Cracks in the Prosecution: “Stop Cop City” Protestors Face Precarious RICO Charges in Atlanta

Cracks in the Prosecution: “Stop Cop City” Protestors Face Precarious RICO Charges in Atlanta

by Patrick Wilson

Atlanta, GA – A legal battle of unprecedented proportions is unfolding in Georgia, where 61 individuals associated with the “Stop Cop City” movement face sweeping charges under the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations (RICO) Act. This controversial application of a law traditionally reserved for organized crime has ignited a firestorm of debate, raising concerns about free speech, the right to protest, and the very foundations of democratic dissent.

Contested Terrain: The Battle Lines of “Cop City”

The Atlanta Public Safety Training Center, nicknamed “Cop City” by its detractors, has been a flashpoint for controversy since its inception. Environmentalists and social justice activists raise concerns about the project’s environmental impact, potential for militarized police training, and displacement of marginalized communities. Protests have been multi-faceted, ranging from peaceful demonstrations to clashes with police, with accusations of property damage and assault on both sides.

RICO’s Heavy Hammer: A Law Out of Place?

In August 2023, the Georgia Attorney General’s office dropped a legal bombshell, leveling RICO charges against the 61 individuals. The indictment paints a chilling picture of a coordinated “criminal enterprise,” alleging acts of vandalism, arson, and even domestic terrorism. However, critics fiercely contest this narrative, arguing that the evidence is flimsy, the accusations speculative, and the very application of RICO to protest movements a dangerous precedent.

A Case Built on Sand? Examining the Cracks in the Prosecution’s Argument

Several fundamental flaws weaken the prosecution’s case, casting serious doubt on its validity:

  • Strained Interpretation of RICO: The statute requires proof of a continuous criminal enterprise, a standard legal experts argue is ill-suited to the diverse and often spontaneous nature of the protests. Connecting individual acts to a larger conspiracy is proving difficult, with accusations often based on circumstantial evidence and tenuous links.
  • Chilling Effect on Dissent: The mere threat of lengthy RICO sentences for protest activity casts a long shadow over the First Amendment right to dissent. This chilling effect could potentially stifle legitimate activism under the guise of national security.
  • Overreach and Questionable Motives: Critics point to the unprecedented use of RICO against protesters as politically motivated, aimed at silencing dissent and quashing a growing social movement. This raises concerns about the potential for abuse of a powerful legal tool.

An Uncertain Future: A Verdict Looming in the Fog

The legal battle surrounding “Stop Cop City” is far from over. Pre-trial hearings are ongoing, and legal challenges are expected. The outcome could have far-reaching consequences, not only for the fate of the 61 individuals but also for the future of protest movements nationwide and the interpretation of the RICO statute.

Public Scrutiny and Mounting Disquiet

The case has garnered national attention, drawing scrutiny from legal scholars, human rights groups, and even politicians across the political spectrum. Public opinion polls suggest a growing unease with the use of such a heavy-handed legal tool against protesters, raising questions about the balance between security and civil liberties.

Conclusion: A Precarious Path Ahead, But Cracks Offer Hope

While the ultimate verdict in the “Stop Cop City” case remains uncertain, the cracks in the prosecution’s argument are becoming increasingly visible. Whether the charges ultimately hold up or crumble under judicial scrutiny, the case has already ignited a critical conversation about the limits of state power, the right to dissent, and the very foundations of a free and democratic society. The outcome will not only determine the fate of the 61 individuals but also set a precedent for future protest movements and establish the boundaries of free speech in America. The path ahead remains precarious, but the growing cracks in the prosecution’s case offer a flicker of hope for those fighting for environmental justice, social change, and the right to peacefully express dissent.

** This piece was created with the help of ai.

Maine’s Murky Waters: Trump Disqualification Decision Still Up in the Air After Colorado Ruling

Maine’s Murky Waters: Trump Disqualification Decision Still Up in the Air After Colorado Ruling

by Patrick Wilson

The 2024 presidential election in Maine continues to swirl in uncertainty, as the possibility of former President Donald Trump’s disqualification from the Republican primary ballot hangs in the balance. Following the landmark decision by the Colorado Supreme Court to bar Trump from that state’s ballot based on his role in the January 6th attack on the U.S. Capitol, Maine’s Secretary of State, Shenna Bellows, has delayed her initial decision and now aims to announce it next week. This delay underscores the complexity of the legal and political landscape surrounding Trump’s potential disqualification.

