1/13 | Defend the Atlanta Forest/Stop Cop City, Notre-Dame-des-Landes, & Temporary Autonomous Zones

Kamau Franklin, André Pettman, Tiffany Williams Roberts, and Bernard E. Harcourt


Defend the Atlanta Forest/#StopCopCity, the ZAD de Notre-Dame-des-Landes, and Temporary Autonomous Zones

Wednesday, September 6, 2023

Columbia University


It requires a colossal amount of cooperation to mount a temporary autonomous zone. Over the past few decades, a growing number of occupations intended to block neoliberal, prison-industrial, and infrastructural projects have proliferated, all with a deep political ambition of transforming society. Think here of the water carriers who gathered at Standing Rock to oppose the Dakota Access Pipeline, of the farmers and environmental activists and anarchists who occupied Notre-Dame-des-Landes to block the construction of an international airport, of the NoTAV movement opposing the construction of a high-speed train line between Turin and Lyons, of Occupy Wall Street in Zuccotti Park that grew in opposition to neoliberal pilfering in the wake of the financial meltdown, of the occupations in Brazil in 1988 against the building of the dam in Altamira—all of these are political spaces of temporary autonomy that require a massive amount of cooperation. These are ongoing today, as we speak, with the forest defenders in Atlanta of #StopCopCity opposing the destruction of the Weelaunee Forest and construction of an 85-acre, $90 million police training facility. It is happening in Turkey as well, right now, where activists have been resisting a plan to clear-cut the Akbelen forest in South-Western Turkey to make room for government-sponsored expansion of coal mines in the region, facing down a brutal authoritarian government.

How does cooperation work in these settings? How do people come together, join forces, work together towards a common objective and achieve solidarity and collectivity?

That is the focus of our first session of Coöperism 13/13. And we turn immediately, because of the urgency of the situation, to Atlanta and to the movement to Defend the Atlanta Forest & #StopCopCity opposing the construction of a police training ground in the forest just outside of Atlanta. It is the urgency of that movement—and of its repression—that makes us prioritize it today. Just yesterday, Republican Attorney General Chris Carr unveiled new indictments against 61 people accused of being “militant anarchists,” using Georgia’s RICO statute. As Kamau Franklin underscored yesterday, the date that the supposed “racketeering enterprise” began was the day that George Floyd was murdered by the police. “Let that sink in,” Franklin writes.

The urgency in Atlanta interpellates us. So we begin there. We’ll be hearing from Kamau Franklin, a dedicated community organizer and attorney who’s deeply involved in organizing down in Atlanta, as well as Tiffany Williams Roberts, Director of the Public Policy Unit at the Southern Center for Human Rights in Atlanta, who is spearheading legal defense for the forest defenders in Atlanta. And we will put the ongoing efforts in Georgia in conversation with the decades-long efforts at Notre-Dame-des-Landes, turning to André Pettman, a brilliant young scholar at Columbia who is studying these forms of cooperation through literary texts with a specific focus on the ZAD (“Zone à défendre”) at Notre-Dame-des-Landes.

Welcome to Coöperism 1/13!

(Photo: Matthew Pearson/WABE)