61 ‘Cop City’ Rioters Arraigned Monday Morning

Dozens of protesters were arraigned Monday on Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (RICO) charges related to vandalism at the site of the new Public Safety Training Center. The state has characterized this group as “anarchists.” The group, self-described as “activists,” take the position that they are doing no more than “exercising their First Amendment rights.” The indictment was handed down by Attorney General Chris Carr in September.

The indictment is voluminous, comprising 109 pages. The indictment accuses the 61 defendants, who identify as “members of Defend the Atlanta Forest,” of multiple violent acts from 2020 to early this year. As reported, “Some of the defendants are also facing charges of domestic terrorism and attempted arson.” Carr also accuses the Network of Strong Communities of pretending to be a charitable group and money laundering.

Four of the sixty-one people failed to show up at the arraignment. Bench warrants have  been issued for some of those that failed to appear at the arraignment. “The other 58 who appeared in court waived arraignment and the judge said final plea hearings will happen sometime in May or June 2024.” So much information and evidence are required in the prosecution of the cases that attorneys for the defendants have asked for “that much time because of the need to go through 5 terabytes of data related to the case.”

Several self-described activists “gathered outside the courthouse in Fulton County before the arraignment to show their support for those being indicted.” See related story: 61 people indicted on RICO charges connected to ‘Stop Cop City’ protests. As reported, only 13 of the 61 defendants are from Georgia. “The pushback on the Public Training Center, which is referred to as Cop City by the activists, has turned violent at times.”

Background information on the police training center discloses that the Atlanta City Council approved the training center in 2021. The government asserted that the new facility, described as a “state-of-the-art campus,” would replace substandard offerings and would have the added alleged benefit of boosting police morale. Videos Arraignments planned for ‘Cop City’ activists and Arraignment underway for Cop City protesters can be seen here. Unexplained is why all people in the courtroom were wearing Covid-type masks.

D & B Staff

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Episode 203