Issue #143 Counterinsurgent: Cop City, Abolition Ecology, and the Aesthetics of Counterreform

Counterinsurgent: Cop City, Abolition Ecology, and the Aesthetics of Counterreform

T. J. Demos

Two members of Defend the Atlanta Forest pose in front of a burned truck that was seized from a would-be construction crew. Photo: Jack Crosbie. Originally published in Rolling Stone.

Issue #143
March 2024

For those thinking about the arts and ecology—a critical formation that has thrived in recent years as global awareness of climate emergency has grown—the Defend Atlanta Forest and Stop Cop City grassroots movement might appear distant in relevance. Opposition to the construction of a new multimillion-dollar police training facility is most immediately connected to confrontation with policing, corrupted city finances, and antidemocratic municipal processes, even if it also concerns the defense of the largest urban forest in the country that the proposed facility will destroy. Abolition’s anti-racist, community-based activism might seem to have little to do with artistic approaches to ecology that prioritize “becoming attuned” to the botanical world through “a political aesthetics of movement and connection,” and that cultivate multispecies care and kinship relations, reparative ecosystems, and alternative land-based practices, all made urgent at a time of habitat loss and species extinction.1

But as Knoxville resident and local political correspondent Sorrel Inman recognizes, “The movement … opposing Cop City is one of the most important events going on in the country, if not the world,” because “it’s at the intersection of so many important matters surrounding ecology—including race issues, socioeconomic issues, and police violence.”2 One should also add art to these “important matters,” especially if it designates the practice of what Jennifer Ponce de Léon terms “creative world-building,” which struggles through counter-hegemonic aesthetic practice to reveal horizons of possibility—of anti-capitalist social justice and ecological flourishing—beyond the present ones, otherwise dedicated to ongoing violence and environmental destruction.3

If, as Olúfẹ́mi O. Táíwò warns, “climate apartheid”—a system of socio-environmental inequality enforced by police violence—is on the rise, then Cop City Atlanta offers an ominous flashpoint.4 For not only is Cop City an exemplary story of the violent repression of community activism at the nexus of abolition, decolonization, and environmentalism; it also spotlights the forces of counterinsurgency that are operating to prevent any political transformation beyond the status quo. If the environmentalist movement is losing in the struggle to stop world-ending climate change—as acknowledged by such theorists as Andreas Malm and Matthew Huber—then continuing to focus on practices of ecological repair is increasingly myopic, even escapist, without taking into account the forces blocking any meaningful change.5

Stop Cop City

The grassroots and decentralized movement to stop so-called Cop City formed in response to the state’s repression of the 2020 BLM uprisings, sparked in Atlanta by, among myriad injustices, the police killing of Rayshard Brooks. After police and prison abolitionists demanded both that APD be defunded and the city reallocate municipal resources to much-needed community services and infrastructure, city politicians and corporations—in a now familiar scenario—responded with increased police funding for better “safety.” Specifically, on March 31, 2021, Atlanta’s mayor announced plans for a $90 million “top notch” police training facility (with taxpayers bearing up to $67 million, and the total budget likely much higher).6 While the city justified the expense by claiming it would improve police performance, Community Movement Builders, an Atlanta-based African-American collective spearheading the resistance, countered that Cop City’s effect would ultimately be the same as always: to “stop mass movements and continue the harassment of Black poor and working class communities.”7

Community Movement Builders, 2020. Text painted on the background wall reads: “Protect the Black Community: Stop Gentrification.”

