ATLANTA — On April 19, 2023, the DeKalb County Medical Examiner released information about the autopsy conducted on Tortuguita, (they/them), a queer and nonbinary Indigenous Venezuelan of Tomoto-Cuica descent. Tortuguita was killed by law enforcement in January 2023 in the South River Forest during a "clearing operation" to remove protestors from the property, which the city of Atlanta plans to use to build a massive public safety training facility.
In response, Sierra Club Georgia Chapter Interim Director Gina Webber issued the following statement:
"Tortuguita's autopsy reveals they were shot 57 times, and their death has officially been ruled a homicide. The Sierra Club Georgia Chapter continues our call for an independent investigation and condemns state-sanctioned violence against the movement in defense of the forest. We call on elected officials and our fellow organizations to find the courage to demand an independent investigation in Tortuguita’s death and seek justice that their family, friends and the community deserves.
"State sanctioned violence, shutting out community members from decision-making processes, criminalization of protest, and continued political intimidation toward local leaders must no longer be tolerated. We cannot fight the climate crisis without dismantling systems of white supremacy. We must invest in communities, not further militarize the police that perpetuates violence on communities of color.
"Cop City must never be built. Mayor Dickens and the Atlanta City Council must cancel the lease for this project and protect the forest. Lastly, our thoughts and our hearts are with Tortuguita’s family and friends as they continue to grieve. You can donate to their family here."