Several dozen activists who opposed the construction of an Atlanta police and fire training complex known as "Cop City" have been indicted by a Georgia grand jury on charges of engaging in violence, intimidation and property destruction. The activists are accused of attempting to stall the project through criminal activities, including arson, domestic terrorism, and money laundering.
The Georgia Attorney General has been involved in the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organization Act (RICO) which are typically used against organized crime groups. Prosecutors have painted the opposition to the training facility called the Atlanta Public Safety Center as a criminal enterprise.
The indictment alleges instances where activists threw Molotov cocktails and fireworks at law enforcement officers, firefighters, and emergency workers. It also traces the campaign's origins back to the protests following George Floyd's death in May 2020 and contends that the movement has evolved into an "anti-government, anti-police, and anti-corporate extremist organization."
Critics have argued that the money spent on the $90 million project could be allocated elsewhere and that Cop City would lead to more militarized police force, exacerbating tensions with minority communities. The indictment has drawn criticism from civil liberties groups like the ACLU, who see it as an aggressive crackdown on protests and an overreach of state terrorism, racketeering, and money laundering laws.
“We are extremely concerned by this breathtakingly broad and unprecedented use of state terrorism, anti-racketeering and money laundering laws against protesters,” said Aamra Ahmad, senior staff attorney with American Civil Liberties Union’s National Security Project.
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