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GBI, Atlanta Police make arrests in alleged charity fraud case connected to Cop City protest movement

Crime and public safety DeKalb County Metro ATL

GBI, Atlanta Police make arrests in alleged charity fraud case connected to Cop City protest movement

Photo provided by the GBI

Atlanta, GA — The Georgia Bureau of Investigation and the Atlanta Police Department have arrested three people on charges of money laundering and charity fraud.

The three people are organizers of the Atlanta Solidarity Fund, a nonprofit organization and bail fund that supports “those facing state repression for protest-related activity.” The ASF was founded in 2016.

Marlon Scott Kautz, age 39, of Atlanta, Savannah D Patterson, age 30, of Savannah and Adele Maclean, age 42, of Atlanta were all charged on May 31 related to an ongoing investigation of incidents at the future site of the Atlanta Public Safety Training Center and other metro Atlanta locations, according to a press release from the GBI.

The site has been the center of controversy over the last few months. Police officers shot and killed Manuel “Tortuguita” Esteban Paez Teran, 26, on Jan. 18 near an 85-acre police/fire training facility located in DeKalb County’s South River Forest. Activists call it “Cop City.” A State Trooper was also shot and wounded.

GBI agents and APD officers executed a search warrant on Wednesday and found evidence linking the suspects to the financial crimes. Kautz, Patterson and Maclean will be booked into a local jail and a bond hearing will be scheduled soon.

Agents and officers executed a search warrant and found evidence linking the three suspects to the financial crimes, a press release from GBI says. All three charged will be booked into a local jail and will have a bond hearing scheduled soon. This case is being jointly prosecuted by the Georgia Attorney General’s Office and the DeKalb County District Attorney’s Office.

Stop Cop City Movement activists also released a press release claiming that APD is ramping up political repression of its adversaries and is targeting the Atlanta Solidarity Fund.

Here is the full press release.

Atlanta, GA– This morning, the Atlanta Police Department raided the home of three organizers with the Atlanta Solidarity Fund (ASF), a nonprofit organization and bail fund founded in 2016 that offers legal support to those facing state repression for protest-related activity. ASF has been an outspoken critic of state repression of social movements, use of chemical weapons on protesters, and increasing police militarization. Marlon Kautz, Savannah Patterson, and Adele Mclean were arrested and have been charged with money laundering and charity fraud. The three are the first known people associated with a bail fund to be criminally charged.

“This is an extreme provocation by Atlanta Police Department and the State of Georgia. Bailing out protestors who exercise their constitutionally protected rights is simply not a crime. In fact, it is a historically grounded tradition in the very same social and political movements that the city of Atlanta prides itself on. Someone had to bail out civil rights activists in the 60’s–I think we can all agree that community support isn’t a crime,” said attorney Lauren Regan, Executive Director of the Civil Liberties Defense Center.

The ASF provides support for those facing repression, while police have continually escalated their attacks on protesters over the past year. To date, 42 people have been charged with domestic terrorism and a protester, Tortuguita, was murdered by Georgia State Patrol. Since this murder, nearly 30 additional people have been charged with domestic terrorism for their alleged participation in protests, and some for simply attending a music festival organized in support of the movement. At this time, three people remain in jail, refused bond multiple time. Today’s arrests are the latest escalation in the state’s attacks on the right to protest.

Participants in the movement remain committed and unafraid: “This is targeting of organizers and movements by the police and the state. Bail funds have been a part of organizing the Civil Rights movement and labor movement. We will continue to fight back against Cop City and the political arrest of our friends and comrades,” said Kamau Franklin of Community Movement Builders.

The Atlanta Solidarity Fund was founded to provide support to anyone arrested while engaging in protest. Bail funds and other forms of mutual aid gained a national spotlight during the George Floyd Uprising in 2020, but are a long held tradition within politically active communities. This morning, Attorney General Chris Carr stated that he would not rest until every person who has funded or organized with this movement is held accountable. This is a direct attack on the tens of thousands of people who have contributed small dollar amounts to support the exercising of 1st Amendment rights.

This latest attack is a desperate move by the state to quash a rapidly expanding social movement. Community members are demanding these charges be dropped immediately, and are planning a rally at the DeKalb County Jail today at 6:30pm.

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