Georgia prosecutors, who have alleged that the “Stop Cop City” movement in Atlanta involves “militant anarchists,” indicted 61 people on racketeering charges. The charges stem from alleged parts of protests against a planned local police and firefighter training facility dubbed “Cop City,” Scripps News reports. The movement originated with racial justice protests in 2020. Critics of the training center worry it will contribute to the militarization of the police force. Atlanta Mayor Andre Dickens says the $90 million facility is meant to replace outdated training sites and improve the government's ability to hire and retain first responders.
Protests escalated after activist Manuel Esteban Paez Terán, 26, was fatally shot. The Georgia Bureau of Investigation alleges that Georgia state patrol officers shot in self-defense after Terán shot at them, but there is no body camera footage. In March, protesters overwhelmed the police presence at the training facility construction site and set fire to construction equipment. Some of the people indicted have already been charged with domestic terrorism, money laundering or felony intimidation. Under Georgia's RICO statutes, people who commit, attempt or coerce the commission of certain state crimes can be charged for racketeering activity. Prosecutors must prove that those charged were engaged in two or more related criminal acts to secure convictions. Fulton County Judge Kimberly Esmond Adams will oversee the case.