On Wednesday, a heavy-duty police truck, flanked by hordes of riot police, descended upon a house in Atlanta to conduct an arrest raid.
Were the police arresting a cadre of heavily armed bandits? A bunker where a mass shooter had holed up? No. The police were detaining three individuals who had been helping organize bail funds and legal defense for the Cop City protesters that Atlanta police injudiciously arrested on the grounds of crimes like having muddy shoes.
The Georgia Bureau of Investigation, alongside the Atlanta Police Department, arrested Marlon Scott Kautz, Savannah Patterson, and Adele Maclean on charges of “money laundering” and “charity fraud.” The trio are organizers with the Atlanta Solidarity Fund, which has been at the forefront of providing legal support and bail assistance to the at least 42 people who have been entrapped by massively high bonds from the courts and face bewildering criminal charges for exercising their right to assemble or protest.
There has been no public evidence thus far of any mishandling of the funds raised to support arrested protesters.
The harrowing display of fascism is just the latest chapter of an ongoing struggle by waves of people to protest the construction of a gargantuan police training facility—known as “Cop City”—that would raze the Weelaunee Forest in Atlanta.
Governor Brian Kemp celebrated the arrests Wednesday as part of a crackdown on “mostly out-of-state activists” (the trio are all from Atlanta) and “domestic terrorism.” In simpler terms, Kemp is celebrating the police state’s arrest of people who have labored to provide legal support for people facing undue charges by that police state. If FascismforDummies.com needs a more modern example, there you go.
One of the arrested organizers, Kautz, had predicted the forthcoming possibility of Racketeering Influenced and Corrupt Organization, or RICO, charges.
“We understand that this movement is as broad as society itself. It includes environmental activists, community groups, faith leaders, abolitionists, students, artists, and people from all over,” Kautz said back in February. “But police, prosecutors, and even Governor Kemp have been trying to suggest in the media and in court that the opposition to Cop City is actually the work of a criminal organization whose members conspire to commit acts of terrorism. In essence, they’re trying to concoct a RICO-like story about the movement.”
The state escalation against its people comes after revelations confirming that the police unprovokedly murdered a protester and forest defender, Manuel Esteban Paez Terán. Police shot Terán, also known as “Tortuguita,” at least 57 times. What may have been warning bells for more sane actors seemed only to be a rallying call for Georgia’s authorities. As TNR has written previously:
While the police continue to prove why they warrant more scrutiny and less leeway, their behavior has yet to change; it is unclear how much more damage they will need to cause to inspire enough change to stop them from causing such damage at all.