DeKalb District Attorney Sherry Boston.

DeKalb County District Attorney Sherry Boston said a “fundamental difference in prosecutorial philosophy” has led her to decide to withdraw her office from prosecuting arrests made in connection to Atlanta’s controversial public safety training center, commonly called “Cop City.”

Boston didn’t specify what philosophical difference she has with the other agencies her office has been working with to investigate and prosecute Cop City protesters, most notably with domestic terrorism, a crime that could send someone to prison for 30 years. Other agencies in the multi-jurisdictional task force include Georgia Attorney General Chris Carr, the Georgia Bureau of Investigation and Atlanta Police Department.

“My team and I have worked diligently to reach a consensus with the Attorney General’s Office on charging decisions in these cases,” Boston said in the release.  “At this point, I have decided it is best that we allow them to move forward with the charges they feel are warranted.”   

Boston, a Democrat, made the decision as Atlanta and Georgia face mounting scrutiny from elected officials, legal experts, and civil and human rights groups. They say charging protesters with domestic terrorism is intended to squash the far-reaching movement and chill free speech.

Boston’s said her office would address future arrests related to the training center “like any other in our jurisdiction.”

Many Republican leaders, including Gov. Brian Kemp, fully support the domestic terrorism charges. They say protesters accused of things like setting construction equipment on fire, vandalizing businesses connected to the project’s development, and throwing Molotov cocktails at police officers warrant the severe charge.

In response to Boston’s announcement, Carr said his office is “fully committed to moving forward with the prosecution of those who have engaged in or supported violent acts surrounding the Public Safety Training Center.”

“If you shoot police officers, throw Molotov cocktails at law enforcement, vandalize private homes and businesses, and set fire to police vehicles and offices, you will be held accountable,” Carr said. “We will not waver when it comes to keeping Georgians safe and putting a stop to violent crime in our state.”

In March, more than a dozen people were arrested and charged with domestic terrorism after Atlanta Police said they were part of a “coordinated attack” on the training center site. The incident occurred during a “Week of Action” by people who belong to autonomous movements and social media sites known as Stop Cop City and Defend the Atlanta Forest.

Another “Week of Action” in support of the Stop Cop City movement begins Saturday, June 24, with a kick-off rally at 11 a.m. at Brownwood Park in East Atlanta. Other events include marches, art builds and music shows in Atlanta and numerous other cities.

Dyana Bagby is a staff writer for Reporter Newspapers and Atlanta Intown.