Candlelight Vigil for Manuel “Tortuguita” Teran, Atlanta Forest Defender Killed in Raid
For the second time this year, the Eugene community came together for a candlelight vigil following the killing of yet another individual by law enforcement — this time in Atlanta, Georgia.
On Jan. 20, the Eugene community stood in solidarity with other cities nationwide to honor the life of Manuel “Tortuguita” Teran, an Atlanta Forest Defender who was shot on Jan. 18 during a multi-agency push to clear the Weelaunee Forest site dubbed “Cop City” for a proposed $90 million training facility.
Law enforcement say that a state trooper was wounded by gunfire, however, there are conflicting reports regarding the circumstances.
In an audio recorded statement that was submitted to Democracy Now!, an activist with the Atlanta Forest Defenders, with their voice electronically altered, recounted the events that led to Tortuguita’s death.
They said that multiple law enforcement departments arrived at the Weelaunee Forest site, blocked access to the area from both the roads and bicycle trails and, at 9:04 a.m., “about a dozen shots fired in rapid succession” were heard.
Additionally, the forest defenders who had stayed in the trees were further targeted with what were described as “pepper bullets” — most likely PepperBalls.
“One tree sitter had their treehouse, which stored food and water, cut from beneath them. They were left without food and water for over 12 hours up in the tree as police waited at the base of the tree to capture them,” the activist said in the recording. “This same tree sitter continued to stay in their tree until the next morning, when they were arrested.”
Other forest defenders were reportedly forced to “hide and flee” from chasing police canines.
About Tortuguita, they were said to be a “radiant, joyful, beloved community member” who “fought tirelessly to honor and protect the sacred land of the Weelaunee Forest.”