61 individuals in Georgia have been indicted on racketeering charges, with Republican Attorney General Chris Carr labeling them as “militant anarchists.” The indictment, released on August 29, comes after a protracted and at times contentious battle over the construction of a police and firefighter training facility in the Atlanta area, referred to by critics as “Cop City.”
The “Stop Cop City” movement has spanned more than two years, with occasional instances of vandalism and violence. Critics have voiced concerns about the potential militarization of the police force and environmental damage in a predominantly Black, economically disadvantaged community where the training facility is slated to be built.
This latest application of the state’s anti-racketeering law, commonly known as a RICO law, follows closely on the heels of the Fulton County prosecutor’s utilization of the statute to charge former President Donald Trump and 18 others just weeks ago.
Among the 61 defendants are over three dozen individuals already facing domestic terrorism charges related to violent protests, three leaders of a bail fund previously accused of money laundering, and three activists charged with felony intimidation after distributing flyers that referred to a state trooper as a “murderer” due to his involvement in the fatal shooting of a protester.
Attorney General Chris Carr, speaking at a news conference on Tuesday, asserted, “The 61 defendants together have conspired to prevent the construction of the Atlanta Public Safety Training Center by conducting, coordinating, and organizing acts of violence, intimidation, and property destruction.”
It’s important to note that RICO charges carry a substantial potential sentence, which can be added to penalties for the underlying acts. This indictment marks a significant development in the ongoing debate surrounding “Cop City” and the broader issues of police militarization and racial justice protests that have gripped the nation since 2020.