(NewsNation) — Georgia Attorney General Chris Carr thinks criticism of an indictment against more than 60 activists near Atlanta is “absurd.”
Sixty-one people have been charged by the Georgia Attorney General’s Office with violating Georgia’s Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations (RICO) Act in connection to protests in opposition to a new policing and firefighting training center outside of Atlanta that has come to be known by some critics as “Cop City.”
The 85-acre training center has come under fire by some environmental activists concerned with possible damage to a nearby forest and has also been criticized by anti-police demonstrators. On the other side, local officials think the facility will help streamline training for police, fire and first responders.
The indictment comes after dozens of people allegedly tossed rocks, bricks, Molotov cocktails and fireworks at law enforcement near the future training center site.
The “Stop Cop City” X account reposted a tweet that reads: “The logic of this RICO case suggests you could be indicted in the future if you: are an abolitionist, donate to a bail fund, buy food for unhoused people, think we should protect the environment, believe we should protect people over profits, or support anyone who does.”
Carr responded to the post in an interview with NewsNation host Dan Abrams.
“I think it’s absurd. This is about acts of violence, either committing them yourself or supporting those who work on committing acts of violence,” Carr said. “Look, we all have a First Amendment right to peacefully protest. But protesters use words. Violence is not speech. Violence is not protected by the First Amendment.”
He continued: “This entire indictment when you look at it is about those that engaged in violence, those that were attempting to occupy the land where this training center is going to be. So, to suggest otherwise is absolutely absurd.”
Carr feels like the state’s case is very strong and says he won’t tolerate violence in Georgia.
“The bottom line is this: We’re not going to look the other way when violence occurs in our state. We’re not Portland, and we’re not Seattle,” Carr said. “We’re going to hold those accountable that actually do that.”
Carr said if people are peacefully protesting, he will defend their right to do so.
“But this (indictment) is about those that engage in acts of violence, and it’s not going to be tolerated,” Carr said.
The City Council approved the $90 million public safety training center project in 2021.
Andrew Dorn contributed to this report.