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Atlanta HBCU students outraged over planned Atlanta Public Safety Facility

Spelman and Morehouse students have openly supported the Defend the Atlanta Forest and 'Stop Cop City' movements.

ATLANTA — Tension over the construction of Atlanta's public safety training facility is also felt on the campuses of Atlanta's Historically Black Colleges and Universities.

The facility, dubbed by opposers as "Cop City," has roped in students who have felt compelled to raise their voices against the project.

Spelman College senior Kannette King has expressed more than just a few concerns saying in the wake of so much public opposition, there is room to rethink the project.

"I think that there are better ways to have these types of trainings and facilities," said King. 

The planned sprawling structure would sit on a thousand-acre stretch of land in unincorporated DeKalb County and has faced controversy for months.

King said funds used to build the facility would be put to better use addressing needs in the community like food insecurity and homelessness. 

For King's peers, like Morehouse junior Calvin Bell, the controversy has prompted action. 

"We wanted to mobilize on our campus," Bell said. "And the first step that we took was taking over our Crown Forum."

Crown Forum, a weekly event that brings guest speakers to the campus, is typically used as an opportunity for students to hear from thought leaders. 

In February, Spelman and Morehouse students interrupted a discussion with Amazon Labor Union President Chris Smalls to bring attention to the public safety training facility's construction.

Both King and Bell have since organized discussions on campus to get input from students about how to move forward in their opposition to "Cop City."

In February, professors on both campuses signed petitions openly criticizing the building of the facility, which both students say gives them hope for their cause. 

"As people of color and as students of color, we want our voices to be heard and to know that we do not feel a sense of protection, especially when it comes to the hands of police officers in general," said Bell.

Moving forward, they're hoping the elected officials will hear them loud and clear. 

"We will continue to organize and mobilize students, faculty, staff, and alumni," Kind said.

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