ATLANTA (AP) — Sixty-one people have been indicted in Georgia on racketeering charges following a long-running state investigation into protests against a proposed police and training facility in the Atlanta area that critics call “Cop City.”
The sweeping indictment was brought by Republican Attorney General Chris Carr. Prosecutors allege the defendants are “militant anarchists” who have supported a violent movement that prosecutors trace to the widespread 2020 racial justice protests. The protests erupted in the wake of the May 2020 police murder of George Floyd in Minneapolis and the June 2020 police killing of Rayshard Brooks in Atlanta. Those events preceded the public announcement of the proposed training center by months.
The “Stop Cop City” effort has gone on for more than two years and at times has veered into vandalism and violence. Opponents say they fear the Atlanta-area training center will lead to greater militarization of the police and that its construction will exacerbate environmental damage in a poor, majority-Black area. The Aug. 29 indictment under the state’s racketeering law was released by Fulton County officials on Tuesday.
The majority of those indicted were already facing charges stemming from their alleged involvement in the movement. They include more than three dozen people facing domestic terrorism charges in connection to violent protests, three leaders of a bail fund who have been accused of money laundering and three activists who were charged with felony intimidation after authorities said they distributed flyers calling a state trooper a “murderer” for his involvement in the fatal shooting of an environmental protester in the woods.
In linking the defendants to the alleged conspiracy, prosecutors have made a huge series of allegations — everything from possessing fire accelerant and throwing Molotov cocktails at police officers to being reimbursed for glue and food for the 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.”