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MEDIA ADVISORY: Atlanta healthcare professionals demand Emory professors resign from Atlanta Police Foundation board in open letter

UPDATE 02/09/2023: Claire Sterk, former president of Emory University and current professor, has stepped down from the board of the Atlanta Police Foundation following the release of this letter.


Defend the Atlanta Forest received this submission of an open, ongoing call from over 100 Atlanta area healthcare students & workers who are asking Emory University professors to cut ties with the Atlanta Police Foundation, the entity building the militarized Cop City project in south Atlanta. The letter echoes one published last week by Morehouse College faculty.

Sign & view Emory letter here (on Google Docs)

As a collective of Atlanta healthcare and public health students and professionals, we call for the immediate resignation of Dr. Claire Sterk, PhD and Dr. Douglas Murphy, MD from the Atlanta Police Foundation (APF) Board. As a well respected public health professional and former president of Emory University and as a pioneering cardiothoracic surgeon respectively, Dr. Sterk and Dr. Murphy’s continued affiliation with the APF brings an undeserved sense of legitimacy to the APF. Neither should risk tainting their legacy of service by openly supporting a self interested organization premised on the maintenance of stark inequality. The public health evidence strongly opposes the expansion of policing and its subsequent violence. Quite simply, the priorities of the APF are incompatible with the values of healing professions and our work of building stronger, healthier, more equitable communities together.

The APF remains a body that caters to the wealthy and well connected under the guise of public safety. With their most recent project proposal, Cop City, it is clear that the expansion of police power, despite negative consequences for many, remains their goal at any cost. The process has been entirely anti-democratic, ignored extensive evidence of the likely harm to both the climate and community, and disregarded the historical significance of building on the site of the Old Atlanta Prison Farm. No respect has been paid to the years of opposition from local residents, neighborhood associations, and dozens of community organizations. As healthcare workers we see the APF for what it is, a barrier to true systemic change. Their insistence on expanding the police footprint in Atlanta and making Atlanta an exporter of violence around the world comes at massive opportunity cost. Marginalized, disproportionately Black communities in Atlanta will continue to suffer from the decades of divestment and the APF is in turn content for the police to meet the symptoms of poverty and neglect with violence of their own. Cop City is environmental racism and structural violence manifest.

As opposition to Cop City continues to grow, the police have become increasingly violent in their attempts to repress dissent. Police have used toxic chemical irritants such as tear gas, rubber bullets and now live ammunition which recently resulted in the police killing of Manuel ‘Tortuguita’ Teran. In 2020, after the murder of George Floyd by police, we witnessed Atlanta institutions express support for change. Yet more than two years later, we continue to witness more victims of police violence both locally and around the country, including the murder of Tyre Nichols in Memphis. Instead of continued talks of reform, we reject the expansion of militarized policing and surveillance as solutions to our communities or patients’ needs. True public safety comes from well resourced and invested communities. This includes well funded and equitable education, safe and affordable housing, access to and affordable healthcare including mental health and substance use treatment, well paying and available jobs, and alternative responses to violence when these preventative measures don’t stop harm from occurring. The evidence is clear. The people have been clear. No Cop City. Not in the South River Forest. Not anywhere. What side of history will Emory and its representatives be on?

