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Deceleration: ‘Viva Viva Tortuguita!’ Atlanta Mayor Chased Out of SXSW Conference

Posted in Austin, Journalism, and SXSW

I just published my first byline at Deceleration, an online environmental news journal based out of San Antonio, about a protest yesterday at the SXSW festival:

On Monday, a group of protesters at a conference in Texas challenged  the mayor of Atlanta over the city’s ongoing plans to build a massive  training center for police and other law enforcement agencies,  eventually forcing Andre Dickens to leave the event entirely.

The direct action took place at South by Southwest (SXSW),  an annual conference, film, and music festival in Austin, Texas, at a  ballroom of the downtown Hilton hotel (one of several sites where the  conference occurs). The panel discussion was intended to be about conflict between city and state governments. Instead the audience received a very different lesson in civic engagement, as the Austin chapter of the Weelaunee Defense Society, an activist group devoted to the national “Stop Cop City” movement, would soon dramatically change the agenda.

In addition to Dickens, other panel guests included Cincinnati mayor  Aftab Pureval and Tishaura Jones, mayor of St. Louis. Christian Menefee,  the progressive county attorney from Harris County, acted as the  panel’s moderator. After introducing himself and the other panelists, Menefee asked the mayors to discuss some of the challenges they have to navigate in working with sometimes hostile governors. But the protesters  began their action just as Dickens began to speak, standing up one by  one to interrupt him with demands that he halt the construction of Cop  City, or to chant or just make noise. One accused Dickens of murdering  Manuel Esteban Paez Terán, also known as Tortuguita, an environmental activist shot 57 times and killed by Georgia State Troopers during protests against Cop City.

“I’m a murderer?” Dickens could be heard exclaiming, seemingly taken aback by the sudden reference to the killing.

Read more at Deceleration.News.