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November 12, 2023
What A Day
The People's Stop Work Order

In This Episode

  • Local organizers in Atlanta are set to hold a mass nonviolent community action today against Cop City — the 90-million-dollar police training complex slated to be built in the city’s South River Forest. We’re joined by Kamau Franklin, founder of the Community Movement Builders, to discuss what’s at stake if Cop City gets built and what folks on the ground are doing to keep that from happening.
  • And in headlines: the second largest hospital in Gaza City has run out of fuel, Republican presidential candidate Tim Scott announced that he’s dropping out of the 2024 presidential race, and a potential government shutdown is just days away.

 

Show Notes:

 

 

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TRANSCRIPT

 

Tre’vell Anderson: It’s Monday, November 13th. I’m Tre’vell Anderson. 

 

Priyanka Aribindi: And I’m Priyanka Aribindi and this is What a Day where we too want Trump’s federal election interference case to be televised, but perhaps not for the same reasons that he might. 

 

Tre’vell Anderson: Yes, he just wants to continue to wreak havoc in our lives, and we are just searching for some new streaming content. 

 

Priyanka Aribindi: Yeah. Honestly, I am at the uh shitty seasons of my Vampire Diaries rewatch, so I need a new show and Donald Trump might just provide. 

 

Tre’vell Anderson: Mm hmm. [music break]

 

Priyanka Aribindi: On today’s show, the second largest hospital in Gaza City has run out of fuel. Plus, we are now less than a week away from a potential government shutdown. 

 

Tre’vell Anderson: But first, the movement to stop Cop City continues. Of course, I’m talking about the proposed 85 acre, $90 million dollar complex being built in the South River forest area of Atlanta that will serve as a training center for the Atlanta police and fire departments. Local organizers have been opposing this facility since it was announced a couple of years ago. And this past weekend they came together for a multi-day collective action that culminates today with a mass, nonviolent direct action. Their goal is to interrupt construction on the complex because the city government refuses to do so. And they’re calling it, quote, “a people’s stop work order.” 

 

Priyanka Aribindi: Yes. Okay. This has been ongoing for some time. We’ve covered various stages of this issue on the show before. But can you refresh our memory a little bit? How did we get here? 

 

Tre’vell Anderson: Yeah. So the TLDR of it all, in the aftermath of 2020, the summer of racial reckoning, as we call it now, Atlanta actually decided to invest more into policing, not less. And they announced plans to clear a huge swath of land in the Weelaunee forest for this state of the art training facility. Almost immediately, the community, especially those neighboring the forest, which is a predominantly Black area, they all started speaking out. Not only about the negative environmental impact that this would have, but also about how it will likely lead to greater policing of already overpoliced Black folks. 

 

Priyanka Aribindi: Right. 

 

Tre’vell Anderson: But the elected establishment has basically been ignoring the community, even after extended public comment at city meetings and a petition to allow voters to make the final decision on the facility. And now more than 60 organizers have been arrested, detained and or charged with things like money laundering, domestic terrorism and even racketeering. The ACLU has framed these charges as, quote, “extreme intimidation tactics that we need to resist.” 

 

Priyanka Aribindi: I mean, absolutely, these are protesters and they’re being slapped with charges that are saying that they’re domestic terrorists. 

 

Tre’vell Anderson: Mmm hmm. 

 

Priyanka Aribindi: So it is such an outsized punishment. It really does not align at all with what is going on here and is, I think, the part of this conversation, there are so many that have captured our attention, but that–

 

Tre’vell Anderson: Yeah. 

 

Priyanka Aribindi: –one is so particularly glaring. 

 

Tre’vell Anderson: Absolutely. And so I wanted to check back in on the Stop Cop City movement to see how the resistance is going. Ahead of today’s action, I spoke with Kamau Franklin. He is the founder of Community Movement Builders, they’re a grassroots organization in southwest Atlanta that is part of a collective of organizations working to stop and block Cop City. And I started by asking him about what he and his fellow organizers are hoping to accomplish with today’s demonstration. 

