Stop Cop City activists facing a new wave of repression
Atlanta, GA – 61 Stop Cop City activists are being indicted on Georgia RICO charges by the state’s attorney general’s office.
The Georgia RICO (Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations) Act is similar to the federal RICO Act, but the Georgia Act makes it easier to charge people. The indictment is dated August 29 and the charges became known to the public September 5.
The indictment groups the activists together in what the state is calling an “enterprise” engaged in racketeering activity aimed at preventing Cop City from being built. The indictment names Defend the Atlanta Forest as the group accused of violating the RICO act, even though not all people charged belong to that group. The racketeering activity alleged by the state ranges from throwing molotov cocktails at construction equipment to transferring money in amounts as low as $15.
Cop City is an urban warfare police training facility which will cost $90 million and take up 85 acres of the forest. Construction of Cop City began in spring of this year.
The indictment date begins on May 25, 2020, the day George Floyd was murdered by the police in Minneapolis, and a year before the plan to build Cop City was even publicized. 23 of those facing RICO charges were arrested and charged with domestic terrorism during a music festival in the forest on March 5, 2023. Five others in the indictment were arrested during a protest following the murder of Manuel “Tortuguita” Teran in January of 2023, and are also facing arson and domestic terrorism charges. The indictment also includes the Atlanta Solidarity Fund 3, whose house was raided in May 2023, and face 15 additional charges of money laundering. Three others facing RICO charges were arrested and placed in solitary confinement in April 2023 for posting flyers about one of the cops involved in the murder of Tortuguita.
Cop City Vote Coalition, a group working towards getting Cop City on the ballot, released a statement condemning the RICO indictment: “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.”
The statement continues: “The Cop City Vote coalition strongly condemns these anti-democratic charges. We will not be intimidated by power-hungry strongmen, whether in City Hall or the Attorney General’s office. Chris Carr may try to use his prosecutors and power to build his gubernatorial campaign and silence free speech, but his threats will not silence our commitment to standing up for our future, our community, and our city.”
Along with the Cop City Vote Coalition, other groups involved in the struggle around stopping Cop City have also condemned this act of repression and vowed to continue the fight against Cop City and political repression. With cases of repression such as the Tampa 5 in Florida and the FBI confronting reproductive rights organizers in Minnesota, the state is showing its fear of the power of the people to make change. The movement will not be silenced as the many outweigh the few and the people are demanding that the city stops Cop City. Now is the time to fight back, not retreat.