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Understanding The RICO Indictments Against Stop Cop City Activists

National Lawyers Guild Atlanta, NLG International Committee and NLG National hosted a discussion on Monday, September 25: “Understanding the RICO Indictments Against Stop Cop City Activists.” Panelists and moderators were Stanley Cohen, Devin Franklin, Mo Meltzer-Cohen, Don Samuel and Azadeh Shahshahani, and the webinar was hosted by Suzanne Adely, Susi Durán and Sarina Larson. 

We’re sharing a few useful definitions and links that were shared in the chat during the event, but more details and resources will be available in a forthcoming report:

Further information: 

Legal and specialized terminology used in the webinar, and resources circulated by attendees: 

  • Younger abstention means that federal courts should abstain from cases that are pending in state proceedings (can be avoided by doctrine of futility). It refers to Younger v. Harris , 401 U.S. 37 (1971).
  • “Gives no notice” means this: a law has to be written in a way that a regular person would know what it makes illegal and the DT statute doesn’t
  • “Overt acts” in a RICO indictment do not necessarily have to be criminal. However, “predicate acts” alleged in the RICO count must be criminal.
  • FTO is a designated “Foreign Terrorist Organization.” A list of these is at: https://www.state.gov/foreign-terrorist-organizations/ 
  • One major case related to FTOs and “material support” law is Holder v. Humanitarian Law Project, 561 U.S. 1 (2010): https://charityandsecurity.org/litigation/hlp/
  • The “Brandenburg test” is the standard used to evaluate First Amendment cases. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Brandenburg_v._OhioIt takes its name from Brandenburg v. Ohio, 395 us 444 (1969)
  • Mojahedin e-Khalq, an organization that was previously FTO listed and then allied with the US government, here: https://theintercept.com/2020/03/22/mek-mojahedin-e-khalq-iran/
  • “JTTF” is the Joint Terrorism Task Force
  • GILEE (Georgia International Law Enforcement Exchange) is housed at Georgia State University! https://georgiastatesignal.com/an-introduction-recent-events-and-student-opposition/ https://georgiastatesignal.com/understanding-gilee/
  • “301.4” means you get a sentencing enhancement that makes you have more years in prison
  • “Levels” are related to the federal sentencing guidelines that give judges rules about how many years people should get in prison based on their criminal history.
  • “Sui generis” means special and unique, i.e., “they’re making it up”
  • Upcoming mobilization that many people are participating in: https://blockcopcity.org and had questions about the effect of these indictments.
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