguita, a 26-year-old Indigenous queer and non-binary environmental activist and community organizer, was shot and killed by Georgia state troopers in Atlanta, Georgia on January 18, 2023. 

 

 

In Solidarity, Jon Tijerina

 

 

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Jon Tijerina

About

Jon Tijerina writes for the Daily Rebellion. He 's been arrested 14 times for civil disobedience to get government action on the climate crisis. He loves falafel, reading classics and spending time with good people. He lives in California.