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Editor's note: This essay was originally published in WearYourVoice magazine at the height of the summer 2020 uprisings, when the murder of Atlanta's Rayshard Brooks and the violent police response to protestors warranted a deeper understanding of the intimate connections between Atlanta and Palestine's respective carceral apparatuses—both of which mutually benefit from the GILEE program. Given the ongoing struggle today at Atlanta's #CopCity to protect and defend the Weelaunee Forest against the state and corporate capital's insistence on its destruction to construct the Atlanta Public Safety Training Center on the site, this evergreen piece provides timely context for our present struggle.

This is a statement of solidarity between our two peoples, Palestinians and Black people, as we resist Israeli and American genocide.

Over the span of mere days in June of 2020, Atlantans bore witness to yet another murder of a Black person at the hands of police, the resignation of police chief Erika Shields, and uprisings against state violence. Following the former police chief's resignation, over eight other Atlanta police officers resigned from their posts, citing "low morale" as their reasoning. In Shields's absence, it was reported that Deputy Chief Rodney Bryant, who has since retired after 34 years with the department, would step in as the interim police chief.

In 2014, the Atlanta Police Department (APD) published a press release noting that Bryant had "completed a two-week public safety program and exchange focused on new public safety techniques and technologies." This training took place in apartheid israel through the Georgia International Law Enforcement Exchange (GILEE)—a program that APD has supported since it was founded in 1992. GILEE's sole purpose is to serve as a cross-national service for Georgia officers to learn "best practices on counterterrorism measures" from the Zionist Entity.

Instead of aligning herself with the impoverished and otherwise marginalized Black Atlantans who suffer the violence of the american empire, our mayor, Keisha Lance Bottoms, and her underlings fully stepped into their roles as members of The Establishment and the Black Elite, using their position as Black (mis)leaders to aid in the perpetuation of global antiblackness by appointing Bryant to this position. This was not new for her. In fact, both through her tenure as mayor and previously as a member of city council, Keisha Lance Bottoms made it her business to undermine progress towards liberation—even going so far as to use her authoritative position to expand the powers of the police state.

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For upwards of a decade, organizers and community members in Atlanta have called for APD to withdraw its participation in GILEE, all to no avail. In tandem with other police departments in the Atlanta Metro area, these officers return to our city equipped, prepared, and enthusiastic to reproduce terroristic violence on Black people like Kathryn Johnston, Alexia Christian, Anthony Hill, Nicholas Thomas, Jamarion Robinson, Caine Rogers, Oscar Cain, Jimmy Atchison, D'ettrick Griffin, and Rayshard Brooks. As we witnessed in the weeks of protests that followed, they have the state-backing and the resources to tear gas us, shoot us with their rubber bullets, and even threaten the use of a Long Range Acoustic Device (LRAD). This is only made possible by this city's (mis)leaders' commitment to our deaths through state-sanctioned murder—in all of its varying forms.

In Palestine, the Zionist Entity's colonial system ensures the continued subjugation of the Palestinian people through mass movement restrictions, home demolitions, theft of water and land, mass incarceration, and the denial of Palestinian refugees from returning to their land. The Zionist Entity's commitment to Palestinian death is epitomized by its overwhelming military assaults on Gaza which have killed thousands. In spite of the Zionist Entity's crimes committed against the Palestinian people, the Palestinian Authority operates only to secure its political hegemony and capital. In parallel with the Black (mis)leadership, these Palestinian compradors claim that partnership with the Zionists is necessary for the sake of peace and state-development. These claims ring hollow for the Palestinian masses, who continue their just struggle against Zionist settler-colonialism.

The most critical connection between these two bodies of people is that we will forever resist the powers of white supremacy that have tried and failed to kill us.

To this point, the Zionist Entity's police execution of Eyad Hallaq in 2020 mirrors that of Rayshard Brooks's; their deaths exist harmoniously in that both america and the Zionist Entity are made "legitimate" only through the continued murders of Black and Palestinian people. The priorities of the Atlanta government and the Zionist Entity are in contradiction to the safety of our peoples.

We will not accept empty gestures of TLGBQ+ support by our so-called leaders under the guise of being "progressive." In an orientalist effort to justify its existence and pander to neoliberal sentiments, the Zionist Entity carries out "pinkwashing," presenting itself to the world as "the only democratic state in the Middle East" which allows the free expression of TLGBQ+ individuals in its society. In reality, the IDF has been known to entrap queer Palestinians and threaten outing them to their families, humiliating them if they do not agree to collaborate with the oppressive israeli regime. Zionist missiles do not change direction when a queer Palestinian is in range. Furthermore, to paint itself as queer-friendly, the Zionist Entity hosts yearly pride parades and festivals and asserts that it "adamantly protects the rights of its gay citizens," much like how "rainbow capitalism" pervades Atlanta in its effort to live up to "the city too busy to hate."