 

Kamau Franklin: The action is called block Cop City. It’s actually put together by a large contingent of organizers who’ve been working against Cop City since its inception. The idea is to try to go out and to surround the facility in which Cop City is scheduled to be built on to show that there is still resistance to the idea of having this facility built. To engage in direct action and civil disobedience, and to really just try to make sure that people understand that this has been a facility that we’ve been opposed to for two and a half years. We’ve gotten large amounts of people, critical mass of people in fact, sometimes the majority of Atlantans have come out in different ways and said that they’re against this facility being built. I mean, this is a continuation of the struggle to show and to demonstrate that we are opposed to this militarized police center being built. And we will do different tactics and strategies to make sure that it’s never built here in Atlanta. 

 

Tre’vell Anderson: Yeah, we’ve talked on the show before about the concerns that the Atlanta community has regarding this $90 million dollar police training complex. There’s kind of the environmental impact that it will have on the city’s south river forest, there is the threat of increased policing in a predominately Black neighborhood. I want to ask you, though, as a resident yourself, what do you see as at stake for you and your neighbors if facilities like Cop City continue to get built and get built in your local community? 

 

Kamau Franklin: What this is is the continuation and the furthering of the militarization of police to do two things. To one, continue to overpolice the Black community here in Atlanta, which likes to consider itself the Black Mecca, but which has gone from a population of over 60% Black to one that’s less than 50% black. But yeah, Black folks represent 90% of those arrested in and around Atlanta. We think this will be a further way in which the militarization of police continue to overpolice our communities. And secondly, the idea of Cop City or the dusting off, I should say, of the idea of Cop City happened after the 2020 uprisings and so after people were out in the streets calling for the abolition of police, calling for the defunding of police, calling for alternatives to incarceration or alternatives to policing. Instead, Atlanta decided to double down and to create a training center which says itself that is of military grade that it would be paramilitary. And we think that this facility will be used to stop the movement against police violence. Um. And again, instead of responding to police violence, it is going to be used to increase the amount of police violence and in particular, to stop movements in organizations and organizers. 

 

Tre’vell Anderson: Yeah, I sort of kind of consider Atlanta to be like a second home. That’s where I went to Morehouse for undergrad. And I myself can think of so many other things that Atlanta can be investing this $90 million dollars into. But for you, what comes to mind? What else should Atlanta be putting this money that apparently is available into? 

 

Kamau Franklin: Atlanta’s going through a gentrification crisis. Almost all the new housing built in Atlanta has been classified as luxury housing. The city of Atlanta hasn’t built new housing in approximately ten or 20 years. They destroyed all of the public housing in Atlanta doing the Olympics. They gave homeless people one way bus tickets out of Atlanta. They enacted a voucher program where landlords did not have to accept the vouchers. And so this money could be going into affordable housing. It could go in into non market housing, land trusts. It could be going to ways that save working class and poor Black communities as opposed to pushing them out and using the police as a way to push them out. And so we think that is the first place that that money should go into. Others are like alternatives to the type of policing that we see happening in our communities. So having alternatives in which people who don’t have guns, who don’t have mace can either write tickets or other folks can deal with folks who are having mental issues or homeless folks so that we have some buffer between the violence that the police bring to our communities where we don’t have to have our communities be engaged with those folks, but be engaged with people who are looking to help solve issues as opposed to looking to jail and arrest people. So we think there’s many places that the city can spend it’s upwards of $90 million dollars plus the other money, the private money that’s flowing into this center. That there’s many ways that it can go to improve things for Atlanta, particularly working class and poor Black Atlanta who are being chased out as we speak. 

 

Tre’vell Anderson: Yeah, And there are a number of activists who’ve been hit with, you know, some of these questionable charges as it relates to protesting Cop City. There’s domestic terrorism charges. There’s now racketeering charges. We’ve covered those on the show before. Georgia District Attorney Chris Carr has even characterized these folks as quote unquote, “militant anarchists.” Can you tell us a little bit about the dozens of folks who have been arrested and detained trying to protest the building of Cop City? 

