This is an abridged version of an open letter circulated to Emory University in November 2023. The letter references a student-led protest in spring 2023 against the Atlanta Public Safety Training Center, dubbed “Cop City” by its critics. The editors condensed the letter from its original format and updated it with more specific language. You can find the original letter posted here.

Shortly after 1 a.m. on April 25, 2023, Emory administrators called police to terminate a student protest on the Quadrangle. The students were demonstrating against Cop City, and holding a vigil for the activist Manuel Esteban Paez Terán (Tortuguita), who had been shot and killed by Georgia state troopers in January 2023. The protest was entirely peaceful, nonviolent, and nondestructive. By 1 a.m., the students had dwindled to a group of 15 to 20, some asleep for the night. They were confronted and threatened with arrest by at least 12 armed officers from both the Emory Police Department and the Atlanta Police Department. 

Why did our administrators call the police? We have waited nine months and heard no justification, only questionable conduct complaints: pitching tents on the Quad isn’t permitted, camping on the Quad impedes university operations; the students didn’t tell administrators they were planning to stay overnight […]. None of these complaints identify an actual threat, much less an emergency that might warrant police involvement according to Emory’s Respect for Open Expression Policy. Moreover, the message conveyed is that it is up to administrators to define “acceptable” protest — for example, how long it may last and who must be informed — and that police are there to be deployed when protestors don’t comply. Such assumptions are antithetical to Emory’s commitment to open expression and Atlanta’s tradition of direct nonviolent action. 

[…] Our administrators’ decision brought an outsized force of armed officers to campus at night, into contact with students whose views and positionalities made them especially vulnerable. Moreover, Emory’s educational mission has also been harmed. Intentionally or not, administrators have shown students that it is wrong and dangerous to persist in dissent, that Atlanta police are available to enforce obedience on campus and that conflicts can be successfully resolved with a show of brute force. […]

We have watched in alarm as the state of Georgia escalates its criminalization of constitutionally protected protest via RICO and domestic terrorism charges. Do our administrators also condemn this antidemocratic treatment of protestors? If so, this is their opportunity to defend democratic rights on our campus, encourage open dialogue and commit to refraining from calling the police on peaceful and nonviolent protestors in the future. 

We call on our administrators to acknowledge the harm their actions have done and begin rebuilding trust. 



Ruth Allen, PhD, Curator of Greek and Roman Art, Michael C Carlos Museum

Jody Bailey, Head of Scholarly Communications Office and Associate Librarian, Emory Libraries

Emmie Banks, Neuroscience PhD Candidate

Samuel  Bartlett, Emory College of Arts and Sciences, 2026

Evan Bazel, Class of 2025

Jeremy Bell, Faculty, Department of Philosophy

William Boose, Emory faculty, Doctoral Candidate, Department of Anthropology

Patricia Brennan, Samuel Candler Dobbs Professor, Psychology

Paul Buchholz, Associate Professor, Department or German Studies

Eric Bulakites, Assistant Teaching Professor, Department of French and Italian

Joyce Burkhalter Flueckiger, Emerit Professor, Department of Religion

Patricia Cahill, Associate Professor of English

Camille, Emory Undergraduate Student

Mia Carvalho Guimaraes, Alum, MPH, Rollins School of Public Health, 2023

Jhanel Chew, Emory faculty, PhD Student in Environmental Health Sciences at Rollins School of Public Health

Lisa Chung, Doctoral Student, Department of Epidemiology, Rollins School of Public Health

Makalee Cooper, Ox ‘23, C ‘25

Yaling Covey, ECAS Class of 2024

Leroy Davis, Associate Professor, Emeritus, African American Studies/History

Sarah Delfino, Environmental Science, ECAS, 2023

Jareka Dellenbaugh-Dempsey, Emory student, Graduate Student, English Department

Srija Dutta, Public Health Program Associate, RSPH Alum

Sarah Febres-Cordero, Emory faculty, Assistant Professor, Nell Hodgson Woodruff School of Nursing

