On November 7th, Georgia saw nearly 60 people arraigned on an assortment of charges, including racketeering. The arraignment is the next step in the legal process begun last month when Georgia’s Republican State Attorney General Chris Carr filed racketeering charges against 61 people, most of whom were or are associated with the 2020 George Floyd protests in Atlanta and/or the Stop Cop City movement in the city.
This latest indictment is a continuation of charges previously filed by the Georgia Bureau of Investigation which saw 42 activists charged with domestic terrorism last spring in the months after police executed climate activist Manuel “Tortuguita” Paez Terán. That investigation saw Sherry Boston – the DeKalb County District Attorney – remove her office from participation over Carr’s intent to charge a legal observer with domestic terrorism, among other concerns with the investigation.
Despite Boston’s withdrawal, Carr went ahead with an exceedingly frivolous slate of charges, one that seeks to establish “mutual aid,” “collectivism,” and “anarchism,” as prosecutable offenses that are also intrinsically terroristic. Jacobin aptly called the charges, and the tinfoil-esque indictment which attempts to justify them, outright “cartoonish.”
Yet, cartoonish and manufactured as the charges may be, the folks named in the indictment face incredible consequences for activities that reflect the exercise of their right to free speech. If convicted, activists could face 20 years in prison for the simple act of handing out flyers naming and criticizing police violence, and those separately staring down domestic terrorism charges face up to 35 years. The individual consequences of these charges are terrifying and extreme; the precedential consequences of the indictment are perhaps scarier still.
In truth, the indictment itself represents a vicious oppression of democratic rights, one funded by corporations, fueled by a racist and utterly unaccountable policing system, and resulting in a well-financed violent state crackdown on ideological and political dissent.
Indeed, what Carr is pursuing with these charges is not just a criminalization of constitutionally protected action – as if that isn’t concerning enough – but also the overt criminalization of any anti-police (or police accountability) sentiment whatsoever. Not to mention that these charges fundamentally seek to establish that virtually any kind of protest activity (including those guaranteed under the First and Fourteenth Amendments) can be hereafter re-classified as intrinsically part of a “violent” crime, something attractive to both cops and their corporate benefactors.
Corporations have long invested huge resources into violent policing systems, and corporate donations to police and police foundations are often structured to “curry [them] favor with a force that exists primarily to protect property and capital.” Corporations, also, of course, have a vested interest (financial and otherwise) in the disenfranchisement of protestors broadly.
While corporations have endeavored over the past three years to publicly profess their commitment to anti-racism and to tout their pursuit of some abstracted sense of “justice,” they have utterly (albeit unsurprisingly) failed to actualize those commitments in any real sense. Many of these corporate commitments ostensibly included a dedication to invest corporate dollars in the pursuit of racial justice and to divest from systems that perpetuate racism. Companies like JPMorgan Chase, Coca-Cola, AT&T, Home Depot and more spent 2020 racing to denounce George Floyd’s murder and to voice their public support for Black Lives. 2020 even saw Jamie Dimon take a knee with staff at a Chase bank in an apparent performance of solidarity with racial justice organizers and the Black Lives Matter movement. Yet, according to a Post study conducted in 2021, most of these companies’ facial commitments to solidarity began and ended with “loans or investments they could stand to profit from.” And, despite these companies’ public posturing, they have actually spent their time and money in the years since 2020 continuing to back anti-protest bills, supporting the Atlanta Police Foundation – the funding and ownership interest in the Atlanta Public Safety Training Center, otherwise known as Cop City – and other police organizations like it, aiding the indemnification of police from responsibility for their racialized and classed violence, and otherwise sustaining systems of racial and environmental terror.
In fact, many of these same corporations, JPMorgan Chase, Coca-Cola, AT&T, and Home Depot, all included, have spent the past few years supporting APF and Cop City, while also ushering funds to Chris Carr’s own campaigns, a fact that also calls into question Carr’s personal motivations in his pursuit of this extreme prosecution.
