Mother of ‘Stop Cop City’ Activist Slain by Atlanta Police Brings Healing Message to Mid-November Protest

Interview with Belkis Terán, mother of Slain "Stop Cop City" activist Manuel “Tortuguita” Terán, conducted by Melinda Tuhus

Over the long Veterans Day weekend, hundreds of opponents of the construction of a $90 million militarized police training facility in Atlanta came to the city to train for a nonviolent day of action called Block Cop City. The police facility is being jointly funded by the City of Atlanta and the Atlanta Police Foundation, which is made up of major corporations that have their headquarters or a significant presence in the city, like Home Depot, Amazon, UPS, Wells Fargo and JP Morgan Chase.

Protest organizers planned to march non-violently to the Weelaunee Forest, the site of the proposed facility, which is also the site of an occupation that lasted more than a year where opponents camped in the woods to stop the project. On Jan. 18, one of the forest defenders – Manuel Terán, known as Tortuguita, was killed during a raid by police, who claimed he shot first. Terán’s official autopsy showed he had no gunpowder residue on his hands, meaning he hadn’t shot a gun, and the family’s autopsy found he was sitting in his tent with his hands up when he was shot 57 times.

During the mid-November protest, activists attempted to enter the forest and plant trees, symbolically replacing those cut down for the project, police released tear gas to turn them away. At the protest, Between The Lines’ Melinda Tuhus spoke with Belkis Terán, Tortuguita’s mother, who lives in Panama but came to Atlanta to join the Block Cop City protests. Here she talks about her son, the online healing center she established to honor him and her hopes for stopping the Cop City project.

BELKIS TERÁN: Manuel was called Tortuguita by the Muscogee tribe, because there was a warrior called Tortuguita. He was not very much pleased with that name because he said, “He was a warrior and I am a peaceful person.” So, he was very peaceful. He wanted to do everything on peace. He was a very charismatic and magnetic person. Where he was, there was a lot of energy, caring and loving to everyone around. Yes, it was very unfortunate, his loss, but he left a legacy, which I am now promoting in my interactive healing center on Instagram around all these people, that I like them to grow in the way that they can give good example to this society. That’s what we want.

MELINDA TUHUS: So, the family had an autopsy done and after that the official autopsy was released that had been delayed for a long time, and it showed that he had no gunpowder residue on his hands, which kind of contradicts the official story that he shot at police first, and then they shot him.

So, what’s happening on the legal front? What’s happening with the family’s lawsuit and what are you seeking? What are you trying to get?

BELKIS TERÁN: Well, we are trying to get the truth and I don’t think he shot anybody. But they can say anything and build any lies around his image, but I don’t believe. Simple as that, I don’t believe. So, we are trying to get the truth if it’s possible, our lawyers are suing them. I really don’t have any clarity about each step, because I don’t want to get involved in the legal proceedings, you know? But I know they are very confident and they are trying to do their best.

MELINDA TUHUS: You’re here now, you said you’re on a tourist visa, you’re back in Atlanta. There was a march today, a nonviolent march to go back into the forest and actually to plant trees. We just learned that it’s over and they’re safe and they were not arrested. I’m not sure that’s true of everyone, but what is your role here this week?

BELKIS TERÁN: Well, I’m a pacifier, a pacifist, you know? I like to heal everybody, I like to give my oils to everybody, relax them, because there is a lot of excitement, you know, it can be good or it can be bad, because when you confront dark energy like they have – like all of us have – can engage.

So, my role as a mother and as a healer is to avoid that, that they are in a good spirit, that they keep calm. I work with all of them in private as much as I can, giving them my oil, giving them my advice, I connect with Earth. Because for me, this is not a war, this is a transition point. We are going from this energy to a better energy, because everything is vibration. I believe that.

I believe in Jesus and there is no contradiction on the vibration things with what Jesus says in the bible or the bible says in general; I don’t see any difference; it’s the same, because the energy we are talking about is love. Love energy, and you have to love your neighbor as yourself.

So, in that thinking we are doing all this: I love you, you love me, we care for each other; I care for you, that you are not engaging in negative attitudes and you are loving me and that I’m safe. So, I’m very happy with today. Today, for me, was a win, even though they didn’t reach their goal. There is no goal, really, here. This idea that you want to plant things [in the forest], but you can plant anywhere. So the point is to make the government and the system to understand that we are here and we are going to change the system.

For more information, follow Belkis Terán’s online healing center on Istagram @BelkisTeran27, Block Cop City Protest Action at, or

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