ATLANTA — Fair Fight Action today released a statement in response to the criminalization of Atlanta-based legal aid advocates by Governor Brian Kemp, Attorney General Chris Carr, and state and local law enforcement agencies.
The move by Kemp comes just one week before the Atlanta City Council plans to vote on a measure to increase funding for the construction of a new police training facility in the South River Forest—referred to by some residents and opponents as ‘Cop City.’ The proposed facility has prompted vocal protestation within the Atlanta community, and has drawn widespread criticism from environmental justice and criminal legal reform organizations both within the state of Georgia and nationwide. The measure—which would double the amount of taxpayer dollars allocated to funding the facility—is expected to pass amid ongoing protests by community members, some of whom have relied on local legal aid and bail funds targeted by Kemp’s latest action.
In response to the criminalization of Atlanta-based legal aid and bail funds, Fair Fight Action released the following statement:
“The constitutionally-enshrined right to peacefully assemble and petition our government for a redress of grievances are core tenets of our democracy, pre-dating Georgia’s statehood. When the state attempts to stifle dissent by attacking groups that provide legal aid to protesters, those very tenets of our democracy are degraded. Peaceful protest and civil disobedience should be welcomed by those in power as markers of a healthy democracy. Instead, Brian Kemp and Chris Carr appear to have resorted to efforts to silence the cries of their constituents.
Legal aid groups and bail funds are, and have long been, critical resources for those seeking to make their voices heard in their communities. The timing of the state actions—just one week before a controversial vote—is not a coincidence. Bail funds were integral during the Civil Rights Movement, oftentimes serving as the only path to freedom for arrested protesters. The incendiary rhetoric against and criminalization of these institutions by the Kemp administration represents an alarming escalation of tensions in the face of serious community concerns. As Kemp and his allies continue executing his shameful agenda to suppress the votes and voices of dissenting Georgians, Fair Fight Action remains committed to ensuring that all voices in our democracy can be heard—free from fear or intimidation—from the sidewalks to the ballot box.”