Eight Remain in Jail from March 5 Weelaunee Forest Raid, 15 Released

Atlanta, GA — Fifteen of the twenty-three people arrested and charged with domestic terrorism on March 5 are now out of jail. The nearly two dozen people were arrested during the South River Music Festival for their alleged involvement in the ongoing effort to stop ‘Cop City’ and to defend the Weelaunee Forest.

During the bond hearing on Thursday, March 23, Chief Assistant District Attorney Peter Johnson stated how some of the defendants allegedly had ‘jail support numbers’ written on their bodies, which he claimed “is important because it shows intent.” Johnson also said that the Atlanta Solidarity Fund, which bails out and supports arrested protesters, is “being investigated as part of the whole thing.”

(On February 25, 2023, local community organizations including the Atlanta Solidarity Fund made an announcement that they believe state prosecutors are planning on releasing indictments charging them as a “criminal organization” under anti-racketeering (RICO) statutes. They have not received indictments as of the publication of this story.)

Jail support numbers — phone numbers associated with jail support organizations — have long been a part of social movements and are used to help people who have been arrested in getting the aid and help they need.

Hannah Riley, the communications director at the Southern Center for Human Rights, live-tweeted the bond hearing and commented how if someone has a jail support number on them, it’s actually “evidence that we live in a horrifying police state.”

The majority of the eight individuals denied bond have yet to be tied to the sabotage scene — the massive direct action on March 5 where hundreds stormed the main police security outpost within the Weelaunee Forest at the proposed ‘Cop City’ construction site. In addition, none of the eight have been shown to have committed any crime at that location. Even without any substantial evidence, Judge Gregory A. Adams sided with the prosecution.

Judge Adams has been a member of the State Bar of Georgia since 1984, and in 2007, the DeKalb County Juvenile Court was unanimously designated by the DeKalb County Commissioners as the Gregory A. Adams Juvenile Justice Center.

In our previous article about the domestic terrorism charges stemming from March 5, we shared publicly accessible data we found showing that Magistrate Judge Anna Watkins Davis, who was the presiding judge for the March 7 bond hearing, has a family connection to a firm tied into the ‘Cop City’ project leadership. She is married to Harold ‘Hal’ Richard Davis, Jr., who works as an International Tax Principal at KPMG, a ‘big four’ accounting firm involved in the leadership of the Atlanta Police Foundation.

Deputy Attorney General John Fowler spoke first at the March 23 hearing, introducing what he and the State of Georgia view as “a well-funded group with millions of dollars hiding behind 501c3 non-profit organizations” that is part of the same organization as the “Autonomous Zone at the Wendy’s where Rayshard Brooks was murdered,” according to the Atlanta Community Press Collective who live-tweeted the hearing.

Then DeKalb County Prosecutor Lance Cross, who is part of the organized crime unit, insisted that anyone at the music festival that weekend was a “party to the crime” of the direct action against ‘Cop City’ construction that took place approximately a mile away.

At one point during the hearing, the judge asked Cross if one of the defendants was a leader in the movement, to which Cross responded “the leader of the movement doesn’t go into the forest.”

About halfway through, one of the defense attorneys made note of how the prosecutors admitted that the claims about some defendants being in possession of “a metal shield” in their arrest warrants were a “typographical error.”

Toward the end of the hearing, Fowler compared people wearing “black clothes” to wearing a “UGA football uniform” and how that “indicates a player was part of the team.”

During one of the breaks within the hearing, Hannah Riley tweeted a reminder to their followers that “what’s happening here is people are being informally sentenced to weeks or months in the DeKalb Jail”:

A current call-in campaign is underway to demand the DeKalb County Jail address the “deplorable” conditions reported by people who remain in jail. The conditions listed include “broken toilets, freezing temperatures, flooded cells, and no access to drinking water.”

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