Detroiters demand: ‘Stop Cop City!’

March 21, 2023

From the March-April 2023 issue of News & Letters

Detroit—On Feb. 24 several dozen protesters marched in downtown Detroit chanting: “Stop Cop City!” “I am…a revolutionary!”

The march followed a rally with members from the Michigan Environmental Justice Coalition (MEJC), Michigan Liberation, Detroit Will Breathe, Black to the Land, and Detroit Leadership and Environmental Education Program (D-LEEP). It was in solidarity with protesters in the Atlanta area against “Cop City,” 85 acres of forest where a fake city is planned that would destroy the forest to build a military training facility for cops. Friday’s demonstration was called as a vigil for Manuel Paez Teran, also known as “Tortuguita,” the activist killed by cops in Georgia. (See “Police murder of Tyre Nichols puts U.S. civilization on trial yet again,” p. 1.)


Protesters oppose a similar situation in Michigan—the expansion of Camp Grayling. Camp Grayling is a military training facility in the north of the state, 162,000 acres of state-owned land across several counties. It would more than double its current training grounds, according to Bridge Michigan.

Gabriela Alcazar of MEJC stated: “Environmental justice is an intersectional struggle…we work with folks on all kinds of different social justice issues.” Christiana Beckley, an activist from Southwest Detroit, said that is what prompted the individual organizations to become one: Detroit by Atlanta Stop Cop City Solidarity Coalition.

Bridge Detroit quoted Rai LaNier of Michigan Liberation, who said police and military technologies and partnerships have hurt Black and Indigenous people worldwide. “The fight in Atlanta…is directly related to our fight against police surveillance projects like ShotSpotter and Project Greenlight. Things that were supposed to protect us and defend us.” Instead, LaNier continued, the city is “wasting our money…” Christiana Beckley, an activist from Southwest Detroit, said, “[T]he idea of having cops and military taking over forests and funding, like funneling tons of money into that when we don’t have affordable schools or health care or food or housing for anybody, is just something that I think is atrocious, so that’s why I’m here.”


Detroiters are well acquainted with the militarization of parks and the connection between environmental injustice and police. Detroit police have used Rouge Park as a training ground for decades. Directly across the street from homes, the police use the site daily for shooting practice. They’ve deployed bombs and tear gas in the park during training exercises.

“Those same tools of militarized police impact us here in Detroit, just as they do in Atlanta,” said Antonio Cosme, an education coordinator with the National Wildlife Federation, and leader with Black to the Land Coalition in Detroit. Like Tortuguita, Cosme has Latino ancestry, and has had his fair share of dealings with the police and environmental injustice in Detroit. Last year he took part in a sacred Indigenous ceremony at Rouge Park held to start the maple syrup tapping season. It was broken up by 12 police officers and a helicopter.

Cosme said, “We’re trying to kick the Detroit Police out of Rouge Park. We’ll be accountable to the community and we won’t be firing during community events and kids camping…”

—Susan Van Gelder

One thought on “Detroiters demand: ‘Stop Cop City!’

  1. Cops are using a city park for shooting practice when they have shooting galleries of their own? They’re putting our children and others at risk!

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