All of the following corporations sit on the APF board and saw donations to Chris Carr in 2021 or 2022:
|COMPANY:||APF ASSOCIATION:||CARR DONORS:||MISC. NOTES:|
|Delta Airlines||Tad Hutcheson, Managing Director of Community Engagement at Delta and Senior Vice President of the Delta Air Lines Foundation, sits on APF’s Board of Trustees.||Delta’s Chief Legal Officer and Executive Vice President of External Affairs, Peter Carter, donated $2000 to Carr in 2021. |
Jeffrey N. Davidman, a Vice President for State and Local Government Affairs for Delta, donated another $1000 in 2021.
David Werner, Director of State and Local Government Affairs for Delta, gave Carr another $1000 in 2021.
Heather Wingate, Delta’s Senior Vice President for Government Affairs, donated another $500 in 2021.
Delta’s PAC donated $7600 to Carr in 2022.
|David Werner is a revolver from the Georgia Governor’s office, and served previously on the state’s “Sovereign Immunity,” “Administrative Procedure Act,” and “Business Court” subcommittees with Chris Carr while in government.|
Heather Wingate is also one of DC’s top lobbyists.
|Synovus Financial||Allan Kamensky, General Counsel and Executive Vice President of Synovus, sits on APF’s Board of Trustees.||Kevin S. Blair, President and CEO of Synovus, gave $1000 to Carr in 2021.|
Allan Kamensky, Synovus’ Executive Vice President and General Counsel, sent another $1000 that year.
Kessel D. Stelling Jr., is Synovus’ now retired Executive Chairman and CEO, gave Carr $5000 in 2021. Stelling also gave Carr an additional $2600 later that year.
Synovus Financial Corp.’s State Fund For Effective Leadership also gave Carr $2500 in 2021.
|Synovus’ Allan Kamensky is both a Carr donor and a member of APF’s board.|
|Invesco||Mark Guiliano, Senior Managing Director and Chief Administrative Officer for Invesco, sits on APF’s Executive Committee.||William Blaise Warren, Invesco’s Chief Operating Officer, gave Carr $100 in 2021.||Guiliano was formerly a Deputy Director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation.|
|Troutman Sanders (Also known as Troutman Pepper)||Chuck Palmer, a Partner at Troutman Pepper, sits on APF’s Board of Trustees.||Robert F. Willis III, Chairman of Troutman Sanders Strategies, gave Carr $3000 in 2021. |
Charles Peeler, a Partner with the group, gave another $2000 that year.
Ragen Marsh, a Principal with Troutman Pepper Strategies, gave Carr another $1000.
William Brinkley Dickerson Jr., another Partner, gave another $500 that year.
Troutman Pepper Hamilton Sanders LLP., also gave Carr $1000 in 2021.
|Charles Peeler is the former U.S. Attorney for the Middle District of Georgia under Donald Trump, former employee of King & Spalding, and a longtime friend of Chris Carr.|
|Jones Day||Bryan Davis, a Partner at Jones Day, sits on APF’s Executive Committee.||Brian Lea, a Partner with Jones Day, gave Carr $3500 in 2021. |
Ryan Walsh, a Partner with Jones Day, gave Carr $1000 in 2021.
Victoria Powell, an Associate with Jones Day, gave Carr $1000 in 2021.
Bryan Davis,a Partner at Jones Day, also gave Carr $1000 in 2021.
John Allan, also an attorney with Jones Day, gave Carr $500 in 2021.
|Jones Day’s Bryan Davis is both a Carr donor and a member of APF’s Executive Committee.|
|King & Spalding, LLP||Josh Kamin, Managing Partner of King & Spalding’s Atlanta Office, sits on APF’s Executive Committee.||William Calvin Smith III, a Partner at the firm donated $3500 to Carr’s campaign in cash, and another $2500 “in-kind” (listed as event catering) in 2021. |
Letitia McDonald, a Partner at King & Spalding gave Carr $1000 in 2021.
Michael Edward Paulhus, another Partner with the firm, gave Carr another $500.
