A left-leaning Georgia prosecutor has stepped back from pursuing “Stop Cop City” rioters who violently attacked a police construction site in March, citing a difference in “prosecution philosophies” with Georgia’s attorney general and referencing a Southern Poverty Law Center lawyer who faces domestic terrorism charges in the incident. The SPLC did not respond when asked for evidence that the lawyer did not engage in violence.
DeKalb County District Attorney Sherry Boston announced Friday that her office had withdrawn from that SPLC lawyer’s case and others related to the attack because of “fundamentally different prosecution philosophies” with Georgia Attorney General Chris Carr, a Republican.
Boston referred to the case against the SPLC lawyer, Thomas Webb Jurgens, as “one of the touch points” that led her to withdraw from the Cop City cases. Left-leaning critics have claimed that Georgia’s domestic terrorism law—enacted in 2017—enables law enforcement to crack down on protesters who are exercising their free speech.
Carr vowed to continue prosecuting the cases, drawing a clear contrast between peaceful protests and acts of violence.
“Our office will continue to defend the First Amendment right to peacefully protest. However, acts of violence to person or property will not be tolerated,” Carr told The Daily Signal in a statement Monday. “This includes shooting police officers, throwing Molotov cocktails at law enforcement, vandalizing private homes and businesses, and setting fire to police vehicles or offices.”
“The Georgia statute defines domestic terrorism, and we will not hesitate to uphold the law,” Carr added. “In this case, as with all others, we are guided by the facts, and we will continue to use all resources at our disposal to keep the people of our state safe.”
Authorities arrested Jurgens in connection with the violent attack March 5 on the police training facility known as Cop City under construction just outside Atlanta.
“On March 5, 2023, a group of violent agitators used the cover of a peaceful protest of the proposed Atlanta Public Safety Training Center to conduct a coordinated attack on construction equipment and police officers,” Atlanta police reported after the incident. “They changed into black clothing and entered the construction area and began to throw large rocks, bricks, Molotov cocktails, and fireworks at police officers.”
Left-leaning protesters have targeted the facility for months, claiming that the training center would propagate militarized policing and harm the environment. Police reported that the March 5 agitators “destroyed multiple pieces of construction equipment by fire and vandalism” and that “the illegal actions of the agitators could have resulted in bodily harm.”
Police released video footage showing the agitators marching toward the facility in a pseudo-militaristic fashion.
Chief Assistant District Attorney Peter Johnson noted that police arrested 23 agitators—including Jurgens—and charged them with domestic terrorism after investigators determined that they split off from the main group of activists.
“This group changed their clothing into all blackout clothing. They had shields, like riot-type shields, they had bags of rocks, fireworks, Molotov cocktails,” Johnson told WXIA-TV/11Alive.
In a March 6 statement, the SPLC confirmed that Jurgens had been arrested and said its lawyer had been present during the Cop City protest as a legal observer with the National Lawyers Guild. The SPLC claimed the arrest of its employee “is not evidence of any crime but of heavy-handed law enforcement intervention against protesters.”
The National Lawyers Guild condemned the arrests of all agitators as “part of ongoing state repression and violence against racial and environmental justice protesters.”
The SPLC later claimed that Jurgens “was performing a public service, documenting potential violations of protesters’ rights.” The center added: “We are confident that the evidence will demonstrate he was a peaceful legal observer.”
As I explained in my book, “Making Hate Pay: The Corruption of the Southern Poverty Law Center,” the SPLC weaponized its history in bankrupting the Ku Klux Klan by placing mainstream conservative and Christian organizations on a “hate map” with KKK chapters. The SPLC recently expanded this strategy to include parental rights groups such as Moms for Liberty.
Meanwhile, critics say the SPLC carries water for Antifa agitators and declines to condemn pro-abortion vandals who target pregnancy centers.
The Georgia Attorney General’s Office declined to comment on the specific acts for which Jurgens is charged, saying the case is pending. In Dekalb County, Boston’s office also declined to comment on the specific charges or evidence for that reason.
The SPLC declined to comment when asked whether Jurgens changed into black-bloc-style clothing and whether he physically attacked police officers or equipment during the assault on Cop City. The SPLC declined to specify whether it had any evidence that Jurgens had remained peaceful.
Boston, the DeKalb County district attorney, previously defended the domestic terrorism charges in an interview with Vice News that ran Sunday night.
“We’re not talking about people holding signs,” Boston said. “We’re talking about potentially people throwing incendiary devices, rocks, setting things on fire. There’s a huge distinction between those two.”
“It’s not just about an event and people, it’s about is this [a] felonious act aimed specifically to cause economic loss or destroy a government facility or critical infrastructure?” she added.
On Friday, however, Boston announced that she had withdrawn from the Jurgens case, among others.
“We had some differences —when I say we, I mean myself and the attorney general’s office — about who should be charged and what they should be charged with,” she told WABE. Of Jurgens, she said, “That was one of the touch points of a number of touch points that ultimately led me to make the decision that I have made here now.”
Zack Smith, a legal fellow in The Heritage Foundation’s Edwin Meese III Center for Legal and Judicial Studies and co-author of the book “Rogue Prosecutors: How Radical Soros Lawyers Are Destroying America’s Communities,” condemned Boston as part of the soft-on-crime movement revealed by his book. (The Daily Signal is The Heritage Foundation’s news outlet.)
“Unfortunately, Sherry Boston is part of the Soros-backed, soft-on-crime, rogue prosecutor movement,” Smith told The Daily Signal. “Rather than aggressively prosecuting crimes, she has bought into the radical policies pushed by this movement and has partnered with radical organizations such as the misnamed Fair and Just Prosecution to push policies that benefit criminals and harm victims.”
Have an opinion about this article? To sound off, please email letters@DailySignal.com and we’ll consider publishing your edited remarks in our regular “We Hear You” feature. Remember to include the url or headline of the article plus your name and town and/or state.