ATLANTA — Protestors gathered outside the Dekalb County Detention Center after police raided a nonprofit and arrested three people.
The organization they work for is known for bailing people out who are arrested in connection to protesting Atlanta’s plan to build a public safety training center.
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Marlon Scott Kautz, 39, of Atlanta, Savannah D Patterson, 30, of Savannah, and Adele Maclean, 42, of Atlanta, were all charged Wednesday.
The Georgia Bureau of Investigation said the charges stem from the ongoing investigation of “individuals responsible for numerous criminal acts” at the South River Forest site and other metro Atlanta locations.
The three are part of a nonprofit called the Atlanta Solidarity Fund. ASF is known for bailing protestors out of jail. Their latest focus is on protestors connected to the effort to stop Atlanta from building a training center in Dekalb County.
Wednesday evening, a group gathered outside the jail demanding the release of the trio.
NewsChopper 2 was over the scene of the raid Wednesday morning, which was happening at a home in the Edgewood neighborhood.
The address matches a house known as the “teardown home” which is painted in rainbow colors and scrawled with messages about resistance. The GBI confirmed the house and raid are connected to its investigation.
According to a release by Stop Cop City, Kautz, Maclean and Patterson work for the Atlanta Solidarity Fund, a nonprofit and bail fund that offers support for protesters who are arrested.
“This is an arrest that is meant to criminalize the movement,” said Kamau Franklin.
Franklin is part of a group called Community Movement Builders, along with Jasmine Burnett.
“I think attacking the bail fund is a strategic choice by the state. It is meant to one, tie up resources,” said Burnett.
Alex Joseph is a former federal prosecutor who criticized the arrest after reading the warrants. The warrants say the group misled donors by using money to fund “domestic violent extremists” who have claimed responsibility for fiery acts of vandalism in an effort to intimidate anyone involved in the construction process.
One warrant said Kautz moved $48,000 to and from accounts, appearing to be money laundering.
“I think that’s normal. Nonprofits have that type of overhead. It also sounds to be like what is a group of disorganized volunteers maybe doing some sloppy bookkeeping. In this country, we do not go against every charitable organization that does sloppy bookkeeping,” said Joseph.
Warrants obtained by Channel 2 Action News accuse Kautz, Maclean and Patterson of “misleading contributed by using funds collected through ha State Registered 501c(3) Network for Strong Communities to fund the actions in part of Defend the Atlanta Forest (DTAF), a group classified by the United States Department of Homeland Security as Domestic Violence Extremists.”
According to warrants, the Atlanta Solidarity Fund provided material support in the form of payments and reimbursements to members of DTAF through NFSC.
The group is accused of using funds from the NFSC to purchase building and camping supplies, gasoline, signs, COVID tests and forest clean-up supplies.
At one point, nearly $50,000 was moved from NFSC to Siskiyou Mutual Aid a day after NFSC was announced as a funding source during a court hearing.
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Warrants stated that “SMA then returned the funds to NFSC, appearing to launder the funds.”
“Today’s arrests are the latest escalation in the state’s attacks on the right to protest,” organizers said.
The group said they plan to demonstrate in front of the Dekalb County jail Thursday night.
The case is being prosecuted by the Georgia Attorney General’s Office and the DeKalb County District Attorney’s Office.
“Today’s arrests are about the violence that occurred at the site of the future Atlanta Public Safety Training Center and elsewhere,” Attorney General Chris Carr said. “As we have said before, we will not rest until we have held accountable every person who has funded, organized, or participated in this violence and intimidation.”
Gov. Brian Kemp also issued a statement Wednesday, saying that law enforcement has worked for months to secure the site in the face of violence from “mostly out-of-state activists.”
“Today, we’re proud to share that those who backed their illegal actions are also under arrest and will face justice,” Kemp said. “These criminals facilitated and encouraged domestic terrorism with no regard for others, watching as communities faced the destructive consequences of their actions.”
Protestors argue they’re innocent until proven guilty and bail resources are necessary to free speech.
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