Over the last couple of years, Community Movement Builders have been joined by the many groups and individuals comprising the Defend the Atlanta Forest grassroots movement, whose participants object to Cop City’s destruction of a large section of the Weelaunee forest—the Indigenous Mvskoke name, meaning “brown water”—where an area spanning some eighty-five acres (on a total 381 acres of forested land), according to city plans, would be replaced with a mock “city” for police to practice urban warfare and tear gas and explosives testing, with dozens of shooting ranges and a Black Hawk helicopter landing pad (though the latter was removed from official plans in 2021). Social justice advocates and environmentalists have pointed out that Atlanta has the highest percentage of tree canopy of any American metropolitan area, which not only benefits the local community but also functions to filter rainwater and prevent flooding, helping to mitigate climate change, including urban heating. Forest defenders set up tree-sits and an encampment in late 2021, displaying agitprop banners propagating ecosocialist messages from the treetops. Community Movement Builders and the Movement for Black Lives organized social media workshops, including “A Black Abolitionist View of Cop City” with Angela Davis, as petition drives, art builds, and solidarity events added to the momentum. As a proliferating space of “biopolitical assemblage,” this nexus of activist bodies, physical sites, material infrastructure, technological media, cultural forms, and organizational practices has operated both as a multimodal dissent machine against the ruling order, and as a prefigurative rehearsal for alterative worlds.8

Meanwhile, Mvskoke leaders, descendants of the original occupants of the land who were forcibly expelled following the 1830 Indian Removal Act, served an eviction notice to Atlanta mayor Andre Dickens ordering the city and so-called Cop City to “immediately vacate Mvskoke homelands and cease violence and policing of Indigenous and Black people in Mvskoke lands.”9 Indigenous landback claims joined anti-racist abolitionists and environmental justice advocates in what has become an all-out intersectional insurgency opposed to the destructive state, which relies on “policing as the street administration of colonial racial capitalist orders,” in the words of Lisa Marie Cacho and Jodi Melamed.10 The antidote to the latter might well be called “abolition ecology,” which articulates through an environmentalist lens the anti-racist economic justice of W. E. B. Du Bois’s “abolition democracy,” along with Ruth Wilson Gilmore’s “abolition geography”—the liberation of space from racialized divisions driven by police and prisons.11 These latter two phrases are critically entangled with the long history of settler colonialism and racial capitalism, with abolition ecology—especially in the case of the Stop Cop City movement—sharpening the analysis in its focus on freeing environments, land use, and multispecies lifeworlds from the securitized property relations of colonial racial capitalism.12

A financial network diagram reveals major corporate funders of the Cop City project.

These mobilizations have not come without state response. Indeed, the situation dramatically shifted on January 18, 2023, when the forest encampment was violently raided and the peaceful, nonbinary forest defender Manuel Paez Terán, known as Tortuguita, was gunned down by police, shot multiple times while both hands were raised in surrender—the first time an environmentalist has been killed by police in US history.13 It turns out police had been briefed prior to their SWAT-style raid that they would be encountering dangerous extremists. Less than two months later, Atlanta police, in cooperation with the Georgia Bureau of Investigation, charged twenty-three nonviolent music festival goers associated with the Defend the Atlanta Forest Movement with “domestic terrorism,” as part of an unprecedented criminal indictment under the state’s RICO act, which prosecutes political association as organized crime and threatens enhanced jail time. Amplified by reactionary politicians like Q-Anon conspiracy promoter Marjorie Taylor Greene—who labeled Stop Cop City activists “antifa terrorists”—such narrative distortion and ideological projection abetted the Atlanta Police Foundation’s (APF) own stream of media “copaganda” targeting any and all opposition. (The APF is a private, nonprofit fundraising association, which, unlike police forces that are accountable to the public, answers only to its corporate directorate, including representatives of Delta Air Lines, Waffle House, Home Depot, Georgia-Pacific, Equifax, Wells Fargo, United Parcel Service, and more.)14 Advocates of the police training center, including local and state politicians, corporate investors, and the APF, have used every antidemocratic means at their disposal, in cooperation with city staff, to stymie the opposition, including the latter’s most recent grassroots tactic: a community referendum that had gathered 116,000 signatures to stop the police training facility, but which has been held up for months by legal challenges from the city.15


Counterinsurgency is generative, shaping reality according to its desires. It occurs in advance of the insurgency; power creates conditions that guarantee a preferred future’s unfolding.16 With Cop City, a discursive, juridico-political, and militarized force field has transformed popular resistance into what justifies power in the first place: “terrorism,” a label that seeks to preclude any legitimate discussion of the resistance’s position. As a vicious and anti-political logic operating to transform whatever is counter to power into power’s validation, counterinsurgency ensures that the more resistance grows, the more police can claim that repression is necessary, a justified response to the “terrorism” that the state has manufactured.

