Fulton County Attorney General Christopher Carr filed a long indictment against 61 people in the Fulton County Superior Court last week, alleging that the defendants were part of a criminal conspiracy to obstruct the construction of a police and firefighting training facility in the Atlanta area.
The facility, known as “Copy City” by its opponents, has been the subject of numerous protests in the Atlanta area, with one activist shot and killed by police.
In response to the indictment, some posters on X are pointing out how much the indictment depends on online activity and social media posts by the defendants.
“‘Social media’ is mentioned 10 times and ‘post’ 43 times in the Atlanta RICO indictment,” pointed out @linksonthechain. “Half of this thing is just listing what people posted online and tying those posts to real people.”
The indictment claims that members of Defend the Atlanta Forest conspired to occupy the 381 acres of forested land in DeKalb County, Georgia where the training facility was planned to be built.
“Each individual charged in this indictment knowing [sic] joined the conspiracy in an attempt to prevent the training center from being built,” the complaint alleges.
The indictment includes a discussion of the alleged anarchist philosophy of Defend the Atlanta Forest, including the promotion of “collectivism,” “social solidarity,” and “mutualism/mutual aid.”
Some of the acts cited by the complaint in furtherance of the conspiracy to shut down the training center included the operation of a blog called the Scenes Blog, which “promotes violent anarchy.”
According to the complaint, a publicly posted video by Defend the Atlanta Forest “acknowledges that it operates the Scenes Blog.”
The latest post on that blog from Sept. 6 is a so-called communique submitted over email by the ‘march 5th movement’ claiming responsibility for the burning of cop cars in Asheville.
“theres freakin pigs everywhere and their cars are extremely flammable,” the post reads. “burning a cop car might be the easiest thing you’ve done in your life, it was for us.”
The indictment also brings charges against a defendant called Christopher Reynolds, who’s accused of trying to occupy a treehouse in the DeKalb Woods on Jan. 18, 2023. Reynolds refused to obey police commands to leave the tree house, according to the complaint and was removed by police.
“[Reynolds] did take photos and video of police officers as police attempted to remove Reynolds from the treehouse,” the complaint alleges. “The photos and video were subsequently posted on social media. This was done to spread the message of Defend the Atlanta Forest. This was an overt act in furtherance of the conspiracy.”
The indictment builds part of its case that Defend the Atlanta Forest was an organized operation by making frequent references to its social media operations.
“Defend the Atlanta Forest maintains a strong social media presence on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and various blogs, and has also worked with external entities to produce videos and podcast interviews,” the complaint reads.
The organization uses “various social media platforms,” like Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Telegram, and blogs to promote days of action, the complaint says.
“The websites used to claim activity are often foreign-hosted, and Defend the Atlanta Forest participants often promote online security measures which disguise a user’s true identity, such as the use of Virtual Private Networks (VPN).”
Telegram and Twitter, according to the complaint, are used for recruiting out of staters for “promoting the anarchy movement.”
“Defend the Atlanta Forest knowingly reaps the benefits of these violent non-Georgians by using violence, threats, and property damage to intimidate businesses, government, and civilians,” the complaint says.
Some X users mocked the complaint for a lack of sophistication.
“this is my favorite part of the Stop Cop City RICO indictment,” posted @wellgoshacs, with a screenshot attached showing that another defendant, Geoffrey Parsons, allegedly “sign[ed] his name as ‘ACAB.’ This was an overt act in furtherance of the conspiracy.”
“the whole indictment is such a riot tho, completely garbage writing, prosecutors really are just bottom of the barrel morons huh,” they said.
However, social media posts have been used in Fulton County before to set the stage for RICO cases. Namely, this summer, when former President Donald Trump was indicted in the same district for posts he made.