‘Stop Cop City’ protesters rally in support of RICO defendants

Published: Nov. 6, 2023 at 5:52 PM EST
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ATLANTA, Ga. (Atlanta News First) - On Monday, nearly one hundred activists against the building of the public safety training center rallied outside the Fulton County Courthouse.

“This is an attack to try to create fear among people, so we will not speak against injustice. We will not let that happen. We will not stop fighting. We will not let ‘Cop City’ be built in the city of Atlanta,” said another protestor.

Demonstrators were standing in solidarity with the 61 defendants facing a judge in an arraignment hearing inside the courthouse.

“This is my 21st year practicing law and this is the first I’ve every seen a case of this size,” said Joshua Schiffer, who is representing one of the co-defendants.

The judge saw 57 of the 61 defendants in groups of five at-a-time.

The 61 defendants are facing RICO charges for allegedly violating the state’s Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act.

“I think that is going to be the most challenging part for the state, to show that all these people that were at different events, some of them were at a concert, some were at a protest downtown, what did they have to do with each other,” said defense attorney Suri Chadah Jimenez.

Georgia Attorney General Chris Carr and the AG’s Office is the lead prosecuting agency representing the state.

“We contend the 61 defendants together have conspired the construction of the Atlanta Public Safety Training Center by conducting, coordinating, and organizing acts of violence, intimidation, and property destruction,” said AG Carr, in a press briefing in early September in announcing these indictments.

On Monday, AG Carr wrote on social media, “Protestors use words. Violence is not “speech” and will not be tolerated in Georgia,” said Carr on X, formerly Twitter.

On Monday, dozens of protesters took to the streets demanding charges be dropped.

READ: 61 RICO defendants arraigned Monday over public safety center protests

Supporters are calling the charges a violation of First Amendment rights.

“It’s ridiculous that people are peacefully protesting and being arrested and charged for exercising their constitutional right,” said Cotie San.

Organizers say future demonstrations are in the works as the case makes its way through the justice system.

The attorney for one defendant, 19-year-old Ayla Elegia King has filed a motion for a speedy trial.

No date has been set, but her attorney, Suri Chadah Jimenez, told Atlanta News First, it’s likely to start before the end of the year.

“We’re going to trial probably within the next few weeks so we need to get ready a lot sooner,” said Jimenez, who said his client stands by her innocence.

For those not seeking a speedy trial, Judge Kimberly M. Esmond Adams set a final plea hearing date would be no later than June 2024.