Over 60 protesters have been indicted on RICO charges for their efforts to block construction of the massive police training facility known as “Cop City” outside of Atlanta, Georgia.
The indictment out of Fulton County court last Tuesday charges 61 protesters with violating Georgia’s Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act. Many are facing additional charges of domestic terrorism or money laundering. The indictment was handed up by the same grand jury that handed up the indictments against Donald Trump and his co-defendants, according to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, and is being prosecuted by Georgia Republican Attorney General Chris Carr.
Over the past year and a half, Georgia police have made dozens of arrests at the proposed site for Cop City, with charges ranging from alleged property damage and trespassing to domestic terrorism.
In May, Atlanta police arrested the organizers of the Atlanta Solidarity Fund, a bail fund for the protesters of Cop City. One of the fund’s organizers who was arrested, Marlon Kautz, had predicted in February that the state would level RICO charges at the protesters.
“We understand that this movement is as broad as society itself. It includes environmental activists, community groups, faith leaders, abolitionists, students, artists, and people from all over,” Kautz said in February.
“But police, prosecutors, and even Governor Kemp have been trying to suggest in the media and in court that the opposition to Cop City is actually the work of a criminal organization whose members conspire to commit acts of terrorism. In essence, they’re trying to concoct a RICO-like story about the movement.”
Kautz along with fellow Atlanta Solidarity Fund organizers Adele Maclean and Savannah Patterson are listed in the RICO indictment, and are also facing an additional 15 counts of money laundering.
The date listed on the indictments is May 25, 2020, the day George Floyd was murdered by police officer Derek Chauvin in Minneapolis. Although this date predates any Stop Cop City protesting, it’s possible that the Attorney General’s office plans to link the Stop Cop City movement with the larger protests that followed Floyd’s death.
The Cop City Vote coalition, an Atlanta-based campaign leading a referendum to halt the construction of the police facility, released a statement condemning the indictment.
“Today, Republican Attorney General Chris Carr, who used his platform to recruit for the January 6 insurrection, announced blatantly authoritarian RICO charges against 61 people,” the statement said. “These charges, like the previous repressive prosecutions by the State of Georgia, seek to intimidate protestors, legal observers, and bail funds alike, and send the chilling message that any dissent to Cop City will be punished with the full power and violence of the government.”
In June, Atlanta District Attorney Sherry Boston announced that her office would withdraw from criminal cases tied to the Cop City Protests the state’s Republican Attorney General had leveled at protesters. Boston cited the domestic terrorism charges specifically and said that she and Attorney General Chris Carr had “fundamentally different prosecution philosophies.”