EXCLUSIVE: GA Attorney General on what’s next for ‘Cop City’

41 demonstrators tied to movement face domestic terrorism charges
Since December, now 41 people tied to the movement against the building of the public safety training center have been charged with domestic terrorism, accordin
Published: Mar. 7, 2023 at 5:01 PM EST
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ATLANTA, Ga. (Atlanta News First) - – On Tuesday, Georgia Attorney General Chris Carr sat down for his first local interview since 23 demonstrators were arrested and charged with domestic terrorism in connection to vandalism Sunday evening at Atlanta’s planned public safety training center.

According to Atlanta Police, a group of violent agitators used the cover of a peaceful protest before leading a “coordinated attack” on construction equipment and police officers.

Since December, now 41 people tied to the movement against the building of the public safety training center have been charged with domestic terrorism, according to Carr.

“Forty-one individuals have been charged with domestic terrorism,” said Carr, in an interview Tuesday morning with Atlanta News First. “Our office is taking the lead working with the DeKalb County District Attorney’s Office to prosecute those cases, which we will. But we know this is a big case, it’s a complex case.”

The 23 people arrested on Sunday come from 15 different states as well as France and Canada, according to Atlanta Police.

These 23 are set to make their first appearance before a DeKalb County judge on Tuesday afternoon.

Carr said there is no timetable on when these cases could go before a judge for a ruling.

Outside of their first appearance arraignments, Carr said no subsequent hearings have been scheduled for the 18 prior activists charged with domestic terrorism.

On Monday, Congresswoman Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-GA-14th District) characterized these activists as members of Antifa, a left-wing anti-fascism organization.

“Enough is enough and here in Atlanta, this has been going on for months and months. Where they have been attacking the site of a future Atlanta police training facility. And we need that in Atlanta,” Congresswoman Greene said in an interview on Fox News. “We’re fed up with it, so I’m introducing my resolution tomorrow [Tuesday] to declare antifa domestic terrorists,” Greene said.

Carr, on Tuesday, stopped short of connecting those arrested with a specific group like Antifa but said they are national in nature.

“This is a well-organized national group. There is no doubt about it. Again, at the appropriate time we will present evidence about the group,” said Carr.

On Monday, a spokesperson for the Southern Poverty Law Center confirmed that one of the individuals arrested was acting as a legal observer when they were arrested and subsequently charged with domestic terrorism.

“An employee at the SPLC was arrested while acting — and identifying — as a legal observer on behalf of the National Lawyers Guild (NLG). The employee is an experienced legal observer, and their arrest is not evidence of any crime, but of heavy-handed law enforcement intervention against protesters,” said a spokesperson for the Southern Poverty Law Center.

On Tuesday, Carr was asked if he would drop the domestic terrorism charge for this legal observer.

“Everybody will have their day in court,” said Carr, who said the SPLC had not directly reached out to his office about dropping these charges.

Carr continued to stress that he supports peaceful forms of protesting.

“Protesters use words, rioters use violence. The first is protected by the first amendment. The second is criminal acts, and we will go after and hold accountable those who are engaging in criminal acts,” said Carr.

Demonstrators against the public safety training center have schedule a “Week of Action” in Atlanta that runs from March 4- March 11.

On Monday, Governor Brian Kemp told Atlanta News First he hopes that prosecutors and judges go “hard” against those charged with domestic terrorism.

“It’s my hope that the prosecutors, and us, go after them very hard. I believe that we will. But it’s time for the judicial system also to go after these individuals very hard and that’s what I think we need to see happen in this case,” Kemp said Monday.

In 2017, following Dylann Roof’s mass shooting at a Black church in South Carolina, the Georgia General Assembly passed a law that defined ‘domestic terrorism’ and expanded the authority to the Attorney General to prosecute the charge.

“That’s what the people of Georgia have said. If you come to this state, engage in acts of violence to destroy infrastructure, property with the intended effect of changing public policy, it is a domestic terrorism charge,” said Carr on Tuesday.

A conviction of domestic terrorism could land a defendant in prison for up to 35 years.