NLG Condemns Police Murder Protester Tortuguita and Ongoing State Violence Against Forest Defenders

January 20, 2023
Contact: Director of Communications
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Atlanta, GA — During a militarized attack against protesters and Forest Defenders on January 18, Atlanta police shot and killed a protester named Tortuguita, who was camping in a public park to defend the Weelaunee Forest. This murder by the police is part of an ongoing attempt to silence and control activists, expand policing, and escalate the climate catastrophe. 

“The Forest Defenders in Atlanta are trying to protect their community from the ever-increasing threat of climate catastrophe and militant policing,” said Susi Durán, Chair of NLG Atlanta Chapter. “In response to these protesters’ righteous requests, Georgia State Patrol murdered Forest Defender Tortuguita. This is an unacceptable abuse of power and proves that more police will not make our communities safer.”

The Atlanta Police Foundation is attempting to deforest 381 acres of the Weelaunee Forest in order to build a $90 million, 85-acre police training facility, referred to as “Cop City” by local residents. Community members largely oppose the construction of this facility. Aside from diverting city funds away from community resources, building this facility will increase police surveillance of the predominantly Black neighborhoods surrounding the Forest and will contribute to the mass degradation of our planet.

“In Atlanta and across the US, investment in police budgets comes at the expense of access to food, education, childcare, and healthcare, of affordable and stable housing, of parks and public spaces, of transit and the free movement of people, of economic stability for the many,” organizers with Defend the Atlanta Forest said in a statement.

NLG mourns the devastating loss of Atlanta activist and medic Tortuguita. They are remembered by their community and loved ones as a kind, passionate, and caring person. The Atlanta Community Press Collective is compiling memories and accounts of their life.

The National Lawyers Guild has used law to promote human rights over property interests for 85 years. The NLG Legal Observer program trains volunteers to witness police conduct. For more information about NLG’s activist support programs, please visit the NLG website.


Posted in News, Press Releases.