What follows is the second entry in a series of daily dispatches from a comrade who is attending the Weelaunee Summer Week of Action (June 24-July 1) in Atlanta, Georgia:
We arrived back at Brownwood Park around 10:30 this morning. The park was quiet: the only evidence of the week of action and yesterday's encounter with the police was the welcome table and a few other early arrivals. Last night, the space had been conceded, with the focus turning instead to a rave held in an uncontested part of the Weelaunee Forest. Here, beneath a railway bridge, people danced with one another into the early hours of the morning, cheering each time a train passed overhead. In the quiet of the following morning, it was clear to me as I lay beneath the branches of oak and sweetgum trees that exhaustion had permeated through the movement. Despite this, it was still full of life and, before anything else, a zone of unmitigated collective joy. This is the very thing that the Stop Cop City movement has predicated itself on since the beginning.
As exhaustion and repression take their toll, it is care and joy that continue to propel people forward. Looking at the clear blue sky through leaves and branches, Tortuguita's mother's words echoed in my mind again:
"The best way to defeat the police is to be happy."
Toward the early afternoon, numbers in the park grew to around 100. Most attended a talk on Crimethinc's "From Democracy to Freedom," discussing its conceptual framework in relation to the current referendum to overturn Atlanta City Council's decision to fund cop city. The central question was whether the referendum could be engaged with in a way that proliferated rather than recuperated the struggle. As people spoke, disagreed, and elaborated together, a capoeira roda took place in a depression opposite of the ramada. The sounds of the berimbau, drumming of the atabaque, and singing carried softly to the discussion area. Down in the roda, songs were shared about the liberation struggle of the enslaved people of Brazil from whom the martial tradition comes, and those leading the ritual offered a few words to connect those songs to the struggle to stop cop city:
"A luta continua. The struggle continues."
Where the movement seems to find itself presently is in a place of regathering. The fifth week of action, in March, was the cresting of a wave that had been building since the beginning. Now, we are the water pushing up onto the shores of this struggle, kinetic energy momentarily dispersing across soft sand. What will hopefully happen next is a regathering of that kinetic energy as water recedes back into the ocean, building into another wave. What this next wave will look like will depend on how gracefully we wash across the shores of struggle and the avenues we pursue to exit our present stalemate. If we allow the toll of this fight to fracture our experience of collective joy in life-as-struggle, then we will fail to match or exceed the crescendo we previously achieved.
So far, however, what I have experienced and witnessed is the strengthening and renewal of relations. As people continue to arrive from all parts of the country and the region, there are reunions and warm embraces, life updates and reconciliations, the powerful binding forces of common struggle. What I have seen so far are the same efforts I experienced during my first trip to Atlanta, the ones that left me feeling like I had fallen in love with being alive all over again. The movement to stop cop city is an affirmation of life against the death-world forced upon us.
Notes from the Forest is the second in a series of daily dispatches from a comrade who is attending the Weelaunee Summer Week of Action (June 24-July 1) in Atlanta, Georgia.