 

Kamau Franklin: Well, we should state that since the inception of the protest against Cop City, they’ve been arrest. And at the very beginning of those protests back in 2021, those arrests were usually the kind of arrests that we as organizers or activists can expect. They were arrest for resisting arrest or disorderly conduct. But they’re at a kind of at least on the level of things that we expected, things that we would fight, the things that we would expect. Because of the success of the protests and the growing nature of them, and the fact that even after the city of Atlanta had passed its resolution to sign the lease, but the protests kept going. Basically a task force of the Atlanta police, the DeKalb County police, the county where the facility is to be built, the Georgia Bureau of Investigation, the Federal Bureau of Investigation and Homeland Security entered into a task force where they begin to speak about bringing terrorist charges to organizers and activists, basically to stop the movement against Cop City. And so what they’ve done is targeted in particular organizers and activists at first who were in the forest. And in December, they arrested 11 people in the forest who were doing no more than staying in encampments, in tents and tree huts. And then in January, they murdered the organizer Tortuguita as they sat in their tent and arrested 11, another 11 people. And then later on that month, they arrested another 11 to 12 people and then doing a huge demonstration or a music concert. They used that opportunity to arrest another 23 people, giving us 60 over 60 people with domestic terrorism charges. And then they laid on top of that the RICO charges that we see now. The folks who’ve been arrested have been targeted in a sense that we have people who, let’s say doing the music concert who were stop at, say 20 people were stopped, their IDs were checked. If they had Georgia IDs, they were let go, if they had out-of-state IDs they were arrested and charged with domestic terrorism and then later with the RICO charges. So what we see the state and city doing, the right wing governor and the so-called liberal Democrat combining forces to charge out-of-state people to criminalize the movement, but to make it seem like it’s an outsider movement as opposed to the core of this movement, which has been people who live, work in and around Atlanta since the very beginning. So these charges are not about any criminality, but they are about criminalizing a movement and scaring people from participating in the movement to stop Cop City. 

 

Tre’vell Anderson: Mm hmm. Any sense from your vantage point that that has been successful? That people have been scared or that the movement has died down as a result of what could be, you know, very serious prison sentences that come along with these allegations? 

 

Kamau Franklin: I definitely think people have been scared. I mean, you can’t endure the type of police violence that the movement has and it not necessarily scare you or frighten you, but what it hasn’t done is scared us off. What it hasn’t done is frightened us off. This movement has grown both locally, nationally and internationally in terms of its breadth and scope. So organizers and activists, not only here in Atlanta, but around the country and in some ways around the world, have continued to see this project as a militarization of the police. One that is scary because of its ties not only to the type of policing that we see them training on, but its ties to the Israeli police and the mutual training they do with that. And so the same tactics and strategies that they use against Palestinians we think are going to be imported here. And the same tactics and strategies they use against Black people are going to be exported to Palestine. 

 

Tre’vell Anderson: That was Kamau Franklin of Community Movement Builders. We will put some links in the show notes so you can learn more about their organization and the ongoing Stop Cop City movement. But that is the latest for now. We will be back after some ads. [music break] 

 

[AD BREAK] 

 

Tre’vell Anderson: Now let’s wrap up with some headlines. 

 

[sung] Headlines. 

 

Priyanka Aribindi: Late Sunday night, Republican presidential candidate Tim Scott announced that he is dropping out of the 2024 presidential race. The South Carolina senator made the announcement on Trey Gowdy’s program on Fox News. No, that is not a mad lib that really happened. Take a listen to what he had to say. 

 

[clip of Tim Scott] I love America more today than I did on May 22nd, but when I go back to Iowa, it will not be as a presidential uh candidate. I am suspending my campaign. I think the voters who are the most remarkable people on the planet have been really clear that they’re telling me not now Tim. 

