The shooting of Manuel Esteban Paez Terán, believed to be the first environmental defender killed in the US, is the culmination of a dangerous escalation in the criminalization and repression of those who seek to protect natural resources in America, campaigners have warned.
The death of the 26-year-old, who was also known as “Tortuguita” or “Little Turtle,” in a forest on the fringes of Atlanta was the sort of deadly act “people who have been paying attention to this issue assumed would happen soon, with no sense of joy”, according to Marla Marcum, founder of the Climate Disobedience Center, which supports climate protesters.
“The police and the state have a callousness towards the lives of those on the frontline of environmental causes and I hope this is a wake-up call to those who didn’t know that,” she said. “I hope people take the time to notice what’s going on, because if this trajectory of criminalization continues, no one is going to be safe.”
Terán was shot and killed by police as officers from an assortment of forces swept through the small camp of a loose-knit activist group defending the urban forest on 18 January. Police say Terán shot and injured a Georgia state trooper with a handgun first, but the Georgia bureau of investigation has said the shooting was not recorded on body cameras, prompting calls for an independent investigation. [Continue reading…]