The Challenges:

Three separate challenges remain active in Maine, each arguing that Trump is ineligible for the ballot under different constitutional provisions. With the Colorado precedent now established, the 14th Amendment, Section 3, takes center stage:

  • 14th Amendment, Section 3: Both Colorado and Maine challengers contend that Trump’s actions on January 6th constitute an insurrection or rebellion, disqualifying him from holding federal office. The Colorado Supreme Court’s detailed legal reasoning provides ammunition for the Maine challengers and adds significant pressure to Bellows’ decision.
  • 22nd Amendment: This amendment limits presidents to two terms. While Trump served two elected terms, the challengers argue his repeated claims of winning the 2020 election – despite its certification for Joe Biden – violate the spirit of the amendment. Their logic: by falsely asserting a right to a third term, Trump undermines the democratic process and the amendment’s core principle of preventing power consolidation.

    This argument faces significant hurdles. The amendment applies to “elected” terms, and technically, Trump hasn’t yet been “elected” for a third term. Additionally, proving intent to circumvent the amendment through mere words could be challenging. However, it raises intriguing questions about the line between free speech and actions that undermine fair elections, potentially offering future legal ammunition against similar claims.

  • State Constitution: The Maine Constitution includes a clause barring individuals convicted of “treason, bribery, or other high crimes and misdemeanors” from holding public office. The challengers argue Trump’s actions on January 6th fall under this category, even without a criminal conviction.

    This argument hinges on how “high crimes and misdemeanors” are interpreted. Traditionally, it applies to official misconduct by government officials, not actions by private citizens. However, the challengers contend that Trump’s role in inciting the Capitol riot, while holding the office of President, constitutes such an offense.

    This is a novel interpretation, likely facing legal challenges. But it highlights the flexibility state constitutions offer in holding officials accountable. If successful, it could set a precedent for other states to use their own constitutions to address potential presidential misconduct, independent of federal legal processes.

Bellows’ Dilemma:

Secretary Bellows faces a monumental task with even greater ramifications due to the Colorado decision. She must not only weigh the legal arguments surrounding Trump’s eligibility but also consider the potential national implications of her choice. Any decision, whether disqualifying Trump or allowing him on the ballot, will likely face legal challenges and potentially reach the Supreme Court.

The Potential Fallout:

The consequences of Bellows’ decision are significant, with the Colorado ruling raising the stakes even higher:

  • National Precedent: If Trump is disqualified, it would be a historic first, following Colorado’s lead and potentially influencing other states to follow suit. This could set a national precedent for disqualifying candidates based on alleged involvement in insurrection.
  • Political Tensions: Allowing Trump on the ballot could further inflame political tensions in Maine and across the nation, further amplifying concerns about the integrity of the electoral process.
  • Legal Landscape: Regardless of the decision, legal challenges are almost certain, potentially culminating in a Supreme Court showdown that could reshape the landscape of future elections.

Beyond the Headlines:

The Trump disqualification case in Maine goes beyond individual candidates and legal arguments. It raises broader questions about:

  • State Power and Federal Law: Can states like Maine and Colorado independently interpret the 14th Amendment and disqualify candidates based on their own judgments?
  • Electoral Integrity and Partisan Manipulation: Could this case set a precedent for future attempts to disqualify candidates based on political motivations, raising concerns about potential unfairness?
  • Accountability for Political Figures: Are there mechanisms to hold individuals like Trump accountable for actions that may undermine democratic institutions?


With the Colorado decision casting a long shadow, Maine’s Trump disqualification case has become a national spectacle. Secretary Bellows’ decision, expected next week, will be closely watched with potentially far-reaching consequences. This case is not just about Trump’s candidacy; it’s about the future of American democracy, the interpretation of the Constitution, and the delicate balance between individual rights and the integrity of our electoral system.

** This piece was created with the help of ai.

Activate News December 22nd, 2023 SecurityCouncil, SCOTUS, GenderQueer

Activate News December 22nd, 2023 SecurityCouncil, SCOTUS, GenderQueer

Activate News for Friday, December 22nd, 2023

Activate News is your independent source for news, free from the influence of corporations. We’re an all-volunteer radio station that originated at Occupy Boston, and we’re committed to bringing you the news that matters.

Here are some of the stories we’re covering today:

  • UN Security Council passes call for pauses in fighting between Israel and Hamas
  • Supreme Court Delays Trump Immunity Case, Pushing Back Potential Trial
  • Police Search of Middle School for “Gender Queer” Book Sparks Apology and Protests

Tune in at the top of the hour on Activate Radio to hear the latest from Activate News. You can find us online at


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