 

Priyanka Aribindi: Senator Scott also said that he won’t be endorsing any other candidates and he didn’t seem interested in running as someone else’s running mate, saying, quote, “Being vice president has never been on my to do list for this campaign and it is certainly not there now,” there we have it. 

 

Tre’vell Anderson: The Al-Quds hospital, the second largest in Gaza City, has run out of fuel and is no longer functional. That comes as Israeli troops have moved farther into Gaza City in recent days and closed in on hospitals that provide refuge for civilians. Israel, however, claims that Hamas uses hospitals to shield military operations. Four other hospitals were evacuated on Friday, and Gaza’s main hospital, Al-Shifa, is in dire condition. According to Gaza’s health ministry, thousands of patients and displaced folks have been trapped inside the hospital while Israeli forces surrounded the site and shelled the building. The health ministry also said that at least five wounded patients died on Saturday as a result of a power outage. And the lack of fuel has caused the hospital to go dark, forcing doctors to care for patients from just the light of their cell phones. That’s according to a nurse at the hospital who spoke with The New York Times. Meanwhile, across the world, thousands of people took to the streets this weekend. In London, an estimated 300,000 people marched in support of Palestine on Saturday and called for a cease fire in Gaza. Over in France, more than 180,000 people across the country took to the streets to protest against the rise of anti-Semitism. And in Tel Aviv, thousands took part in a protest calling on Israel to prioritize the return of hostages. More than 200 hostages remain held in Gaza. Hamas has released four hostages and the Israeli military has rescued one more. 

 

Priyanka Aribindi: Yeah, I think it is really telling and interesting to see all the various things that people are in the streets and in demonstrating over because it’s not just you know, there’s one aspect. There is, of course, you know, what is going on in Gaza. There’s also, you know, the ensuing hatred that has been spawned since this conflict has started, which is another big thing to be upset and not okay with. And there’s the hostage issue and what Israel is doing to prioritize bringing them home, like so many different facets that continues, I feel, to blow my mind– 

 

Tre’vell Anderson: Yeah. 

 

Priyanka Aribindi: –about this conflict. We are now less than a week away from a potential government shutdown. Lest you forgot about that amid the chaos of the rest of the world. No, we are chaotic right here at home too. Newly elected House Speaker Mike Johnson told Republican lawmakers on a conference call this weekend that he is moving forward with a two step government funding plan. The first bill would extend funding for some federal agencies until January 19th and continue funding for others until February 2nd. If that sounds kind of weird to you, you would not be wrong. That is very unusual for a stopgap spending bill. Lawmakers typically extend funding until a certain date for everything. Johnson’s bill would exclude funding requested by President Biden for Israel, Ukraine, and the U.S. border with Mexico. And naturally, the Biden administration is not too happy with this bill. In a statement on Saturday, the White House said, quote, “House Republicans are wasting precious time with an unserious proposal that has been panned by members of both parties.” Got to love this continued use of unserious. It is in the lexicon now. 

 

Tre’vell Anderson: My favorite. [laughing]

 

Priyanka Aribindi: I am into it too. The House is expected to vote as early as tomorrow, giving members 72 hours to read the text of the bill. Best of luck with that. 

 

Tre’vell Anderson: That’s not a lot of time, but I also don’t think that many of our [laugh] elected officials be reading the bills they be voting on anyway. 

 

Priyanka Aribindi: No. 

 

Tre’vell Anderson: So. 

 

Priyanka Aribindi: No, no. 

 

Tre’vell Anderson: Yikes. 

 

Priyanka Aribindi: That’s for the staffers. So sorry, they don’t do that. 

 

Tre’vell Anderson: Right. And over in New York, the FBI seized at least two cell phones and an iPad from New York City Mayor Eric Adams early last week as part of a campaign contribution investigation. The mayor’s lawyer said the seizure happened last Monday when FBI agents approached Adams after a public event in Manhattan. Adams complied with the request and, according to his lawyer, has not been accused of any wrongdoing. This comes after FBI agents raided the home of the mayor’s top fundraiser, Brianna Suggs, just a week prior. Prosecutors have not publicly disclosed details of the investigation. But according to The New York Times, which cites a search warrant, authorities are looking into whether Adams’s 2021 mayoral campaign conspired with the Turkish government to channel foreign donations into his campaign using straw donors. 

