GSU student and professor explain why they oppose the Atlanta Public SafetyTraining Center

A banner hanging near the site occupied by opponents to the construction of a planned $90 million public safety training center, dubbed "Cop City" by opponents. Police arrested eight protestors at the site on Tuesday. (Rebecca Etter/WABE)

Dr. Makungu M. Akinyela, an associate professor in the Africana Studies Department at Georgia State University, says more than 50 staff and faculty members have signed an open letter calling for GSU to divest in the Atlanta Public Safety Training Center.

The controversial project, described as “Cop City” by opponents, has been the focus of surging debates and growing protests in recent months.

Professor Akinyela and Niana Battle, a junior at Georgia State University majoring in public policy, were guests on Wednesday’s edition of “Closer Look,” the same day that the South River Forest and Public Safety Training Center Community Task Force held its first meeting to gather feedback about the proposed $90 million, 85-acre facility.

“The meetings aren’t open to the public,” said Battle. “I haven’t been asked by anybody on the task force or any of my peers that attend Georgia State. I haven’t seen any surveys or any outreach to the people who will be affected by the building of this training facility, so for now, I just really think it’s a performative way to keep us quiet.”

During the conversation, Akinyela and Battle spoke about why they oppose the training center and support investment in programs that support the well-being of students and Atlanta residents.