Cop City protesters hit with RICO charges: justice served or a chilling overreach?

Fulton County's sweeping charges against dozens of activists could set a dangerous precedent for future protests

Protesters with signs marching against the Atlanta Public Safety Training Center
People protest the Atlanta Public Safety Training Center
(Image credit: Illustrated / Shutterstock)

It's been a busy summer for members of Georgia's highest-profile grand jury. Under the direction of Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis, jurors tasked with investigating former President Donald Trump's alleged election interference delivered a historic slate of indictments against Trump and a host of his accused co-conspirators, including Rudy Giuliani, Mark Meadows and Ken Chesebro. Just weeks later, state Attorney General Chris Carr announced that those same jurors had served up an entirely separate set of charges on a separate, if similarly prominent case — one which some fear might set a controversial new precedent whose ramifications will be felt for years to come. 

In early September, AG Carr made public a sweeping indictment of 61 people accused of having "conspired together to prevent the construction of the Atlanta Public Safety Training Center by conducting, coordinating and organizing acts of violence, intimidation and property destruction in Fulton County, elsewhere in the State of Georgia, and other states," his office explained in a press release. This group, the vast majority of whom do not live in Georgia, have all been charged with violations of Atlanta's Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations (RICO) act — the same expansive law Trump and his allies are accused of breaking.

Subscribe to The Week

Escape your echo chamber. Get the facts behind the news, plus analysis from multiple perspectives.


Sign up for The Week's Free Newsletters

From our morning news briefing to a weekly Good News Newsletter, get the best of The Week delivered directly to your inbox.

From our morning news briefing to a weekly Good News Newsletter, get the best of The Week delivered directly to your inbox.

Sign up
To continue reading this article...
Continue reading this article and get limited website access each month.
Get unlimited website access, exclusive newsletters plus much more.
Cancel or pause at any time.
Already a subscriber to The Week?
Not sure which email you used for your subscription? Contact us
Rafi Schwartz, The Week US

Rafi Schwartz has worked as a politics writer at The Week since 2022, where he covers elections, Congress and the White House. He was previously a contributing writer with Mic focusing largely on politics, a senior writer with Splinter News, a staff writer for Fusion's news lab, and the managing editor of Heeb Magazine, a Jewish life and culture publication. Rafi's work has appeared in Rolling Stone, GOOD and The Forward, among others.