05/31/2023 | Press release | Distributed by Public on 05/31/2023 13:15
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact: [email protected]
May 31, 2023
On the morning of Wednesday, May 31, the Georgia Bureau of Investigation (GBI) and Atlanta Police Department (APD) raided the homes of and arrested three activists with the Atlanta Solidarity Fund. These arrests are a clear attempt to silence protest and sever activists from legal counsel and community support.
National Lawyers Guild (NLG) is in firm solidarity with the Atlanta Solidarity Fund and all of the Stop Cop City activists unjustly targeted by law enforcement. Facilitating access to attorneys is not unlawful; rather, bail funds and other legal support measures help to ensure that people who are arrested have access to their constitutionally-protected right to counsel.
"The state of Georgia is launching an attack on the Atlanta community," said Susi Durán, Chair of the NLG Atlanta Chapter. "We're protecting ourselves against militarized policing, increased surveillance, and environmental destruction. GBI and APD are responding by making mass arrests and cutting people off from critical legal resources while they bulldoze over community concerns."
During seven hours of public comment at an Atlanta City Council meeting on May 15, not one person spoke in favor of Cop City. With more than 280 people listed on the sign up sheet and many more left off after the list closed, it is clear that the Atlanta community is demanding a halt to the construction.
"Bail funds exist to protect people's right to dissent," said NLG President Suzanne Adely. "They are necessary, legally sound resources that help people more safely access their constitutionally protected rights to speech and assembly by lowering the risks of financial ruin or indefinite jail time."
"Arresting bail fund organizers is state repression," Adely continued. "NLG strongly condemns the state of Georgia's organized effort to silence, criminalize, and punish movements for justice."
As stated in an April 10 letter from NLG, Human Rights Watch, and more than 40 other human and environmental rights groups, legal support resources such as the Atlanta Solidarity Fund offer "necessary, constitutionally-protected resources to anybody who might have unwanted interactions with law enforcement." By targeting these resources, GBI and APD are deploying legally unsound tactics to silence activists under threat of jail time, terrorism charges, police violence, and other methods of force.
NLG joins the Atlanta community and many other legal, environmental, and human rights organizations in demanding the release of the three arrested Atlanta Solidarity Fund organizers and an end to the GBI investigation of critical legal support resources.
The National Lawyers Guild has used law to promote human rights over property interests for 85 years. The NLG Legal Observer program trains volunteers to witness police conduct. For more information about NLG's activist support programs, please visit the NLG website.