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Atlanta paints the crosswalks of white, affluent parts of this city with colors of the rainbow while its leadership actively proposes legislation that would further criminalize sex work—an occupation disproportionately engaged by Black trans people in this city. Atlanta's leadership hired a white lesbian woman to be APD's police chief while at least a third of this city's homeless youth remain TLGBQ+. Annually, there are Pride events for the entire month of June and for a week in September, yet APD remains the greatest threat to Black trans women in this city. Overwhelmingly, rainbow capitalism and pinkwashing are used as propagandizing tools by america and apartheid israel to discard of queer and trans Black and Palestinian people, and to project a faux image of progressivism by co-opting our movements.

All of these things considered, this is a statement—written in its entirety by Black and Palestinian radical organizers—intended to condemn Bryant, GILEE, and all other Black Atlanta and Zionist cops and politicians who give their bodies and platforms to the maintenance of this white supremacist imperialist capitalist patriarchy by way of borders, policing, and the occupation of stolen land.

Bottoms's failure to halt APD's participation in GILEE, as well as her failure to end operation WHIPLASH, scale back Atlanta's astronomical surveillance, or make any notable contributions to the fight to stop the displacement of legacy Black residents, brought her commitment to misleadership and the ultimate "black on black crime" to a global scale.

In 2017, Da'Shaun Harrison wrote of Atlanta's former mayor, Kasim Reed, and other Black politicians:

"While the harm Black individuals encounter during daily survival are frequently used to justify the flawed concept of 'black-on-black crime', the audacious nature of white supremacy to use Black [folks'] bodies to further an agenda for systemic eradication [of people and total movements] is the true 'black-on-black crime', in that Black [folks'] bodies become agents of the machine — white supremacy.

If white supremacy can recruit and weaponize Black American people to advocate for and push its policies, it can undermine the importance of the Black Liberation Movement and create what is ultimately the only and real black-on-black crime."

As this is the case, for the crimes committed against the people of our city and for its collusion with the israeli ethnostate, we will disband the Atlanta Police Department. As part of the abolition of APD, we intend to ensure that no officer ever participates in an international law enforcement exchange again. The points of alignment between Black people in Atlanta and the Palestinian people are many, and have been named time and time again by countless Black and non-Black Palestinian thought leaders, scholars, and organizers. The most critical connection between these two bodies of people is that we will forever resist the powers of white supremacy that have tried and failed to kill us.

We write this in full solidarity with all oppressed peoples across the globe who struggle under the thumb of imperialism. And more specifically, this is a statement of solidarity between our two peoples, Palestinians and Black people, as we resist against israeli and american genocide. It is also a statement which seeks to name that the material collaboration of our enemies demonstrates to us how connected we are as siblings in struggle.

As we occupy the streets of Atlanta yet again, we do so with a global analysis of imperialism, capitalism, Zionism, and antiblackness. The only way we win is together, and we will win.

More on cop city:

An open letter to Spelman College: Denounce Cop City Now

"As a school founded for formerly enslaved women, for Spelman to offer any support to the institution born of slave patrols is an insult to their legacy."

While the HBCU boasts a commitment to Black gender-oppressed people, alumni say that destroying a critical ecosystem to invest millions in police terror is the highest degree of antiblackness.

How 'the shadow of state abandonment' fostered then foiled Young Thug's YSL

Atlanta's YSL (Young Stoner Life) project has been about place-making as much as it's been about making music. But what happens when the state interferes?

There's a deep connection between policing and "urban renewal" in Atlanta. Through the state's various strongholds, including the police, transforming urban space always ends up taking some communities off the map entirely. YSL (and Young Thug) might be the next big casualties.

Cop City, Gentrification, and Young Thug: Atlanta's uneven war over greenspace in 'The City of the Forest'

The ongoing YSL trial that swept up a suite of Atlanta rappers from Young Thug to Gunna reveals how gentrification under the guise of urban renewal and the police state sustain each other.

The police's war on working-class Black life and culture in Atlanta works in tandem with the city's encroachment on un- and under-developed neighborhoods—and the green ecosystems standing in the way of gentrification.

Da'Shaun Harrison

Da’Shaun Harrison is a Black, fat, queer and trans theorist and abolitionist in Atlanta, GA. Harrison is the author of “Belly of the Beast: The Politics of Anti-Fatness as Anti-Blackness,” and is a public speaker who often gives talks and leads workshops on Blackness, queerness, gender, fatness, disabilities, and their intersections. Harrison currently serves as Scalawag’s Editor-at-Large.

Eva Dickerson

Eva Dickerson is a food systems thinker and cultural worker who spends their time between Atlanta, Georgia, and Chiang Mai, Thailand, making intentional spaces for people to imagine a better world.


Osama is a Palestinian based in Atlanta and works in healthcare. He also thinks drinking excessive amounts of coffee is a personality trait.


Bisan is a Palestinian Guatemalan who recently graduated with a bachelor’s in political science, and is based in Atlanta. She can’t wait for the revolution.