“I never thought taking care of a park would be a dangerous thing” – Belkis Terán

Published by Brent Patterson on

Video: “We are horrified by all that has happened to Manuel. I never thought taking care of a park would be a dangerous thing.” – Belkis Terán speaking about the police killing of her child Manuel in the Weelaunee forest.

CBS News reports: “The family of Manuel Esteban Paez Teran joined attorneys and advocates at a press conference on Monday, February 6, demanding the Georgia Bureau of Investigation release details on its investigation into the officer-involved shooting death of Teran.”

The video of the full press conference can be seen here.

Teran, also known as Tortuguita, was killed by Atlanta police on January 18 while occupying the Weelaunee forest in opposition to Cop City. They were 26 years old.

The article adds: “The family’s attorneys said Teran, who was also known as Tortuguita and went by the pronouns they and them, was shot about 13 times with different guns, based on an independent autopsy.”

The Guardian further explains: “The activist, who went by the name Tortuguita, was one of dozens trying to protect the South River Forest from a $90m (£75m), 85-acre (34-hectare) police and fire department training center planned for the site and, separately, a private developer’s land swap. The project is known as Cop City. Officials said Tortuguita fired at a Georgia state patrol trooper first, wounding the officer.”

Many do not accept this narrative of Manuel firing on the police.

Manuel’s mother Belkis Terán has stated: “He was a pacifist. They say he shot a police officer. I do not believe it.”

David Peisner has also written in The Bitter Southerner that Manuel had said to him: “The right kind of resistance is peaceful, because that’s where we win. We’re not going to beat them at violence. They’re very, very good at violence. We’re not. We win through nonviolence. That’s really the only way we can win. We don’t want more people to die. We don’t want Atlanta to turn into a war zone.”

On February 8, the Atlanta Police Department released video footage of the aftermath of the shooting. Some of that footage can be seen here.

The Intercept reports that in that footage, an Atlanta Police Department officer can be heard saying: “You fucked your own officer up.” He later remarks: “They shoot their own man?” There is also a reference to “suppressed gunfire”, which implies the use of a police weapon.

But the Georgia Bureau of Investigation says: “Speculation is not evidence. Our investigation does not support that statement.”

PBS affiliate GPB adds: “[The Georgia Bureau of Investigation] said its ongoing investigation could take 60 to 90 days to complete.”

More than 1300 climate justice groups have called for an independent investigation.

We continue to follow this with concern.

On the day of the family’s press conference, this video and this video show a massive police operation at the forest. Truthout reports that in December and January, 19 opponents of Cop City were arrested for domestic terrorism, while the arrest warrants show this includes trespassing in the woods, camping or occupying a tree house.

Further reading: Organizations denounce police killing of forest defender Tortuguita in Georgia, USA (January 27, 2023)

Categories: News Updates


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