Birmingham wants Brasfield & Gorrie to Drop the Contract! Stop Cop City!

M. James Gorrie - President & CEO of Brasfield & Gorrie

Brasfield & Gorrie, headquartered in Birmingham, AL, is the general contractor for a project that will involve clearcutting wetlands resulting in devastating effects on Atlanta’s environment, including worsened air quality and flooding in the predominantly Black neighborhoods in Southeast Atlanta. This project has been nicknamed "Cop City."

Building “Cop-City” will further militarize the Atlanta police and add to more violence being perpetrated against Black and Brown communities. The site will also be used for tactical training to disrupt movements and protests against police violence. Atlanta Police Foundation's current and future use of chemical weapons testing and its broader militarized training program will poison the soil and further endanger Atlantans’ safety. The location of this proposed training facility is within the South River Forest - this is one of the largest urban greenspaces and has been called “the lungs of the city” of Atlanta.

The police training facility is set to be the largest in the United States. It will include a mock city to simulate real-world training, explosives testing sites, and shooting ranges, according to official renderings. Its proposed site in the South River Forest has a chilling history of racist displacement and enslavement. The land was originally inhabited by the Muscogee (Creek) Nation before their forced displacement in the early 1800s. It also operated as a plantation and, most recently, a “prison farm” using incarcerated labor. The legacies of these systems endure to this day.

This police training facility is projected to impact law enforcement all across the US and even the world - 43% of their projected trainees would be from outside of the state of Georgia. This project will result in police from Birmingham, AL, the Southeast, and beyond being trained in "state of the art" urban warfare and police militarization techniques that will then be utilized on predominantly working class and black and brown communities. This impacts all of us!

As residents of Alabama and Birmingham, we are calling on Brasfield & Gorrie to drop the contract and stop participating in this project.

Alabama and Georgia are both Muscogee native lands. Seeing this project proposed in our neighboring state highlights the possibility of something similar happening within our own state and communities.

Brasfield & Gorrie prides themselves on their investment in their communities. They have participated in many projects that build infrastructure and enhance communities. This is NOT one of those projects. This project will have negative impacts on the environment, the majority black and brown neighborhood where this is located and the overall city of Atlanta.

We are asking Brasfield & Gorrie to invest in communities and divest from Cop City!

Check out these links for more information on this proposed project:

Sponsored by
Birmingham, AL

To: M. James Gorrie - President & CEO of Brasfield & Gorrie
From: [Your Name]

Dear Mr. James Gorrie - Brasfield & Gorrie,

We write to you as community members deeply concerned about the threat of the Atlanta Police Foundation’s training facility plans that your company is contracted to build in the South River Forest outside of Atlanta. These plans make our communities less safe by increasing environmental destruction and police militarization.

As citizens of Alabama and Birmingham, we demand Brasfield & Gorrie drop the contract to build "Cop City."

While the Atlanta Police Foundation’s training facility aka “Cop City” is sited in DeKalb County, its consequences will be felt across the Atlanta Metropolitan Area. Forests in Atlanta remove about 19 million pounds of air pollutants each year(1) and the South River Forest is considered one of the largest unspoiled areas left in the Atlanta metro area(2), according to Deron Davis, former executive director at the Nature Conservancy of Georgia.

This tree canopy is critical to reducing the urban heat island effect that raises temperatures in Atlanta by up to 10 degrees(3). The first half of 2022 was among the hottest starts to a year(4) that Atlanta has seen since 1930. Furthermore, with a 75% increase of heavy rainfall(5) in Atlanta, green space is needed to reduce stormwater runoff. These benefits will be lost along with the forest.The South River is the fourth most endangered river in America. The chemical runoff from weapons testing at the militarized police facility will further pollute the South River and the surrounding communities.

Despite the critical role that forests play, environmental impact assessments for “Cop City” have been criticized for being haphazard, misleading(6), or in some cases absent(7).

Environmental justice scholars have long pointed out the role of police violence in normalizing environmental racism(8), which disproportionately impacts Black and Brown communities(9). Black people are three times more likely to be killed by the police(10) and die from asthma(11) than white people, according to reports. Medical research shows that air pollutants are a direct cause of asthma.

Again, as citizens of Alabama and Birmingham, we demand Brasfield & Gorrie drop the contract to build "Cop City." This project does not align with the values your company has identified as core to your operations and does not benefit the community on a variety of levels.

Your company website claims to hold safety as a primary value, and to invest in strong communities - this project is detrimental to the neighborhoods directly located in the surrounding area. In DeKalb County(12), which comprises the neighborhoods surrounding South River Forest, the population is predominantly Black; most residents(13) live at or below the poverty level and have some of the country’s highest rates of poverty, asthma, and diabetes.

The voices of the community adjacent to the proposed site have spoken out consistently and at length against the construction of a police facility. The protests against this construction have gone on for two years, including hours of testimony from the community at the City Council meetings where they do not have an elected official to represent them, but electeds voted to move this project forward. This year, police violence against protestors resulted in the murder of Tortuguita, or Manuel Terán, in the Atlanta City Forest. Manuel Terán is the first climate activist murdered by police in the US. We stand as a community, united, against the militarization of police, and for the protection of essential forested lands. The proposal for Cop City is violence we cannot and will not tolerate. We will continue to stand and fight to prevent this development until it is canceled. We will continue organizing for true public safety through community care, not racist policing.

It is well within your power as President & CEO of Brasfield & Gorrie to drop this contract. We urge you to take this action immediately. The health of the people of Atlanta and the Southeast depends on forests, climate resiliency, and systems of care — not militarized police. Help ensure that Cop City will never be built.