Sep 5, 2023 - News

Grand jury indicts 61 "Stop Cop City" activists

Photo: Cheney Orr/Getty Images

An Atlanta-area grand jury indicted 61 people on racketeering and domestic terrorism charges for their alleged roles in the movement to block Atlanta's planned Public Safety Training Center.

Why it matters: The charges in Fulton County Superior Court are the most serious and wide-ranging legal challenges against the Defend the Atlanta Forest movement.

  • This coincides with activists' attempts to mount a campaign that aims to force a referendum on the future of the police and fire academies, which they derisively call "Cop City."

Driving the news: The 109-page indictment follows charges filed in May against three Atlanta residents who operate the Atlanta Solidarity Fund, a charity fund that pays bail and provides legal defense to protesters.

  • The defendants include "more than three dozen people already charged with domestic terrorism in connection with violent protests," the Associated Press reported.

Details: In the indictment, Georgia Attorney General Chris Carr called the movement an "anarchist, anti-police and environmental activism organization," accusing the activists of violating the state's racketeering laws in their effort to stop the construction of the 85-acre facility.

Zoom in: Prosecutors allege that the Atlanta Solidarity Fund supported the movement by reimbursing activists for the purchase of food, camping equipment, climbing gear and other items to occupy the forest.

  • Defendants allegedly threw Molotov cocktails at police officers and committed acts of vandalism in Georgia and other states to intimidate contractors and training center supporters, according to prosecutors.

What they're saying: A spokesperson for a coalition collecting signatures who aim to put the training center on the ballot said the charges "send the chilling message that any dissent to Cop City will be punished with the full power and violence of the government."

Flashback: In February, activists with the Atlanta Solidarity Fund said in a statement that they'd been informed that a Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (RICO) was potentially in the works.

The big picture: Fulton Superior Court is no stranger to Georgia's RICO Act, which critics say has been overused by prosecutors.

Of note: The case has two ties to the Trump case.

  • The grand jury involved in the indictment is the same one that recommended charges against Trump and associates, the AJC reports.
  • The judge originally assigned to the case is also overseeing Trump's case. However, he's since recused himself because of ties to the AG's office.
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