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On January 18th, a Georgia State Patrol trooper was shot and wounded. The officer was part of a clearing operation at the site of a proposed police training facility that has been at the center of raucous and sometimes violent protests for several months.

Environmental and police abolition activists have been illegally occupying what is described as an “autonomous zone” to prevent construction of the law enforcement facility.

According to reports, troopers approached a tent inside the forest encampment. An individual allegedly then opened fire from inside the tent. The state trooper was wounded in the abdomen beneath his vest.

The perpetrator was identified as 26-year-old Manuel “Tortuguita” Teran, who was shot and killed when law enforcement returned fire. A “Rest in Power” flyer put out by activists following the shooting described Teran as an “indigenous anarchist,” “forest defender,” and “trained medic.”

A “forest defender” is a term used to describe an eco-activist who participates in illegal occupations to prevent forests from being cutdown. Techniques can include spiking trees (inserting metal spikes into trees which can injure loggers), erecting barricades, and building elaborate raised platforms within the trees to serve as literal human shields.

Teran’s status as a “trained medic” is interesting. As the Center has documented, medics can play a crucial “command and control” function within anarchist black bloc activities. Antifa medics have been known to carry firearms and other weapons, which allows the exploitation of common cultural assumptions about the role of medics as being unarmed for propaganda purposes.

In an interview conducted last month with BitterSoutherner.com, Teran was quoted at length describing the anarcho-communist ideology which governs a land defense direct action of this type, showing clear knowledge of anarchist organizing principles:

The community’s leaderless nature, its focus on direct action, as well as its anarchist and Marxist leanings, are, in part, an inheritance from the environmental activist group Earth First!

“Within the movement, there’s this constant struggle to avoid concentration of power, to disseminate decision-making,” a forest defender who goes by Tortuguita told me. “It’s harder to do anything because people are accustomed to following orders and having strict hierarchies. It gets tricky when you need to do something quickly, but everything kind of works out.”

The facility construction site, which activists have derisively named “Cop City,” has been the scene of repeated violence. The Georgia Bureau of Investigation charged several people with domestic terrorism for incidents which include throwing Molotov cocktails at police, stalking law enforcement, and construction contractors, rampant destruction of property, and explosives found at the encampment.

The Atlanta “forest defense” has become a cause célèbre among anarchist circles. In January an unidentified anarchist suspect torched a Bank of America building in Portland Oregon in retaliation for arrests made at the site. In a manifesto the perpetrator released on Anarchistfederation.com:

Bank of America funds the Atlanta Police Foundation and a thousand other projects of control. Earlier that day, the six friends in Atlanta charged with “domestic terrorism” were released from jail. May this fire bring them some warmth in winter. Long live anarchy!

Actions of this type, where anarchists conduct direct action sabotage or violence in “solidarity” with arrested, imprisoned, or deceased comrades are extremely common, and can sometimes result in a considerable escalation. As the Center has previously noted:

Local and Federal Law Enforcement should be prepared for the possibility of reprisals. After the death of Antifa member Charles Landeros -who was killed by police attempting to shoot a school resource officer- an improvised explosive device was left outside the Eugene, Or, police station but did not detonate. Individual officers should also take precautions as Antifa is known to utilize doxxing -the malicious spreading of personally identifying information- to target law enforcement, including federal law enforcement.

Anarchist sites and social media accounts have already begun memorializing Teran’s death, alleging he was murdered by police without cause. As a result, law enforcement should expect an increased likelihood of action by local anarchist networks in their area of operation, with targets likely to include law enforcement property and vehicles.

Kyle Shideler

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