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Northwestern University and Evanston's Only Daily News Source Since 1881

The Daily Northwestern

Northwestern University and Evanston's Only Daily News Source Since 1881

The Daily Northwestern

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Fossil Free NU, FMO and NU SJP host teach-in on solidarity with Stop Cop City

More+than+40+students+attended+a+teach-in+Monday+evening+on+the+Stop+Cop+City+movement.+The+teach-in+began+with+a+moment+of+silence+and+ended+with+a+song.
Joyce Li/Daily Senior Staffer
More than 40 students attended a teach-in Monday evening on the Stop Cop City movement. The teach-in began with a moment of silence and ended with a song.

More than 40 students attended a teach-in Monday evening connecting the Stop Cop City movement with environmental justice, Palestinian liberation, abolition and Indigenous sovereignty. 

The event — organized by Fossil Free Northwestern, For Members Only and NU’s chapter of Students for Justice in Palestine — was held in solidarity with the Atlanta-based Stop Cop City coalition’s four-day “mass nonviolent direct action.” The national campaign culminated with a Monday march at the construction site of the Atlanta Public Safety Training Center to “Block Cop City.”

Stop Cop City is a decentralized movement aiming to stop the construction of the planned 85-acre police training center in the Atlanta area, which critics refer to as “Cop City.” 

The center, which is expected to cost $90 million, began construction in August in the South River Forest — referred to by activists and the indigenous Muscogee people, as the Weelaunee Forest —  which is one of the largest green spaces in the Atlanta area.

Communication senior and Fossil Free NU member Jordan Muhammad presented on the background of Stop Cop City and its relationship with Indigenous solidarity.

“We thought this was a good opportunity to acknowledge the movements that are so deeply alive in this moment and come together around that,” Muhammad said.

Organizers began the teach-in by commemorating Manuel “Tortuguita” Esteban Paez Terán, an environmental activist who was killed by police during a peaceful protest and occupation of the Weelaunee Forest in March, with a moment of silence.

The moment of silence also served to honor Palestinians in Gaza after the al-Quds Hospital, the second largest in the region, ceased operations Sunday after its fuel and medical supplies were depleted amid bombardments by Israeli forces.

The Israeli military has launched a continuous bombardment, blockage and ground offensive in the Gaza Strip since the militant group Hamas’ Oct. 7 attack on Israel. More than 11,000 Palestinians have been killed since the start of the war, while about 1,200 Israelis were killed in the initial attack, according to Israeli and Palestinian authorities.

“There’s some really important connections between what is happening with policing in Atlanta to what is happening with the IDF in Palestine and that really amplified our necessity to have a teach-in like this,” SESP sophomore Anusha Kumar, a member of Fossil Free NU, said. “To build solidarity across movements is to show that a lot of these struggles have similar roots and that we can take collective action for similar kinds of liberation.”

Weinberg sophomore and Fossil Free member Ruth Debono presented on the way anti-terrorism rhetoric is used to justify violence against both protesters in the U.S. and civilians in Gaza.

Israeli officials have said that the bombing of hospitals and ambulances and the siege on food, medicine and fuel in Gaza aim to target “Hamas terrorists.” 

In Atlanta, protesters involved in Stop Cop City were arrested under “domestic terror” charges in March, with police pointing to mud on their shoes and a number for a legal support line written on their arms as indications of criminal intent.

Debono also highlighted programs like the Georgia International Law Enforcement Exchange, which brings Georgia police to a variety of international locations, including Israel, to train in “homeland security and community policing.” 

“People in power are doing the same thing in so many cases, and that can be really depressing,” Muhammad said. “But I also think it’s liberating in that so many of our oppressors use similar tactics.”

Attendees were asked to scan a QR code linking to a document containing a list of ways to take action, such as emailing members of Congress a message from Jewish Voice for Peace calling for a ceasefire and calling the contractors and funders of the Atlanta Public Safety Training Center to demand they pull out of the project.

Organizers said they were surprised by the number of students who attended the teach-in.

“We haven’t had this much engagement and events in the past,” Muhammad said. “So we were really excited about the opportunity to be able to share this message with a lot of people and to take action together.”

Bienen sophomore Alex Neuser, who spoke about the role that the control over natural resources plays in colonialism, led attendees in a song to close the event.

Neuser said during protests, Stop Cop City activists sang “Our Defenders Will Not Fail,”  a song from “The Little Green Songbook for forests and their defenders.” The song’s lyrics include, “When the forest is in danger / For the plans of warlike powers…All our lives are linked together / For our world we must prevail.” 

“It also applies to other struggles around the world,” Neuser said. “And, it’s a great excuse to sing a song.”

Email: [email protected] 

Twitter: joyycee_li

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