While it’s true some activists participating in the Stop Cop City movement have engaged in property destruction—torching construction equipment and damaging police cars—these actions can be defended as minimizing the ongoing violence that corporations are exacting on life and land in the era of climate catastrophe. Indeed, given dire environmental circumstances, Andreas Malm contends in his book How to Blow Up a Pipeline that the “art to be mastered … is that of controlled political violence.” He strategically differentiates property destruction as a form of “revolutionary violence” that has been an integral component of great popular struggles of the past—including anti-slavery abolition, anti-colonial liberation, and the anti-apartheid movement—from the indiscriminate violence against people waged as campaigns of terror.17 Some liberal commentators have taken Malm to task for ignoring what could be a slippery slope; but in the case of Cop City, it’s the state that has answered violence against property with indiscriminate violence against humans and the planet.

For Malm to characterize violence as a form of “art” is apt. Policing functions in fundamentally aesthetic ways, insofar as it seeks to control the common field of appearance, and, importantly, the place and function of identity within it. As Jacques Rancière writes on the political aesthetics of the police:

The police is … an order of bodies that defines the allocation of ways of doing, ways of being, and ways of saying, and sees those bodies are assigned by the name to a particular place and task … It is an order of the visible and the sayable that sees that a particular activity is visible and another is not, that this speech is understood as discourse and another as noise.18

This includes weaponizing perception by projecting “terrorism” onto targeted groups—whether in Atlanta, or during the #NoDAPL protests, where water protectors were labeled “jihadist fighters” by Iraq war vets working for TigerSwan private security, or most recently in Israel to rationalize and legitimize genocide against Palestinians. Doing so, counterinsurgency depoliticizes grievance: whatever threatens or challenges the system that organizes society—any revolutionary energy or rebellious disruption—is preemptively converted into criminality, and is thereby delegitimized and exposed to potentially deadly state violence. Counterinsurgency’s aesthetic dimensions thus carry lethal material impacts, as in the case of Tortuguita’s murder.

Weelaunee forest, 2022. Photo: Fernando Decillis.

An additional aesthetic element of counterinsurgency is its narrative distortion. In Atlanta, where a substantial Black political class is aligned with corporate interests—including the mayor of Atlanta Andre Dickens and several other Democrat city officials—political elites mobilize liberal identity politics against the opposition in ways that not only do little to mitigate structural inequality, but actually work to entrench it. Black leaders have done so both by staging photo ops to make it seem as if the Black community at large supports the police facility (when it’s really just a narrow class fraction), and by selectively arresting non-Black activists without local addresses to dismiss the opposition as white “outside agitators.” According to abolitionist organizer Eva Dickerson, the failure of “Black Georgia Democrats to oppose the [police] facility is a slap in the face.” When such leaders lend “‘respectability’ to the Cop City project, they are simply performing their role in the Atlanta Way bargain,” meaning “the destructive collaboration between Black political elites and white economic elites in service of racial capitalism.”19 In the process, activists are transformed into spectral projections that serve state/corporate interests, covering over the actual reality of the Stop Cop City movement’s multiracial and intersectional composition.

Prehensive Futurity

Counterinsurgency has a distinctive chronopolitics. It acts as a mode of prehensive futurity. For Jasbir Puar, “the prehensive authorizes a set of predictive facts-on-the-ground sutured to the language of risk and probability.” Indeed, “as an addition to reactive and preemptive forms of securitization, the prehensive is about making the present look exactly the way it needs to in order to guarantee a very specific and singular outcome in the future.”20 In this regard, it’s not far from what Alberto Toscano, building on the Black Radical Tradition and writings by George Jackson and Angela Davis, terms “racial fascism,” which is specific to a US founded on racialized slavery and Indigenous genocide and which functions as “preventive counterreform.” The latter recalls the targeted racialized anti-communism of past eras, which was fueled by an authoritarian liberalism that distinguished itself from interwar fascisms. Preventive counterreform’s now more widely dispersed operations are capable of neutralizing any opposition to its order with unrestrained violence, “treating any mildly progressive policy as the harbinger of the imminent abolition of all things American.”21 All this is apparent in an Atlanta experiencing hyper-gentrification and Black eviction, where counterinsurgency in general and Cop City in particular are geared toward preempting opposition to new waves of extraction and real-estate accumulation, thereby ensuring (and producing) the future those in power want.