Jennifer Feldman, Associate Teaching Professor, Spanish and Portuguese

Fiona Ferguson, 26C

Nicholas Fesette, Assistant Professor of Theater, Oxford College

Amir Hussain, Alum, Laney Graduate School, 2022

Noah Jaffe, Emory student, PhD Candidate, Chemistry, LGS 2024, ECAS 2019

Henry Kahn, Emeritus Professor, Family & Preventive Medicine, School of MedicineSchool of Med

Andrew, Kaplan, Graduate Student, Comparative Literature, 2025

Carolyn Keogh, Asst. Teaching Professor, Department of Environmental Sciences

Kim, ECAS, Class of 2024

Nava Klopper, WGS & CPLT, 2025C

Ross Knecht, Associate Professor, English Department

Michael Kramer, Associate Professor, Epidemiology, Rollins School of Public Health

Kieran Kristensen, Emory staff, MD PGY-2, Emory School Of Medicine

Daniel LaChance, Associate Professor, History, ECAS

Lee, Class of 2023

Joel Lerner, Emory student, RSPH Environmental Health, 20Ox 22C 24PH

Martin Li, BA Philosophy, NBB, ECAS, 2024

Roxani Eleni Margariti, Associate Professor, MESAS

Stu Marvel, Assistant Professor, Department of Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies

Hiram Maxim, Professor of German Studies and Linguistics

Noëlle McAfee, Professor and Chair, Department of Philosophy

Sara McClintock, Associate Professor of Religion

David Meer, Department of Physics 3rd year graduate student

Sean Meighoo, Associate Professor of Comparative Literature

Judith A. Miller, Associate Professor, Department of History, Emory College

Alex Minovici, Emory student, 23Ox 25C

Andrew Mitchell, Faculty, Philosophy

Simona Muratore, Faculty, French and Italian Department

David Nichols, Emory student, Ph.D. Candidate, Spanish and Portuguese Dept, LGS, 2024

David Nugent, Anthropology Department

Koluchi Odiegwu, Emory college Class of 2024

Natalie Olson, PhD student, GDEH, RSPH

Darby Osborne, ECAS 26

Marjorie Pak, Associate Teaching Professor, Program in Linguistics

Oren Panovka, Emory student

Rebecca Parker, PhD Candidate, Cancer Biology, Laney Graduate School

Snigdha Peddireddy, PhD student; Department of Behavioral, Social, and Health Education Sciences; Rollins School of Public Health; 2026 (expected)

Kimmai Phan, Emory student, Graduate student researcher, BME, Laney Grad School, 2025

Jaanaki Radhakrishnan, Class of 2026

Amanda Rivera, Starbucks Workers United

Candis Rivera, Concerned citizen

Ian Rein, Emory College ’25

Walter Rucker, Faculty, African American Studies

Bee Saracco, class of 2025

Agnes Sastre-Rivera, Graduate Candidate, Comparative Literature, Emory University

Tarangini Saxena, Emory alum, MDP 17 Laney

Madison Schwab, Emory student, PhD Student; Population Biology, Ecology, and Evolution; Laney Graduate School; PhD ‘28

Tracy Scott, Associate Teaching Professor, Department of Sociology

Pamela Scully, Samuel Candler Dobbs Professor of WGGS & African  Studies

Maria Franca Sibau, Associate Professor, REALC

Mark Spencer, Assistant Professor of Medicine, Emory University

Susan Tamasi, Teaching Professor, Program in Linguistics, & Alum (94C)

Lisa Thompson, Professor, Nursing

Cameron Thurber, Emory alum G18

Donald N. Tuten, Faculty, Spanish and Portuguese / Linguistics

Frank Voigt, DAAD-Lecturer, Department of German Studies, Emory College

Jaron Wade, Concerned citizen

Peter W. Wakefield, Teaching Professor, Institute for the Liberal Arts, Emory College

John Wegner, ENVS Assistant Teaching Faculty

Kaylin White, Emory student, PhD Student, Epidemiology Department, RSPH

Michelle Wright, Faculty, English

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