 

Priyanka Aribindi: I’m sorry, that is so off the wall. What in the world is going on– 

 

Tre’vell Anderson: The plot twist–

 

Priyanka Aribindi: –with Eric Adams right now? [laughing]

 

Tre’vell Anderson: –we did not expect. Absolutely. 

 

Priyanka Aribindi: No, no. 

 

Tre’vell Anderson: As a reminder, in September, Adams’s former city buildings commissioner, Eric Ulrich, was indicted on 16 felony charges, including counts of bribery. And back in July, six people were indicted in an alleged straw donor scheme that funneled thousands of dollars to Adams’s campaign. 

 

Priyanka Aribindi: Yeah, Eric Adams said, take whatever you want, just not my membership to [?] and [laughter] Honestly, he might get his wish. We’ll see. 

 

Tre’vell Anderson: We’ll find out. 

 

Priyanka Aribindi: And finally, the 2024 Grammy nominations are here and the girls are running the show. SZA leads the list of nominees, as she should, with nine nominations, including the major categories of Song of the year, record of the year and album of the year. Taylor Swift’s album Midnights. Olivia Rodrigo’s Guts and Boygenius’s The Record also took top spots. The Barbie soundtrack has a total of 11 nominations across seven categories, but there have been some notable snubs, too. That includes Colombian artist Karol G, who somehow dodged an album of the year nomination. And Doja Cat, whose number one hit Paint the Town Red, didn’t receive a record of the year nod. The 66th Grammys will take place on February 4th, where prizes will be handed out in 94 categories, which is the most that they’ve given out in 13 years. 

 

Tre’vell Anderson: I am just glad that Victoria Monet with her fabulous song On My Mama On My Hood, I look Fly, I Look good, got a couple Grammy nominations. She’s super deserving and we love to see it. 

 

Priyanka Aribindi: Yes lotd to be excited about, lots to look forward to. Cannot wait to see what the Swifties read into. You know the most awards given out in 13 years. The theories I’m sure will be all over TikTok in– 

 

Tre’vell Anderson: Oh Lord. 

 

Priyanka Aribindi: –a matter of minutes. 

 

Tre’vell Anderson: [laughing] Right. And those are the headlines. 

 

[AD BREAK]

 

Tre’vell Anderson: That is all for today. If you like the show, make sure you subscribe. Leave a review, create a Grammy category for best tour of the year. 

 

Priyanka Aribindi: Yes. 

 

Tre’vell Anderson: Beyonce, and tell your friends to listen. 

 

Priyanka Aribindi: And if you are into reading and not just how to avoid a government shutdown like me, What a Day is also a nightly newsletter. Check it out and subscribe at Crooked.com/subscribe. I’m Priyanka Aribindi.

 

Tre’vell Anderson: I’m Tre’vell Anderson. 

 

[spoken together] And make unserious happen. 

 

Priyanka Aribindi: I mean, it’s happening. I’m loving it. 

 

Tre’vell Anderson: It’s such a good word. It’s just– 

 

Priyanka Aribindi: It really is.

 

Tre’vell Anderson: –so perfect for almost every situation. [laughing]

 

Priyanka Aribindi: I know because there’s no situation in which, like you could be told you’re unserious or someone says that about you, that you don’t feel like an idiot. 

 

Tre’vell Anderson: Right. [laughing]

 

Priyanka Aribindi: It’s just so completely effective. [music break]

 

Tre’vell Anderson: What a Day is a production of Crooked Media. It’s recorded and mixed by Bill Lancz. Our show’s producer is Itxy Quintanilla. Raven Yamamoto and Natalie Bettendorf are our associate producers and our showrunner is Leo Duran. Our theme music is by Colin Gilliard and Kashaka.