Stop Cop City: defend the ATL forest, poster, 2023.

What motivates the Cop City initiative—beyond its patently false regime of justification—is a funding network linking tech corporations, media, city government, and the APF, the driving force behind the police training facility. Private equity funds like Roark Capital and Silver Lake Management have invested generously in the APF, exploiting tax incentives enshrined in Georgia state law in 2022 to de-risk private investment; the APF, in turn, purchases cybernetic services and surveillance equipment from corporations (such as Motorola and Axon, formerly Taser) in which those same equity funds are invested.22 Meanwhile, the CEO of Cox Enterprises, the Atlanta media conglomerate that regularly spins editorials in support of Cop City, officially manages APF fundraising. Motorola Solutions has assisted with Atlanta’s “Operation Shield,” a network of over sixteen thousand surveillance cameras monitored by the police, making Atlanta one of the most surveilled cities in the world. Video data feeds into the Atlanta police’s computer-based Loudermilk Integration Center—named after the family that donated $1 million to the APF—which also runs Operation Aware, a predictive policing and criminal analytics platform in partnership with Microsoft. Elements of this cloud-connected AI camera network have been “battle tested” in what Anthony Loewenstein calls “the Palestine Laboratory,” where the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) rely on Motorola tech.23 For more than three decades Georgia police have been trained by the IDF through the Georgia International Law Enforcement Exchange (GILEE) for more than three decades, as pointed out by the Black Alliance for Peace, which are rightly concerned about how “the U.S. imposes settler-colonial violence upon African/Black, Indigenous, and Palestinian communities through initiatives like police training with Israeli occupying forces and the urban warfare training facility, Cop City.”24 All of the above forms an octopus-like network exemplifying the globalization of counterinsurgency within neoliberal markets as a commodified industry of oppression.

A hand-painted banner in the Weelaunee Forest says “Forest Defense is Self Defense.”

The resulting high-tech hyper-policing forms “digital carceral infrastructures,” which, as Jackie Wang argues, have responded to the police’s post-BLM crisis of legitimacy. (Cop City Atlanta will be joined by a nearby Hollywood-style production park being developed by Shadowbox Studios—with an additional $500 million investment from Silver Lake, and at further cost to the forest. This facility is poised to contribute to the further aestheticization and naturalization of police and military violence that already constitutes mainstream pro-police cinematic displays.)25 But, as algorithmic-justice researchers like Joy Buolamwini show, this new, supposedly neutral computerized paradigm, including AI-aided facial recognition protocols, is itself prone to bias. As Wang argues, systems like PredPol conceal “how the data and the categories it relies on are already shaped by structural racism.”26 Further aesthetic dimensions are hard to ignore: When people are techno-visually transformed into threatening phantasmagoria—reduced to pixels in probability fields—they become visible figurations of projected risk. They are statistical consignment to stereotypes of criminality and terrorism that function to automate, and thus dehumanize, state response. “The risk posed by AI is not a machine-tyranny of automated decisions,” Dan McQuillan observes, “but the amplification of existing human tendencies to automaticity. AI not only undermines due process, but produces thoughtlessness.” Indeed, “these are forms of everyday fascist thinking, even when not undertaken on behalf of an explicitly far-right regime.”27 To emphasize this point, consider that in February 2024, the Georgia Senate passed a bill criminalizing bail funds for protest groups. This follows the arrest, under the RICO charges mentioned above, of three people involved with the Atlanta Solidarity Fund. In addition to marking a harrowing escalation in the state’s repressive tactics, as many observers have pointed out, this will only exacerbate already overcrowded prisons.28

That’s the world Cop City represents, and what the opposition is ultimately responding to: an expanded carceral complex to train for future urban conflict, which, as a form of techno-media counterinsurgency backed by militarized force, will preemptively target any threat to the interests of fossil capitalism.29 And such prehensive futurity is not just happening in Atlanta. Similar training facilities are planned or have already been built all over the US, including Chicago’s Joint Public Safety Training Campus (costing $170 million) and new police training centers in New Jersey ($120 million), Las Vegas ($35 million), San Pablo, California ($44 million), and elsewhere.

