Surveillance video released by APD shows multiple pieces of construction equipment on fire at the Atlanta public safety training facility. (File)

Sixty-one people have been charged with violating the state’s Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations (RICO) act in connection with protests of Atlanta’s public safety training center, dubbed “Cop City” by its opponents.

The Georgia Attorney General’s Office brought the charges against the protesters for blocking the construction of the training center, which is located on city-owned property in DeKalb County.

The bulk of the defendants named in the indictment were arrested on March 5 at the training center site, according to a report from the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

Twenty-three protestors were arrested at the site and charged with domestic terrorism after allegedly throwing rocks, bricks, Molotov cocktails, and fireworks at law enforcement. All 23 face one RICO count in the indictment.

Three people accused of handing out flyers in April identifying one of the troopers involved in the January shooting of activist Manuel Teran were also indicted. The flyers were distributed in Bartow County where the trooper who allegedly shot Teran is believed to reside.

Facing one count of domestic terrorism and one count of first-degree arson are Najda Geier of Nashville, TN; Madeleine Feola of Spokane, WA; Emily Murphy and Francis Carroll of Kennebunkport, ME; and Ivan Ferguson of Nevada.

Marlon Kautz and Adele Maclean of Atlanta and Savannah Patterson of Savannah are facing 15 counts of money laundering. The trio was arrested in May during a raid at 80 Mayson Avenue in the Edgewood community. The house, known as a base for “Defend the Atlanta Forest” activists opposed to the training center, was used to coordinate bail funds for arrested activists.

The names of all 61 indicted can be read in the court document below:

The Vote To Stop Cop City organization, which is collecting signatures to put the training center up for a public vote, issued the following statement:

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. 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. 

Further, the documents use the day George Floyd was murdered as the date the alleged criminal acts began. This is months before anyone was even aware of Cop City, and is a clear assault on the broader movement for racial justice and equity. Carr’s actions are a part of a retaliatory pattern of prosecutions against organizers nationwide that attack the right to protest and freedom of speech. 

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.

Notably, the indictment lumps in activists from the summer of 2020 during the height of the George Floyd and Rayshard Brooks protests.

Carr’s office said on July 5, 2020, activists attacked the Georgie Department of Public Safety headquarters in Grant Park by throwing rocks and hurling a Molotov cocktail through the window, resulting in the injury of two employees and the building catching fire.

The indictment alleges that the activists who damaged the DPS headquarters were part of the “threatening, violent anti-police sentiment” at the core of the “Cop City” protests.

Logan C. Ritchie writes features and covers Brookhaven for Rough Draft Atlanta.

Collin Kelley has been the editor of Atlanta Intown for two decades and has been a journalist and freelance writer for 35 years. He’s also an award-winning poet and novelist.