Jul 31, 2023 - Politics

Atlanta to appeal "Stop Cop City" referendum ruling

Illustration of a silhouetted scales of justice, with the plates moving up and down.

Illustration: Brendan Lynch/Axios

The legal fight over the push for a referendum on Atlanta's public safety training center is not over. The city says it plans to appeal last week's ruling that gave activists more time to collect petition signatures.

Driving the news: In a notice filed in federal court Friday, the city asked the judge to delay implementation until a decision is made on an appeal it expects to formally file soon.

Catch up quick: The judge's ruling extended the original deadline of Aug. 19 to Sept. 25 for plaintiffs to collect the 70,000 Atlanta resident signatures needed to force a referendum on the project.

What they're saying: Attorneys for the city argue in the motion that the referendum petition process, which activists had challenged, is determined by state law.

  • The court’s ruling, they write, "implies a degree of punishment to the city for its compliance with state law."
  • It basically amounts to "compensation" for the plaintiffs, "rewarding them with an additional 35 days of [signature] collection," they argued.

The other side: Brian Spears, the attorney for the plaintiffs who filed the original lawsuit, said the city is "attempting to prevent city voters from having their voices heard."

  • "Our clients are disappointed by the city’s actions and remain confident that their First Amendment rights will be protected," he said.

The bottom line: Activists can keep collecting signatures, but for how long remains a question that will be decided in court.

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