Possible Arts

In her critique of Malm’s “radical flank” theory—the idea that militant activists can render more moderate approaches appealing and thus more effective—Thea Riofrancos points out how aggressive tactics can be ineffectual—and even more vulnerable to counterinsurgency—without large-scale social movements to back them up. That’s how a 54 percent majority of Americans came to support burning down a police precinct in Minneapolis during the George Floyd protests, as there were 15–26 million people on the streets who helped make that act appear justified.30 And it was precisely months of social movement organizing using a strategic diversity of tactics that got Atlas Technical Consultants, one of the biggest contracting firms in the country, to cut ties with Cop City in the summer of 2023. If social movement base-building is the surest way of preventing tactics from inadvertently playing into the logic of counterinsurgency, and thereby making the politically possible more likely—whether in the name of abolition or climate justice—then how might the arts contribute?

Some contend we—cultural producers, artists, researchers, and so on—lack an aesthetics of our age, one that could grant visibility to catastrophic environmental transformation and provide “ways to imagine the earth going forward.”31 In the case of Cop City Atlanta, this seems true, if measured by local art institutions, where there have appeared zero exhibitions or public discussions of the situation, whether at the High Museum of Art, the Atlanta Contemporary, or the Museum of Contemporary Art of Georgia. Perhaps that’s because the donors to these institutions—including Coca Cola, Wells Fargo, Home Depot, and Cox Enterprises—are among those giving millions to the Atlanta Police Foundation.

Certainly, there’s nothing like “Twenty-Nine Million Dreams,” a 2023 show at the New York Civil Liberties Union that addressed the bloated budget of the NYPD, which currently receives $11 billion per year, or $29 million per day—larger than half the world’s militaries, and more than the city spends on health, homelessness, youth, and workforce development combined. With budgets like this, it’s clear that the police are defunding us, appropriating the public resources that would ultimately make policing less necessary.32 In fact, we don’t actually lack an aesthetics of our age—perhaps just the major institutions or organizations to help transform a critical visuality, or what Faye Gleisser advocates more precisely as a much-needed self-protective “punitive literacy,” into the common sense of the intersectional environmental movement.33

Forensic Architecture, Environmental Racism in Death Alley, 2021.

One can speculatively model a prefigurative visual culture that could contribute to the Stop Cop City movement. This would be a prehensive arts, a kind of militant research, maybe something like a counter-counterinsurgency, or what Gramsci called a “possible arts” that contribute to the desired unfolding of a just future—in this case, an abolition ecology.34 Imagine a Forensic Architecture project dedicated to Cop City, akin to its 2021 piece Environmental Racism in Death Alley, Louisiana, which, through video, networked imagery, cartographic research, and ground truthing, investigated the history of anti-Black racism on Southern plantations and the way it lives on today in the siting of petrochemical facilities in African-American neighborhoods. Or what if Decolonize This Place’s “Strike MoMA” tactics, with their modeling of “institutional liberation” and highlighting of the collusion between museums and Indigenous-Black dispossession, were transported to Atlanta and deployed against Cop City and its network of funders, including Atlanta-based cultural institutions? Or imagine an arts of organizing, the kind Jonas Staal has committed to, that operated in solidarity with African-American struggles and transcended short-term protests and the ephemeral politics of outrage? Such practices would reject the political complacency of accepting the supposed non-knowability of the “open secret” of counterinsurgency’s dark epistemology—“command[ing] its power by means of a revelation we can never fully know.”35 Instead, they would reveal actionable evidence of what we can know, putting it to work in the material transformation of reality.

