Dozens Indicted on RICO Charges Over 'Cop City'

Protesters don't want a police and firefighter training facility in the Atlanta area
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Sep 6, 2023 9:15 AM CDT
'Cop City' Protesters Hit With RICO Charges
Protestors react before council members voted 11-4 to approve legislation to fund the Atlanta Public Safety Training Center on June 6 in Atlanta.   (Jason Getz/Atlanta Journal-Constitution via AP, File)

Sixty-one people have been indicted in Georgia on racketeering charges following a state investigation into protests against a planned police and firefighter training facility in the Atlanta area that critics call "Cop City." In the sweeping indictment released Tuesday, Republican Attorney General Chris Carr alleged the defendants are "militant anarchists" who supported a violent movement that prosecutors trace to the widespread 2020 racial justice protests, per the AP. The "Stop Cop City" effort has gone on for more than two years and at times veered into vandalism and violence. Opponents fear the 85-acre, $90 million facility will lead to greater militarization of the police, and that its construction in an urban forest will exacerbate environmental damage in a poor, majority-Black area.

Most of those indicted have already been charged over their alleged involvement in the movement. Charges under the state's anti-racketeering law, also known as a RICO law, carry a heavy potential sentence that can be added on top of the penalty for the underlying acts. Among the defendants: more than three dozen people already facing domestic terrorism charges in connection to violent protests; three leaders of a bail fund previously accused of money laundering; and three activists previously charged with felony intimidation after authorities said they distributed flyers calling a state trooper a "murderer" for his involvement in the fatal shooting of a protester.

"The 61 defendants together have conspired to prevent the construction of the Atlanta Public Safety Training Center by conducting, coordinating, and organizing acts of violence, intimidation, and property destruction," Carr said during a news conference Tuesday. In linking the defendants to the alleged conspiracy, prosecutors have made a huge series of allegations. Those include everything from possessing fire accelerant and throwing Molotov cocktails at police officers, to being reimbursed for glue and food for activists who spent months camping in the woods near the construction site. Activists leading an ongoing referendum effort against the project immediately condemned the charges, calling them "anti-democratic." More from the AP here. (More Georgia stories.)

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