The Cambridge City Council voted to receive reports on lawsuits involving Cambridge police that incurred expenses for the city and heard public comments in favor of a policy order opposing Atlanta’s “Cop City” during a meeting Monday evening.
The Council narrowly voted to pass a policy order 5-4 that would request City Manager Yi-An Huang ’05 to work with the Cambridge Police and Law departments to report to the Council all outstanding and recent lawsuits that involve CPD or its individual members on which the city is spending or has spent resources.
The report will include information about lawsuits occurring within the last five fiscal years — from 2019 to 2023 — and the estimated amount spent per lawsuit.
In a 3-6 vote, the Council also voted against changes to proposed amendments to the Affordable Housing Overlay. Councilors Dennis J. Carlone, Patricia M. “Patty” Nolan ’80, and Paul F. Toner voted yes.
More than 50 individuals signed up to speak during the public comment section of the meeting, with many sharing opposing opinions on the amendments, which would increase building story limits for affordable housing developers.
Several individuals also voiced their support on a policy order stating the Council will oppose the CPD and the city government collaborating with, sending trainees to, or supporting the Atlanta Public Safety Training Center — also known as “Cop City.”
Currently under construction, the Atlanta Public Safety Training Center will serve as an urban space for police and firefighter trainees. Protesters across the nation oppose the center, arguing it will militarize the police and damage the surrounding environment as it is being built in the South River Forest area.
Earlier this month, 61 people were charged in Georgia with racketeering charges for their alleged participation in the protests, with the state condemning them in its indictment as “militant anarchists.”
Dozens rallied in Harvard Square in March to protest the facility’s construction as part of a national day of solidarity with the protesters.
Phoebe G. Barr ’23-24, a senior at the College, talked about her experience protesting against the “construction of cop city” in Atlanta during the past summer.
“The aggressive police presence I found there was deeply troubling to me, and many of my Black and brown peers have even more reason to be troubled,” she said. “Police here who are trained in Cop City would make me and many of my peers feel less safe.”
Evan C. MacKay ’19, president of the Harvard Graduate Students Union-United Automobile Workers, supported the policy order and mentioned “repeated instances of police intimidation, harassment, and retaliation against UAW members and organizers.”
“This Cop City will never not be associated with the destruction of the world we live in,” they said. “Cambridge will not be complicit, and we must lead with our values of justice, transparency, and accountability, and the recognition of the interconnectedness of climate justice and racial justice beyond borders.”
In addition, the Council received updates from Huang on the city’s LGBTQ+ housing task force.
Huang also provided further information about donations from Harvard and MIT toward the Cambridge Promise Pilot program, which will support between 20 and 30 Bunker Hill Community College students by covering their tuition costs, mandatory fees, and school-related expenses not covered by Pell Grants and outside scholarships. The pilot is a test run for a program that city officials hope can offer free community college to all Cambridge residents.
—Staff writer Jina H. Choe can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.