No such models, as far as I’m aware, are currently in development in Atlanta, at least at the arts-institutional level. But that doesn’t mean they, or others, won’t exist in the coming months and years. It’s not that bringing such art projects to Atlanta will save the day; rather, they could draw in more institutions and contribute to the multiracial, intersectional efforts already under way. These include the diverse aesthetic output of the Stop Cop City movement and its allies, such as impactful solidarity documentaries, like those produced by the Atlanta Community Press Collective, as well as smaller-scale documentation of property destruction and activist interventions shared on social media. The Weelaunee Solidarity Collective has contributed to the movement by staging plays, including in Chiapas during the 2024 Zapatista encuentro, dramatizing and commemorating key scenes from the Atlanta struggle. Another troupe, the Weelaunee Defense Society, created a Stop Cop City anarchist haunted house and raised over ten thousand dollars for the struggle. Indeed, the movement has developed an entire visual lexicon of powerful agitprop, including Stop Cop City–themed Moomin illustrations and various zines, posters, memes, and social media graphics accessible through Defend the Atlanta Forest’s open-access media kit.36 Through these multifaceted, inspiring means, the Stop Cop City movement is modeling an impressive solidarity between Atlanta’s African-American community (especially Community Movement Builders), the Muskogee people and Indigenous land protectors more broadly, and environmental justice advocates internationally.37 It’s precisely the kind of political coalition necessary to stop the climate apartheid that threatens our collective future. Given the multiple moving parts, one clear imperative remains, which is to continue organizing—including within the aesthetic, as a contingent, conflicted site of insurgent struggle, and with a critical analysis of the forces stacked against us.


Anna Lowenhaupt Tsing, Andrew S. Mathews, and Nils Bubandt, “Patchy Anthropocene: Landscape Structure, Multispecies History, and the Retooling of Anthropology,” Current Anthropology 60, no. S20 (August 2019).


Quoted in Jaedon Mason, “Protest in Response to Death of Stop Cop City Activist Ends with Property Damage, Arrests,” Decaturish, January 22, 2023 .


Another Aesthetics Is Possible: Arts of Rebellion in the Fourth World War (Duke University Press, 2021), 8.


“Climate Apartheid Is the Coming Police Violence Crisis,” Dissent, August 12, 2020 .


Malm, How to Blow Up a Pipeline (Verso, 2021); Huber, Climate Change as Class War: Building Socialism on a Warming Planet (Verso, 2022).


See .


See .


Protest Camps in International Context: Spaces, Infrastructures and Media of Resistance, ed. Gavin Brown et al. (Bristol University Press, 2018); Yates McKee, Strike Art: Contemporary Art and the Post-Occupy Condition (Verso, 2016), 101.


Braden Harper, “Mvskoke Protesters Deliver Eviction Notice to Stop “Cop City” on Georgia Homelands,” Mvskoke Media, March 21, 2023 .


“‘Don’t Arrest Me, Arrest the Police’: Policing as the Street Administration of Colonial Racial Capitalist Orders,” in Colonial Racial Capitalism, ed. Susan Koshy et al. (Duke University Press, 2022).


Gerald Horne, “Abolition Democracy,” The Nation, May 3, 2022 ; Gilmore, Golden Gulag: Prisons, Surplus, Crisis, and Opposition in Globalizing California (University of California Press, 2007).


Nik Heynen and Megan Ybarra, “On Abolition Ecologies and Making ‘Freedom as a Place,’” Antipode (August 20, 2020). I am also drawing on my work mobilizing “abolition ecology” with DSA Santa Cruz’s Ecosocialist Working Group .


Natasha Lennard, “Police Shot Atlanta Cop City Protester 57 Times, Autopsy Finds,” The Intercept, April 20, 2023 .


Tia Brown, “Meet the Major Corporations and Cultural Institutions Helping Build Cop City in Atlanta,” Eyes on the Ties / LittleSis, November 15, 2022 .


Petitioners submitted signatures on September 11, 2023, but the City of Atlanta has consistently refused to verify them, owing to spurious legal reasoning. This leaves the democratic challenge in a state of suspension at the time of this writing, February 10, 2024.


Stuart Schrader, Badges without Borders: How Global Counterinsurgency Transformed American Policing (University of California Press, 2019).


How to Blow Up a Pipeline, 110.


Disagreement: Politics and Philosophy, trans. Julie Rose (University of Minnesota Press, 2004), 29.


