In a new, exclusive piece, the Guardian covered the recently released PESP report “PE Profits from Destroying the Atlanta Forest.” The Guardian investigation focused on the two PE firms highlighted in the report—Roark Capital and Silver Lake Management—and demonstrated the “web of connections” they have to the Atlanta Police Department, the Atlanta Police Foundation, and Cop City.
The Guardian March 22, 2023: Investment fund links to Atlanta police and ‘Cop City’ project revealed
“We’ve shown that private equity does have its hands in the controversy that is unfolding around Atlanta and its police force. Knowing the relationships Roark Capital and Silver Lake Management have with Cop City, [the Atlanta police department] and APF will give activists another tool to demand accountability for the recent violence and the destruction of the Georgia environment,” Amanda Mendoza, PESP researcher and co-author of the report, told the Guardian.
Amanda also added, “When it comes to policing, which already faces severe accountability and transparency issues, private equity involvement adds an additional layer of opaqueness. This report is just scratching the surface in investigating how private equity has contributed to not only moving these dangerous projects forward but also supporting a devolving situation of violence in the city.”
The PESP report “PE Profits from Destroying the Atlanta Forest,” details the ways private equity capital has been utilized to fund projects that aim to demolish large swaths of the Atlanta forest. Private equity faces limited disclosure requirements around the details and activities of their investment funds. This lack of transparency has shielded PE firms from public view and scrutiny as they profit off the destruction of the forest and increased policing and violence in Atlanta.
Private equity firm Roark Capital owns Inspire Brands, which is a large, corporate backer of the Atlanta Police Foundation (APF). As of February 2023, Roark claims $33 billion in assets under management. Inspire Brands generated $30 billion in sales in 2021. Inspire Brands also has multiple relationships with the APF. Inspire’s CEO Paul Brown sits on the Atlanta Police Foundation Board of Trustees, and Marshall Freeman, who served as COO of APF for seven years, is a board member of the Inspire Brands Foundation.
The new report also calls attention to PE firm Silver Lake Management. The firm has a more than $1 billion investment in Motorola Solutions, which has sold more than $22 million worth of products and services to the Atlanta Police Department (APD) since 2016. Another Silver Lake investment, Shadowbox Studios, is encroaching on Atlanta’s forest. The media company had plans to expand studio space by 1,000,000 square feet on a large swath of vital Atlanta green space.
Private equity’s relationship to the destruction of Atlanta’s forests are just another example of the industry’s involvement in the extraction, and ultimately destruction of, natural resources for the sake of quick profits. Along with other climate-harming projects such as the Coastal GasLink pipeline and Dakota Access Pipeline, Cop City and Blackhall Studios stand as continuing examples of dangerous initiatives that force local communities to protect their native lands and resources.
See the full report HERE.