Atlanta: Protests, multiple arrests at “Cop City” site where police gunned down eco-activist – National & International News – MON 6Mar2023

Atlanta: Protests, multiple arrests at “Cop City” site where eco-activist was gunned down by police.

Second Norfolk Southern train derails in Ohio, just over a month after East Palestine

Greece: Violent protests in Athens after train crash that killed 57


Atlanta: Protests, multiple arrests at “Cop City” site where eco-activist was gunned down by police

Over the weekend, police arrested dozens of protesters who they claimed took part in a “coordinated attack” at a construction site for a future $90 million training center for police and firefighters. Protesters set fire to construction equipment at the site. Police have charged 23 of them under Georgia’s state domestic terrorism statute. This follows 6 arrests of activists using the same charges after a Jan. 18 raid of a protest encampment in the forest. That was the first time in US history a state law has been used this way against an environmental movement.

Dubbed “Cop City”, the center will occupy the site of a former penal farm in an area of woodland known as South River. The site borders a Black working-class neighborhood in Southeast Atlanta. Cop City will feature a mock village including fake convenience stores, homes and even a nightclub which police trainees will use to practice tactical raids.

Opponents of the project say the building of cop city will have destructive environmental impacts. They say there was no satisfactory assessment of the impacts before the project was approved. Atlantans are also unhappy about the militaristic nature of the facility and the training that will take place there.

The death of Tortuguita

The Jan. 18 raid also resulted in the death of 26-year-old indigenous Venezuelan-American activist Manuel Esteban Paez Terán, who went by the name “Tortuguita”. An autopsy commissioned by Paez Terán’s family found that the activist had been shot 12 or 13 times, possibly with multiple weapons. 

The events that led to Tortuguita’s death remain in dispute. Around 9 am, that morning group of officers from the Atlanta police, Dekalb county police, Georgia state patrol, the Georgia Bureau of Investigation and possibly the FBI entered the forest to clear a campsite where the activists had been living, some of them for over 2 years.

The officers claim that Tortuguita fired on them “without warning” and wounded an officer. The GBI claims ballistic evidence showed the bullet that wounded the officer was fired from a gun Tortuguita had legally purchased in 2020. Other activists disbelieve this and claim that the officer might have been wounded by friendly fire or even by his own weapon. 

GBI claims there is no police bodycam footage of the encounter and hasn’t published any of the evidence they say backs up their account.

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Second Norfolk Southern train derails in Ohio, just over a month after East Palestine

On Saturday, March 4, a Norfolk Southern train derailed in Springfield, OH. This was just a month after the Feb. 3 derailment of another Norfolk Southern train in East Palestine, which has created health issues the community are still grappling with. Unlike the East Palestine derailment, federal and state authorities were quick to address the Springfield derailment publicly.

About 20 of the 212 cars on the Springfield train derailed, but authorities were quick to assure the public that no hazardous chemicals were believed to be on board. However, today authorities acknowledged that some of the other cars on the train were carrying hazardous materials. authorities ordered residents within 1,000 feet of the derailment to shelter in place out of an abundance of caution. 

Following this second derailment, Norfolk Southern has released a “6-point safety plan“. The only substantive points of the plan include better monitoring of the Civil War-era brakes still used on the trains. It makes no mention of any plans to upgrade these brakes to Electronically Controlled Pneumatic (ECP), which likely would have prevented both the Springfield and East Palestine derailment.

A bipartisan Senate bill, dubbed the Railway Safety Act of 2023, likewise doesn’t require rail companies to install ECP brakes. However, the competing Decreasing Emergency Railroad Accident Instances Locally (DERAIL) Act would require trains carrying toxic and hazardous materials to used ECP brakes. The DERAIL act was proposed by Democratic Reps. Chris Deluzio and Ro Khanna, both from Pennsylvania which was also affected by the East Palestine disaster. 



Greece: Violent protests in Athens after train crash that killed 57

Officials say that about 12,000 protesters (though it was very likely more) gathered near the Greek Parliament in Athens this weekend to voice their outrage over the decline of the nation’s commuter rail system. The protesters included students and members of the rail workers union.

Many of the 57 people killed in the midnight head-on collision between a passenger train and a freight train were students returning to the northern Greek city of Thessaloniki following a holiday. The rail workers’ union have for years been calling attention to rampant equipment failures and increasingly lax safety enforcement on the railroad. Much of this deterioration has taken place since a private Italian company took over operation of the state-owned passenger rail in 2017. However, the railroad system had been in decline ever since the beginning of the Greek debt crisis in 2008.

Police have arrested the station master at Larissa, which the passenger train had departed from 12 minutes before the crash. Authorities contend the station master’s negligence was responsible for the crash. However, members of the union believe the government is scapegoating the station master to avoid addressing larger problems within the rail system.

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