Hayes Defends ‘Spirited Resistance’ Against Atlanta Training Facility

June 9th, 2023 10:37 AM

Chris Hayes took some time in his Wednesday show, All In With Chris Hayes, to describe the “spirited resistance” of the protesters of the new first responder training facility (known to its protesters as “Cop City”) just outside of Atlanta, Georgia, and to condemn the state and city legislators who had authorized its building. Hayes then went on to provide his own opinion on why the training facility was not “the wisest use of Atlanta’s taxpayer dollars,” of course, downplaying the violence from leftist extremists.

The segment began with Hayes’s description of when “a SWAT team descended on a quiet, residential street” and “raided a house” there to arrest three members of the Atlanta Solidarity Fund. This organization was raising money for “a bail fund” to pay for violent activists to be released from prison after being arrested at riots against the facility.



Hayes played video footage of these arrests, and complained against the harshness of the “SWAT raids for charity fraud” that he said had happened. He ignored the fact that many of the people for whom this organization was funding bail had been participants in violent protests against the police officers and legislators who were responsible for the plan to be approved.

Some of these protesters had even been destroying property and the equipment that was being used for the construction. One activist even shot a police officer who had been standing guard at the prospective facility’s property, before being shot himself in self-defense and killed.

Hayes mournfully noted this “fatal shooting,” but announced that there was “subsequent evidence” to disprove that the activist had shot the officer before he had been shot and killed, despite the officer’s injuries proving otherwise.

Ignoring the impressive work done by lawmakers to plan and fund the facility, Hayes decried the bipartisan support and used the derogatory name for the facility. “In the face of all this opposition, state officials, from Republican Governor Brian Kemp, to Democratic City governance of Atlanta, seem almost monomaniacally fixated on building Cop City,” he whined.

What Hayes omitted was evidence of online coordination between Antifa groups to intimidate and threaten the lives of the city council who voted to approve the new funds.



Then, Hayes showed a graph to indicate the spike in violent crimes in America in 2020, admitting that this might have been due to “the massive disruption of all aspects of social life” that had come with the COVID-19 pandemic. However, he then showed a headline of an article that discussed how the rates for violent crime in Atlanta had then gone down around 53 percent by 2023. This, he claimed, reduced the need for a training facility, and rendered it “not clear” whether the facility would be “the wisest use of Atlanta’s taxpayer dollars.”

In addition to all of this, in Hayes’s analysis of the situation, he, like the protesters of the facility, seemed to think that it would only be a police training facility, rather than the actual plans for a complete first responder training facility, including firefighters and EMTs. This facility would facilitate training for all first responders in the area to be able to save more lives every day, including better training of police, which would increase the safety of the area rather than decrease it.

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Transcript of the segment below (click Expand):

MSNBC All In With Chris Hayes


8:43 PM

CHRIS HAYES: Last week, in the early hours of Wednesday morning, a SWAT team descended on a quiet, residential street in the Edgewood neighborhood of Atlanta. This is what it looked like. A scene, heavily armed members of the Atlanta Police Department, you see them, guns drawn there, as they come out. A joint operation with the Georgia Bureau of Investigation, that's a state law enforcement agency, raided a house and arrested three people in it.

Now, if you're looking at that footage, it looked like something you might see for the take-down of a gang leader, or a cartel drug bust. In fact, the people inside that house were organizing legal support and a bail fund for people protesting a very controversial police training facility, that opponents have dubbed, “Cop City.”

The three members of a group called the Atlanta Solidarity Fund were charged with money laundering and charity fraud. You don't see a ton of SWAT raids for charity fraud.

Now, the plan for Cop City was first officially proposed back in 2021, as an 85-acre public safety training campus, complete with a mocks—mock convenience store, home, a nightclub. The building site is a former prison farm, just outside Atlanta, surrounded by a forest.

Initially, officials said taxpayers would pay only about one third of the total 90-million-dollar cost, to the tune of 31 million dollars. Last month, however, they announced the cost to public will more than double, thanks to a provision in the city’s lease with the Atlanta Police Foundation, that will add about another 36 million dollars to the public cost.

The plan set off spirited resistance, it's been going strong for nearly two years now. In fact, protesters moved into the forest to kind of occupy it, in effort to stop construction.

And we've seen violent clashes between those protesters and police, including, most notably, the fatal shooting of the 26-year-old environmental activist in January, who was in the forest. A Georgia State Trooper was also injured in that incident.

Now, at that time, police accused that activist, who went by the nickname “Tortuguita,” of firing on State Troopers without warning. Subsequent evidence makes that appear less likely. In fact, an autopsy commissioned by the activist’s family showed that Tortuguita’s hands were raised when they were shot by troopers.

The crackdown on the resistance to Cop City continued with the arrest of a legal observer and attorney from the Southern Poverty Law Center at a demonstration in March, and he is one of more than 40 people charged with domestic terrorism in connection with the protest, who are accused of participating in what police have called “violent attacks.”

In the face of all this opposition, state officials, from Republican Governor Brian Kemp, to Democratic City governance of Atlanta, seem almost monomaniacally fixated on building Cop City.

And this week, the long fight culminated with a marathon 16-hour meeting of the Atlanta City Council, in a 5:30 A.M. vote, finally approving funding for the facility. More than 300 people stepped up to speak ahead of that vote, the vast majority of them registering their strong opposition to the plan.


UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN 1: Building a mock city for police officers to practice defense tactics, use militarized equipment, and destroy forest land that’s crucial to combat the effects of climate change is not only harmful, it's anti-black, it’s reinforcing ways to white supremacist tactics, and it's tone-deaf.

UNIDENTIFIED MAN: The police treatment of Tortuguita and the Atlanta Solidarity Fund and other activists confirms that the Atlanta police should not be rewarded with their own amusement park.

UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN 2: If you want to protect the people of Atlanta, invest in affordable housing, community food programs, and other emergency financial assistance, not in Cop City.

[Crowd chanting “Cop City will never be built”]  


HAYES: Now, the context here is important, right, this comes in this broader context of a national conversation about violence in policing over the past few years, right. In 2020, we watched civil rights protests, perhaps the largest in American history, spread across the country after the videotaped police killing of George Floyd. That same year, the rate of violent crime began to spike, with the murder rate jumping up nearly 30 percent.

Now, however, after the plans for Cop City have been initiated, it seems the spike in violence may have had a lot more to do with the massive disruption of all aspects of social life of the pandemic and its aftermath.

Violent crime is rapidly on the decline now. Look at this headline. It's a great, encouraging headline. In Atlanta, the city where this is being done, homicide down more than 50 percent so far this year.

I think it's fair to say that it's just not clear if a 90-million-dollar police training facility is the wisest use of Atlanta's taxpayer dollars, even from a public safety perspective, given that headline.

Despite the overwhelming vote at the city council, opponents of Cop City are not giving up yet. Today, activists announced a plan to force a referendum vote on the project.

And I'll say this: if the people who are so dead set on this project really think it's great on the merits, I would imagine they would welcome a city-wide referendum to make their case, and give it a real mandate, so that Atlantans may actually get a say after all.