(Creator: R.J. Rico/Captured by Associated Press)
In a blatantly fascist attempt to silence organizing efforts against the $90+ million police militarization and urban warfare facility, three members of the Atlanta Solidarity Funds were arrested and charged with “money laundering” and “charity fraud” on May 31st. The trumped up charges carry penalties of up to 20 years in prison, and up to $500,000 in fines. Officers raided the bail funds’ offices and seized cell phones, laptops and documents.
It is the latest in a series of vicious assaults by cops and right-wing extremist politicians against abolitionist, environmentalist organizers in Atlanta and throughout the country. The ultimate goal of attacks like these are a grotesque attempt to criminalize solidarity.
“This is the first bail fund to be attacked in this way,” Regan, who works for an organization providing legal support for people resisting Cop City, told The Intercept in an interview. “And there is absolutely not a scintilla of fact or evidence that anything illegal has ever transpired with regard to Atlanta fundraising for bail support.”
“What happened this morning is a terrifying escalation by the state, and a chillingly direct attack on the First Amendment. This is fascist political repression,” Hannah Riley, an Atlanta-based organizer, also told The Intercept.
Georgia Governor, Brian Kemp, released a direct threat yesterday morning on Twitter at 11:18am CT attempting to intimidate organizers across the country,
“Today’s announcement is a reminder that we will track down every member of a criminal organization, from violent foot soldiers to their uncaring leaders. We will not rest until they are arrested, tried and face punishment.”Governor Brian Kemp (@GovKemp) via Twitter
Defender’s Major Key: Brian Kemp has had a longstanding history of backing police. Kemp dedicated $100M to “strengthening public safety and reinforcing law enforcement” in August 2022.
Nevermind that the cash bail set for these organizers is a mockery of what is supposed to be otherwise deemed a “check and balance” by the State, this is unjust––and this is a direct attack on abolitionists.
“Bailing out protestors who exercise their constitutionally protected rights is simply not a crime. In fact, it is a historically grounded tradition in the very same social and political movements that the city of Atlanta prides itself on,” said Regan in a press statement.
The Atlanta Community Press Collective wrote on Twitter that “Collective bail funds have existed since the dawn of the civil rights movement. When Dr. King was held in Birmingham Jail, churches and community groups including the NAACP came together to fund his $4000 bail – the equivalent of $39,000 today.”
To date, 42 members of the Stop Cop City movement face domestic terror charges. In late January, the cops’ relentless campaign took a tragic turn when 26-year-old Manuel “Tortuguita” Terán was shot over a dozen times despite having their hands up, during a multi-agency police raid. Their death marked a horrifying escalation in the state’s crackdown against the Abolitionist movement, and anyone who opposes the brutal violence of policing.
These horrific actions, enacted from local cops to top-level politicians, encroach on the principles of free speech, freedom of assembly, and the right to legal counsel, support and education.
“These arrests send a message that if you run a nonprofit that they find to be at odds with their colonial project, they will target you,” a person associated with the fund told The Intercept.
Politicians and cops have become disillusioned with their role in the current landscape of the United States––time and time again enforcing pseudo-laws that are draconian and extremist. What is harmful about aiding jailed comrades from a classist, carceral system? The true harm here is locking away, and even murdering, human beings––oft Black and brown––as if these ‘problems’ will disappear. These ‘problems’ will not disappear.
Governor Kemp’s statement is a target placed on local organizing efforts, and we need to raise our national collective voice against attempts to break support of mutual aid and decarceration.
We denounce this authoritarian attack by the governments of Atlanta and State of Georgia in silencing decarceral movements across the nation.
We staunchly oppose the arrests of Marlon Scott Kautz, Savannah D. Patterson and Adele Mclean of the Atlanta Solidarity Fund. Dually, we oppose all domestic terrorism charges brought against protestors of Cop City. All should be released immediately, WITH their records expunged.
For Kansas Citians, this moment calls for urgent solidarity, as our own city government is currently ramping up its incarceration efforts. Our City Council just recently approved the construction of a new jail under the guise of a “mental health and rehabilitation services facility,” sponsored by our own Mayor Quinton Lucas. We must not forget that the fight in Atlanta is a fight in Kansas City. And is a fight in Ferguson. And in Minneapolis. And in Louisville.
We cannot allow our local government to fuel the national, damned fires of policing, state-sanctioned violence and incarceration as “political beliefs” any longer.
Change begins now.
For those looking to take immediate action for our Atlanta comrades:
- Sign on to the solidarity statement; and
- Call on Atlanta Mayor Andre Dickens and the Atlanta City Council to cancel the lease for the police training facility.
- Put pressure on investors in the project to divest from Cop City.
- Sign the Petition Demanding corporations divest from Cop City.
For those looking to take immediate action in Kansas City:
- Join Decarcerate KC in their fight “to raise awareness, build power, and create change around issues of incarceration and policing in Kansas City.”
- City Council recently passed an amendment calling for research and proposed alternatives to new city jails––Decarcerate KC will be providing more information on how to get involved soon.
- Subscribe to The Kansas City Defender for more local abolitionist coverage, and chances to organize in our Community Programs division (invite-only, to protect our Black members).