Atlanta Residents Demand Their Voices Be Heard On The Construction Of Cop City

black man putting his ballot in a white box that says vote
Zain Murdock
February 23, 2024

On September 11, 2023, Atlantans opposing Cop City delivered over 116,000 signatures on their ballot referendum petition to the city clerk’s office - nearly twice as much as the 58,231 signature threshold. The vote would allow residents to overturn the decision to construct the militarized police facility. However, the petition wasn’t accepted.

This act of suppression is part of Atlanta’s long history fighting for voting rights, which includes residents spending hours waiting to vote, educating community members, organizing transportation for potential voters, assisting voters with low literacy, and legally advocating for voting rights protections.

Today, though not every Black person in Atlanta agrees on Cop City, the legacy of resistance is a reminder that the referendum is larger than just voting yes or no. It’s about the right to vote at all.

According to a 2022 Pew Study, a majority of Black Americans see voting as the most effective strategy for helping Black people move forward.  

“Even with me wanting Cop City, if I’m outvoted, I’m fine with that,” says Atlanta resident Crystal Brown. “We should all have a right to our opinion and our vote.”

Voter suppression is an illegitimate function of the system that attacks the very foundation of democracy. Whether the referendum is recognized or not, the government does not decide the legitimacy of resistance movements.

From exposing signatories’ names to downplaying the need for democracy, officials’ counterresistance cannot erase the fact that community members know their power and the importance of making their voices heard. It is, and always should be, the people who have the power to decide what is legitimate to them.

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