SVA Stands With Jamie Marsicano and all ‘Stop Cop City’ Protestors
As the state of Georgia continues to push for the construction of a massive police training facility in the Weelaunee Forest in Atlanta, its tactics are becoming increasingly oppressive. On August 29, the Georgia Attorney Generalcharged 61 people associated with the Stop Cop City movement, the mass movement to prevent the construction of the massive police training center in Atlanta’s Weelaunee Forest, with RICO charges–which is short for Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act. RICO is a criminal law originally created to control organized crime. These charges, if indicted, mean the forest defenders would face 5 to 20 years in prison and fines of $25,000 and more.
This state’s move to put innocent protestors behind bars is not just an attempt to silence these individuals, it is political prosecution in service of halting an entire movement. The threat is clear: any efforts to stop the construction of Cop City will be severely criminalized.
If a movement is organized crime, then mechanisms within movement become webs to organized crime, under the Georgia RICO statute. Through the Attorney General’s application of this broad law, the state seeks to prosecute anyone even loosely affiliated with the movement for two or more alleged acts in service of an imagined larger scheme. These acts include flyering, mutual aid, and bail fund organizing. According to the 109-page indictment, the Stop Cop City movement, labeled “Defend the Atlanta Forest,” is a terrorist movement, with its fundamental ideologies and practices being “anarchism”, “collectivism”, “mutual aid”, and “protecting the environment at all costs.” Under the logic that the Stop Cop City movement is a massive criminal operation, non-violent efforts that further the movement, such as mutual aid organizing and flyering, are felonies.
Criminalizing mutual aid is not new–it’s a historical tactic used by law enforcement to squash social justice movements. For example, the Black Panther Party’s breakfast program, which they used to mitigate health and behavioral disparities in Black youth by addressing hunger, was attacked multiple times by the FBI. Communities, resisting by becoming accountable to and resourced by each other, become more interdependent and become empowered to resist state control. Mutual aid, which entails communities cooperating and sharing resources in pursuit of collective survival, defies capitalist and carceral logic and therefore becomes a target of state repression.
Today, it is imperative to fight for the freedom of these 61 co-defendants and all forest defenders, for the sake of their freedom, for the movement to stop the construction of Cop City, and to prevent increasing criminalization of movements and mutual aid. If the state of Georgia wins this RICO case, it would set a precedent that would bolden other states t to silence and crush movements nationwide. In a dangerous move towards fascism, this would leave citizens without the right to protest and organize, leaving people no recourse for questioning or resisting the state.
North Carolina’s own Jamie Mariscano, a trans community organizer in law school at the University of North Carolina Chapel Hill, is one of the 61 facing RICO charges. Because of the false domestic terrorism charges she is facing due to her Stop Cop City activism, Jamie has been barred from returning to UNC’s Campus.
Charlotte Uprising, a local Charlotte-based mutual aid organization, is calling for community members to donate funds to support getting court defenders to Georgia to show up for Jamie as well as the other forest defenders.
For those interested in donating you can send funds by:
- Cashapp: $CLTsolidarity
- Venmo @CLTsolidarity
Image: Just Seeds