Trial begins this week in one of Atlanta training center RICO cases

The indictment mainly focuses on the Defend the Atlanta Forest group, describing it as an Atlanta-based organization that prosecutors say is an “anti-government, anti-police, and anti-corporate extremist organization.”

ExploreMore than 60 Atlanta training center activists named in RICO Indictment

King, who faces one RICO charge, is accused of trespassing into the DeKalb County forest on March 5, 2023, by joining “an organized mob of individuals designed to overwhelm the police force in an attempt to occupy the DeKalb forest and cause property damage,” according to the indictment.

The indictment alleges the group aimed to occupy parts or all of the 381 forested acres to halt training center construction. The forest is in DeKalb County, but owned by the city of Atlanta and leased to the Atlanta Police Foundation.

In November, most defendants named in the indictment were arraigned. King’s bond was set at $15,000.

Who are the players?

The Georgia Attorney General’s Office is prosecuting the case in Fulton County. Deputy Attorney General John Fowler is the lead prosecutor for the AG’s office.

King is being represented by Suri Chadha Jimenez, who has experience with RICO cases after representing a defendant in the ongoing Young Slime Life case.

Judge Adams was assigned to handle all 61 defendants in the indictment, after Judge Scott McAfee, who was originally assigned to the case, filed an order of recusal. McAfee did so noting he regularly collaborated with the Prosecution Division of the Attorney General’s Office during his time at the Georgia Office of the Inspector General, and discussed aspects of the investigation that led to the indictment.

ExploreTraining center activists arraigned, as others protest outside courthouse

How long will jury selection take?

This part is done. Unlike the YSL trial, where jury selection took most of 2023, jury selection for this case took place within two days in December. A panel of 14, including 12 trial jurors and two alternates, include four Black women, three white women, three Black men, two white men, one Asian woman and one woman of another race.

Pre-trial motions are scheduled for Jan. 8 and not expected to take more than a couple of hours. King’s trial is expected to last three to four weeks.

ExploreVandalism in other states linked to opponents of Atlanta’s training center

What are opponents protesting?

Opponents argue the training center will further militarize police, and worry about its environmental impact. City officials and the Atlanta Police Foundation say the $90 million facility is key to police and firefighters getting first-rate training to protect citizens.

Legal attempts to halt construction and to hold a referendum on the training center are ongoing.

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