Georgia’s attorney general has obtained indictments against more than 60 people, alleging violations of the state’s Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations (RICO) law over ongoing efforts to halt construction of Atlanta’s planned $90 million police training center, known by many as “Cop City.” Some are also facing additional charges of domestic terrorism and money laundering.
“We are extremely concerned by this breathtakingly broad and unprecedented use of state terrorism, anti-racketeering, and money laundering laws against protesters,” said Aamra Ahmad, senior staff attorney with ACLU’s National Security Project. “Georgia law enforcement officials are disproportionately wielding these overbroad laws to stigmatize and target those who disagree with the government.”
Since late 2021, protesters under the banners of “Stop Cop City” and “Protect the Weelaunee Forest” have raised concerns over climate justice, displacement of Black communities, and increasing militarization of police forces. Protesters have camped out in the forest, staged marches, and hosted community events. At times, a small minority of protesters have allegedly damaged property.
“Democracy requires dissent and our state’s officials should not be exposing individuals to potentially decades in prison for engaging in protests,” said Christopher Bruce, policy and advocacy director at ACLU of Georgia.