“How the Black Misleadership Class Provides Cover to Cop City,” Hammer & Hope, no. 2 (Summer 2023) .


The Right to Maim: Debility, Capacity, Disability (Duke University Press, 2017), 148.


“Racial Fascism,” Boston Review, October 28, 2020 .


Private Equity Stakeholder Project, PE Profits from Destroying the Atlanta Forest: Uncovering private equity connections to Cop City and Blackhall Studios, 2023.


The Palestine Laboratory: How Israel Exports the Technology of Occupation Around the World (Verso, 2023).


“Abolish the GILEE program and Stop Cop City,” Mondoweiss, June 4, 2023 .


Noah Tsika, “Beyond ‘Copaganda’: Hollywood’s Offscreen Relationship with the Police,” Oxford University Press Blog, January 11, 2022 .


“‘This Is a Story About Nerds and Cops’: PredPol and Algorithmic Policing,” e-flux journal, no. 87 (December 2017) . See also Wang, Carceral Capitalism (Semiotext(e), 2018); and Joy Buolamwini, Algorithmic Justice League .


“Non-Fascist AI,” in Propositions for Non-Fascist Living: Tentative and Urgent, ed. Maria Hlavajova and Wietske Maas (MIT Press, 2019), 116.


George Chidi, “Georgia Senate Passes Bill Curtailing Charitable Bail Funds for Protest Groups,” The Guardian, February 2, 2024 .


For more on this conflict, through the lens of Atlanta policing and opposition to it in the context of high-tech urbanism, see Stephanie Wakefield and Glenn Dyer, “‘Stop the Metaverse, Save the Real World,’” e-flux Architecture, September 2022 .


Riofrancos, “Where Should the Climate Movement Go Next?” The Nation, July 25, 2022 .


This was the framing conceptualization of “Imagine Earth,” a conference at Louisiana Museum of Modern Art, Denmark, organized by Jacob Lund, Michael Kjær, and Mathias Ussing Seeberg, in which I took part, June 8–9, 2023.


This compelling argument—that we must “abolish the conditions” (of economic inequality, neoliberal privatization, and the destruction of social services) that produce the criminality used to justify policing in turn—is that of Cedric Johnson, After Black Lives Matter: Policing and Anti-Capitalist Struggle (Verso, 2023).


Risk Work: Making Art and Guerrilla Tactics in Punitive America, 1967–1987 (University of Chicago Press, 2023).


I’m building on several sources here, including Ariella Azoulay’s “imagining” strikes in Potential History; Puar’s “prehensive futurity”; and Gramsci’s “possible art,” cited and discussed in Ponce de León, Another Aesthetics is Possible, 6.


Pamela M. Lee, “Open Secret: The Work of Art Between Disclosure and Redaction,” Artforum 49, no. 9 (May 2011); see also Eyal Weizman, “Open Verification,” e­-flux Architecture, June 2019 .


For more on the ongoing initiatives of the Stop Cop City movement, see the abolitionist nonprofit Atlanta Community Press Collective , and the organization Stop Cop City Solidarity . See also the Weelaunee Solidarity Collective, “The 2024 Zapatista Encuentro: A Report-back with Footage of a Play about the Movement to Stop Cop City,”, January 18, 2024 ; Weelaunee Defense Society, “How to Host a Haunted House: A Guide for Anarchists with a Video Walkthrough,”, January 19, 2024 ; and the Defend the Atlanta Forest media kit .


See the cross-racial solidarity statement quoted in “Atlanta Mayor Andre Dickens Flees from Msvkoke Ceremonial Leaders Trying to Deliver Eviction Notice, Call for End to Cop City Project on Msvkoke Land,” news release, ICT, March 9, 2023 . See also the open letter signed by sixteen environmental groups, as cited in Charles Bethea, “The New Fight Over and Old Forest in Atlanta,” New Yorker, August 3, 2022 .

Protests & Demonstrations, Climate change, Police & Prisons, Art Activism
Return to Issue #143

T. J. Demos is an award-winning writer on contemporary art, global politics, and ecology. He is Professor in the Department of the History of Art and Visual Culture, at University of California, Santa Cruz, and founder and director of its Center for Creative Ecologies.


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