Sign Letter Here


Mark Spencer, MD

Michel Khoury, MD

Rita Valenti, RN

Janhavi Dubhashi, MPH

Caroline Idehen, MD Candidate

Suhaib Abaza, MD

Kieran Kristensen, MD

Vanessa Van Doren, MD

Anuj Dhir, MD

Kelsey Smith, MA, LPC

Kyle Torres, MD, MS

Subada Soti, MD

Eva Karam, PharmD

Ebtisam Alumin Osman, MD

Amy Zeidan, MD

Natalie David, MD Candidate

Sarah Samaranayake, MD Candidate
Alex Pressman, MD

Olivia Veira, MPH, MD Candidate

Catherine Yang, MD Candidate

Ogorchi Ujari, MD Candidate

Omid Nejad, MD

Ari Villanueva, MPH

Nicholas Ripper, MPH candidate

Ashleigh Hawk, MPH Candidate

Katie Cole, MD Candidate

Chino Amah-Mbah, MPH, LMSW

Tionne Pete MD Candidate

Nikhil Vettikattu, MD Candidate

Deanna Gill, MD

Charita Veerapaneni, MD Candidate

Nile Harris, MD

Onyie Eze, MD Candidate

Annie Davis, MPH Candidate

Alanna Aboulafia, MPH Candidate

India Stevenson, MPH1

Shayli Patel, MD Candidate

Manpreet Kaur, MPH

Kristin Harrington, PhD

Ruby Ladd, MD Candidate

Tamara Sumer

Mackenzie Bennett, MD/MPH Candidate

Fernanda Carlosama Ruiz, MPH Candidate

Cameron Dawkins, MPH Candidate

Priyumvada Naik, MD DipABLM

Samira Choudhury, MPH Candidate

Shira Concool, MA, LPC

Phillip Anjum, MD

Anjuli Shah, MD

Segun Adeagbo, MD Candidate

Cameron Blount, MD Candidate

Lizzy Manguso, MD/MPH candidate

Janice Bonsu MD MPH

Nora Loughry, MD

Kevin Rymut, MD

Virginia Horan PA-C

Ariana Traub, MPH, MD candidate

Ben Williams, MD candidate

Rekha Pagadala AAC

Lisa Baker, RN

Belinda McIntosh, MD

Olivia Haller, MA

Henry Kahn, MD
Chiamaka Onuigbo, MD 

Sarah Small, MPH

Natalie Connell, MD Candidate

Daniel Resnick, MD

Katie Jackson, MD Candidate

Kyle Megrath MA

Keziah M. Daniels, MD/MSCR Candidate

Paige Harmon, MD Candidate

Nell Mermin-Bunnell, MD Candidate

Kessie Olekanma MPH

Whitney Puetz MPH

Victoria Earl, MD

Miranda Perry, MPH

Eleanor Clarke, MPH, MD Candidate

Jasmine Gentry, MD

Lori Rush, LCSW

Nushrat Nur, MPH candidate

Parie Bhandari MPH Candidate

Conjay Dahn, MPH Candidate

Quasheba, MPH candidate

CJ Hutchison, MD Candidate

Aliza Makhani, MD Candidate

Wittika Chaplet, Undergrad of Emory College ‘23

Madeline Gordon, BA ‘24

H. Lee, class of 2023

Lilian, MD Candidate

Karimah Rokins MD Candidate 2025

Kennedy Watson, MD Candidate

Shakeria Stewart, MS, MD Candidate

Haben Debessai, MD

Katya Bobrek, MD candidate

Alyssa, MDP 23

Yailee Bangura, MD Candidate

Mackenzie Garcia, MD MPH

Hannah Kronick

Nicole Lue, MD Candidate

Sonya Green MMSc., PA-C
Michael Kramer PhD, MMSc

Ellison Langford, RN

Michele Shepherd-Tims, LPN

 Heather Hussey-Coker, BA 1999

Judith W. Smith, MD, former faculty

Maya Wergeles, MD/MSc Candidate

Kacie Isaacson, MD,MS

Ana BS

Solomon Kim, BA 2024

Patty Bergemann

Britney Young

Amritha Gourisankar, MPH, MD candidate

C. Leah Chan, MPH (RSPH Alumni)

Eduardo Flores, MPH, JD

Shreya Pokhrel, MPH Candidate

Jasmin Patel, MPH

Mattie Wolf, MD

Toyin Olagunju, MD Candidate

Jacob Hicks, MD Candidate

10 responses to “MEDIA ADVISORY: Atlanta healthcare professionals demand Emory professors resign from Atlanta Police Foundation board in open letter”

  1. Yes, important step to undermine support for the Atlanta Police Foundation. How to get mass support for leaving the forest intact.

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