Cop City Protestors Face RICO Charges, 61 Indicted

As expected, residents opposing the construction of a new Atlanta Police and Fire Department training facility, better known as Cop City are working vigorously to block funding for the project and kill the development altogether.

But while they are have been hard at work, zealously fighting to stop Cop City, 61 people have been indicted on racketeering, aka RICO, charges following a state investigation into protests against the project.

Republican Attorney General Chris Carr, who referred to the defendants as “militant activists,” may have over reached though with RICO charges, which is apparently gaining momentum in the state, as Fulton County prosecutor Fani Willis leveled RICO charges against former President Donald Trump and his 18 co-defendants. She also charged several suspected members of YSL with similar charges.

Opponents fear the training center will lead to greater militarization of the police, and that its construction in an urban forest will exacerbate environmental damage in a poor, majority-Black area.

Among the defendants in violent  more than three dozen people already facing domestic terrorism charges in connection to violent protests; three leaders of a bail fund previously accused of money laundering; and three activists previously charged with felony intimidation after authorities said they distributed flyers calling a state trooper a “murderer” for his involvement in the fatal shooting of a protester.


“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,” Carr said during a news conference Tuesday.

In linking the defendants to the alleged conspiracy, prosecutors have made a huge series of allegations. Those include everything from possessing fire accelerant and throwing Molotov cocktails at police officers, to being reimbursed for glue and food for activists who spent months camping in the woods near the construction site.

Opponents of the planned police training center are concerned that it will facilitate police militarization and that its location is a threat to the environment and disadvantaged Black people in nearby communities.

The proposed building site is also the site where a young protestor was shot and killed by a Georgia State Trooper. Manuel Esteban Paez Terán, also known as Tortuguita, was a Venezuelan environmental activist and eco-anarchist who was shot and killed by a Georgia State Patrol trooper after an officer was wounded in the leg during a raid of the Stop Cop City encampment on January 18, 2023. However on April 20, 2023 a Dekalb County medical examiner revealed that Teran was shot 57 times  with wounds in his head, torso, hands and legs.  

Opponents, of the project are also actively involved in getting the project on the ballot and force a voter referendum on stopping the project. Litigants in the case claim that Atlanta City Clerk Vanessa Waldron is thwarting their efforts to take the issue to the people by getting the petition going against the highly controversial project. 
In early June, after a nearly 14½ hour long session against a backdrop of hundreds of protestors, Atlanta City Council members voted 11 to 4 to fund the highly controversial Cop City in Atlanta. Opponents of the training facility say they are concerned that the state of the art police training facility will militarize police and result in more police brutality and police slayings of Black and Brown residents. 
Other detractors of the project say the true costs of the training facility will likely double, in terms of construction costs and human tragedy. Hundreds of Atlanta residents gathered at Atlanta City Hall to speak against legislation that would authorize an additional $33.5 million in public funding, bringing total funding to $90 million for the proposed Atlanta Police Department training compound which will be built in unincorporated Dekalb County. The project has reportedly exceeded its original budget due to loss of private funders and increased expenses related to the widespread public opposition to the project. 
Cop City developers expect to break ground possibly as early as August of this year.

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