Prosecutors in Georgia have indicted 61 people on racketeering charges for their alleged parts in protests against a local police and firefighter training facility known as "Cop City."
The "Stop Cop City" movement stemmed from racial justice protests in the U.S. in 2020. Critics of the Atlanta-area 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Atlanta Mayor Andre Dickens says the $90 million facility is meant to replace outdated training sites and improve the government's ability to hire and retain first responders.
The "Stop Cop City" movement has occasionally involved vandalism and violence. Prosecutors allege participants are "militant anarchists."
Protests escalated after an activist, 26-year-old Manuel Esteban Paez Terán, was fatally shot. The Georgia Bureau of Investigation alleges that Georgia state patrol officers shot in self-defense after Terán shot at them.
There is no body camera footage of the incident.
In March, protesters overwhelmed the police presence at the training facility construction site and set fire to construction equipment.
Most of the people indicted were already facing charges for their alleged involvement in the movement. Some have 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 will have to prove that those charged were engaged in two or more related criminal acts to secure convictions.
The presiding judge in the case was originally Fulton County Superior Court Judge Scott McAfee, who is overseeing the RICO case against former President Donald Trump and his alleged co-conspirators. McAfee recused himself from the Cop City case because he had worked on the case before his appointment.
Fulton County Superior Court Judge Kimberly Esmond Adams will oversee the case instead.
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