Georgia Strikes Back With 61 RICO Indictments

Georgia Attorney General Chris Carr announced on September 5 that a grand jury had returned 61 indictments against members of the “Stop Cop City” movement on Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations (RICO) charges. Carr is employing the same legal mechanism used by Fulton County District Attorney Fanni Willis to bring charges against former President Donald Trump and 18 associates.

All of the individuals indicted Tuesday previously faced charges in the state stemming from instances of intimidation and domestic terrorism. The group, known as “Defend the Atlanta Forest,” has occupied the planned home of a sprawling police and firefighter training center off and on since 2021.

The group rose to national prominence in January after an officer-involved shooting left a 26-year-old activist dead. Law enforcement claims that during an operation to remove protestors from the site, an officer was shot and injured. Police returned fire, hitting the suspect 57 times.

The indictment lists 225 instances in which the indicted individuals are said to have worked together to commit crimes and acts of violence. This includes a July 5, 2020 incident in which activists threw rocks at police vehicles and lobbed a Molotov cocktail through a window of the Department of Public Safety offices resulting in injuries and significant fire damage.

Numerous instances in which protestors started fires to damage and destroy construction equipment are included in the indictment. Organizers of the “Night of Rage” protest in January 2023 are members of the group of indicted individuals and face charges for arson, property damage, and breaking and entering.

The “Night of Rage” organizers are listed by name in a press release from the Office of the Attorney General. Nadja Geier of Nashville, Tenn., Madeleine Feola of Oberlin, Ohio, Emily Murphy of Berkley, Mich., Francis Carroll of Kennebunkport, Maine, and Ivan Ferguson of Henderson, Nevada all face domestic terrorism charges for their role in the violence during the protest.

“As this indictment shows, looking the other way when violence occurs is not an option in Georgia,” Carr wrote in a press release. “We will not waver when it comes to keeping people safe, enforcing the rule of law, and ensuring those who engage in criminal activity are vigorously pursued and aggressively prosecuted.”

According to the Attorney General’s office, the investigation into the “Stop Cop City” protesters was carried out by the Georgia State Bureau of Investigations, the Atlanta Police Department, and the Federal Bureau of Investigations.

The protestors are attempting to derail a planned $90 million, 85-acre training center that would feature a shooting range, an amphitheater, and a mock city for training exercises. The site is the former location of the Old Atlanta Prison Farm.