President Thomas Says He Supports an Atlanta Police Training Facility at Presidential Forum With Mayor Dickens

Photo by Andy Harris


By: Auzzy Byrdsell and Bennie Williams


On Feb. 7 during the Presidential Forum, Morehouse president David A. Thomas publicly voiced his support for a police training facility such as the Atlanta Public Safety Training Center, also known as ‘Cop City’ alongside Atlanta Mayor Andre Dickens, Atlanta City Council, and law enforcement representatives. They joined Atlanta University Center students gathered in the Morehouse Ray Charles Performing Arts Center (RAYPAC) to voice their concerns. 


Those in attendance witnessed President Thomas publicly confirm his stance regarding a training center. 


President Thomas answered, “I’ll be very clear; I believe that Atlanta does need a new public safety training facility.” 


“That is not a Morehouse stance; that is my own personal stance,” President Thomas said.


Morehouse administration and board of trustees have a neutral stance on Cop City despite the students’ and faculty’s prominent, vocal stance against the center on social media, in petitions, and the forum. 


The forum was held after the events that took place on campus surrounding Cop City. On Jan. 31, a teach-in was held on the murder of Tyre Nichols and Cop City, where students came together to voice their concerns and thoughts. Later that week, at Crown Forum, students protested to call on the Morehouse community to join the ‘stop Cop City’ efforts.


Among their demands was that President Thomas dissent, as a board member of the Atlanta Committee for Progress, against the creation of Cop City.


Later that day, members of the Morehouse faculty signed an open letter denouncing Cop City. As of today, 52 faculty members have signed off on the letter. 


Dr. Taura Taylor, an assistant professor of sociology, signed the open letter. At the forum, she told The Maroon Tiger, “I am personally against Cop City. I also want to support my students, and I think while we’re here at Morehouse; we have a responsibility to cultivate the spirit of social justice in the students.” 


She added, “I think it is important for us as faculty to remind them that we are not just here to teach students, but we are here to stand beside them.”


President Thomas’s opening statements regarded the agenda for the forum. It was followed by passionate remarks from Daxton Pettus ‘25 and a political science professor, Dr. Andrew Douglas. The forum included a presentation on the proposed construction of the training center. It ended with an opportunity for students to ask questions to Mayor Dickens and President Thomas.


The live Q&A portion was intended to be 5 minutes, however, students demanded more time. Students could also submit questions online, but less than 10 of those questions were chosen out of hundreds.  


As the doors opened, students, faculty, alumni, and other members of the Atlanta University Center community filled the seats of the forum. Many students awaited and discussed their predictions on whether President Thomas would shift the college’s stance or his personal stance. After the entrance was closed, some protested outside with signs demanding to be let in after the entrance was locked. 


Keon Rosado, ‘24, told The Maroon Tiger before the forum, “I don’t expect to hear a lot. I’m really doubtful that he is going to adhere to the demands of the students.” Rosado added, “However, I hope that he does.” 


The student’s frustration stemmed from the alleged claim that Morehouse College (and other schools in the AUC) would be funding Cop City. The AUC community grew concerned about their safety and the lack of resources surrounding their campuses.


Safety and security incidents have been top of mind at both Spelman and Morehouse Colleges. In the last few months, Perdue Hall, Otis Moss Jr. Suites (both Morehouse dormitories), and Morehouse James Hall (a Speman dormitory) all reported intruders or stolen property from students’ rooms. 


This intensified concerns about the quality of campus security and safety. They raised questions and concerns regarding AUC and city council representatives’ duty to assist its citizens instead of law enforcement. 


“Whatever support you give the community shouldn’t matter if you support a system that hurts our community,” Pettus says.  


According to reports from 11Alive and  CNN, there is no evidence that the colleges would fund the production of the center. 


Nonetheless, the students still demand that President Thomas publicly state his stance on the matter.  


“What Morehouse cannot do in our spiritual duty to the Black community is step over our own community,” says Trey Causey, a senior philosophy major. “If we step over our own community we have reached spiritual death,” he says.


The students asked a variety of questions for hours ranging from environmental impacts, proof of Cop City’s efficiency, potential city impacts, and more. 


Their energy overwhelmed the room and oftentimes interrupted the cohesion of the forum. 


“You’re a coon and a liar!” yelled a young woman to Mayor Dickens as she stormed out of RAYPAC.


The forum lasted two hours longer than it was scheduled to run. 


Clark Atlanta University and Spelman College have not held public forums regarding Cop City. However, according to their Instagram, Spelman National Action Network drafted a letter to call on their administration to formally denounce the building of Cop City on Feb. 12.