Vox Populi:

Organizers working to end police violence refuse to be intimidated by growing efforts to criminalize free speech.

Since Sept. 5, 2023, 61 people in Atlanta have been charged with racketeering for protesting in connection with the Stop Cop City movement. Attorney General Chris Carr of Georgia is using the state’s Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (RICO) to develop a model for prosecutor offices around the country to repress organizing against police violence. Georgia has expanded its domestic terrorism law to increase the number of offenses that people can be held for, while at the same time eliminating public bail funds that bail poor people and activists out of jail. The aim is to criminalize movements and chill dissent, particularly uprisings centered around stopping police violence.

The RICO indictment itself states that the “criminal activity” didn’t begin when we started organizing against Cop City in the spring of 2021, but instead a full year before, on May 25, 2020, when a Minneapolis police officer murdered George Floyd. For the State, a “criminal enterprise” was born when people poured into the streets demanding justice, abolition, defunding, and alternatives to police interactions with the public. While masses of people were inspired—during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic—to protest the ongoing police murders of Black people, the state of Georgia instead determined this collective exercise of free speech a criminal act.

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