Southern Poverty Law Center Attorney Charged With Domestic Terrorism For Alleged Role In Atlanta Anti-Police Riots

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James Lynch Investigative Reporter
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An attorney for the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC), a prominent left-wing activist organization, was indicted on domestic terrorism and racketeering charges for his alleged role in Atlanta’s “stop cop city” riots.

Thomas Webb Jurgens, an attorney for the SPLC, was one of 61 people indicted in Fulton County, Georgia for participating in the “stop cop city” movement, according to an indictment released Tuesday. (RELATED: 61 Indicted On Racketeering Charges From ‘Anti-Cop’ Group That Sought To Prevent Building Of Atlanta Police Facility)

“On or about March 5, 2023, Thomas Jurgens did join an organized mob and succeeded in overwhelming the police force, thereby aiding and abetting in the offense of Arson and Domestic Terrorism in an attempt to occupy the DeKalb forest and prevent the building of the Atlanta Public Safety Training Center,” the indictment reads.

The “stop cop city” protest movement began during the George Floyd riots in summer 2020. It used violent demonstrations to fight against police and government activity on an estimated 255 occasions, the indictment states. Prosecutors singled out activists from left-wing group “Defend the Atlanta Forest” for protesting the Atlanta Public Safety Training Center, a $90 million police training facility known as “cop city” among progressive activists, according to the indictment.

“Defend the Atlanta Forest is a self-identified coalition and enterprise of militant anarchists, eco-activists, and community organizers,” the indictment asserts.

“Based in Atlanta, this anarchist, anti-police, and environmental activism organization coordinates, advertises, and conducts. . .  ‘direct action’ [that] has included vandalizing of private property, arson, destruction of government property, attacks on utility workers, attacks on law enforcement, attacks on private citizens, and gun violence.”

Each of the 61 defendants was charged with racketeering under Georgia’s RICO statute for committing racketeering activity to prevent the police facility from being built, the indictment states.

Jurgens, 28, was one of 23 people arrested and charged with domestic terrorism in March for rioting against the construction of the Atlanta Public Safety Training Center, a new police training facility under construction. He was working as a staff attorney for the SPLC’s economic justice project at the time of his arrest, according to his now-deleted LinkedIn page.

Jurgens graduated from the University of Georgia law school and is an active member in good standing of the Georgia Bar, the State Bar of Georgia says. The SPLC defended Jurgens in March following his arrest and placed the blame on local police officers.

“An employee at the SPLC was arrested while acting — and identifying — as a legal observer on behalf of the National Lawyers Guild (NLG). The employee is an experienced legal observer, and their arrest is not evidence of any crime, but of heavy-handed law enforcement intervention against protesters,” the left-wing activist organization said in a statement on March 6.

SPLC has an endowment of roughly $731.9 million primarily from donor contributions, the group’s website says. The organization claims to monitor alleged extremist organizations and hate groups.

The SPLC did not respond to a request for comment by the time of publication.