Sarah R. Borders, another Partner at the firm, gave an additional $250.
|Colliers International||Nathan B. Knowles, an Executive Managing Director and Principal at Colliers International, sits on APF’s Board of Trustees. |
Robert (Bob) Mathews, an Executive Chairman at Colliers International, sits on APF’s Emeritus Board.
|David Sink is a Principal at Colliers International and donated $1000 to Carr in 2021. Sink gave an additional $2000 to Carr later that year, and another $1000 in 2022. |
In 2021, Robert (Bob) Mathews, an Executive Chairman at Colliers International, gave Carr an additional $2500.
|Colliers’ Robert (Bob) Mathews is both a Carr donor and a member of APF’s Emeritus Board.|
|Alston & Bird||William Jordan, a Partner at Alston & Bird, sits on APF’s Board of Trustees.||Spence Pryor, a Partner with Alston & Bird, donated $7000 to Carr in 2021. |
Richard Hays, Chairman and Managing Partner with Alston & Bird, donated $2500 to Carr in 2021.
William Jordan, a Partner at Alston & Bird, also donated $2500 to Carr in 2021.
Grant Stein, Senior Counsel at Alston & Bird, donated $1000 to Carr in 2021.
Keith Blackwell, Senior Counsel at the firm, donated $500 to Carr in 2021.
Charlie Morgan, another firm Partner, donated $250 to Carr in 2021.
|William Jordan is both a Carr donor and a member of APF’s Board of Trustees.|
William Jordan is also a Bush-era Department of Justice revolver, and was formerly Senior Counsel to the Assistant Attorney General in DOJ’s Civil Division as well as the Senior Counsel to the Associate Attorney General of the U.S.
Keith Blackwell is a former Georgia state Supreme Court Justice – who reportedly “teamed up” with Carr during his judicial tenure to undermine citizens’ democratic rights in the election of judges.
Chris Carr is also an alumnus of Alston & Bird.
|Georgia Power Company||Lisa Smith, Senior Vice President of Region External Affairs and Community Engagement for Georgia Power, sits on APF’s Board of Trustees.|
Holly Lovett, a PR and Media Relations Manager at Southern Company Gas (which owns Georgia Power), sits on APF’s Young Executives Board.
Christopher Anderson, a data science principal at Georgia Power, sits on APF’s Young Executives Board.
|Chris Cummiskey, was formerly Vice President of External Affairs for the Georgia Power Company, and donated $942.55 and $4057.45 at separate times to Carr in 2021. Cummiskey also donated $1057.45 “in-kind” (listed as event catering) that same year. Cummiskey is now the Chairman and CEO of Southern Power, which owns Georgia Power.||Chris Carr succeeded Chris Cummiskey as the commissioner of the Georgia Department of Economic Development in 2013.|
|Eversheds Sutherland||Mark D. Wasserman, the Managing Partner of Eversheds Sutherland (US) LLP and the Co-Chief Executive Officer of Eversheds Sutherland Limited, sits on APF’s Board of Trustees.||Rocco Testani is a Partner and Co-Head of Global Litigation at Eversheds Sutherland, and donated $1000 to Carr in 2021. |
|National Distributing Company||Chris Carlos, a Partner at National Distributing Company, sits on APF’s Board of Trustees. |
Jay Davis, previous Chairman and CEO of National Distributing Company and a current partner and board member at RNDC (National Distributing Company), also donated $100 thousand to the Public Safety First Campaign (an APF fund contributing to Cop City).
|Jay Davis, previous Chairman and CEO of National Distributing Company and a current partner and board member at RNDC (National Distributing Company), donated $7000 and $5250 on the same day, but separately, to Carr in 2021.||Jay Davis is both an individual Carr donor and a donor to the APF’s Public Safety First Campaign (an APF fund contributing to Cop City.)|
|Waffle House, Inc.||Walt Ehmer, the Chief Executive Officer for Waffle House, Inc. and President at Waffle House, Inc., sits on APF’s Executive Committee.||Waffle House, Inc. donated $8200 to Carr in 2021 and 2022.|
|United Parcel Service (UPS)||Norm Brothers, the Executive Vice President (EVP) and Chief Legal and Compliance Officer at UPS, sits on APF’s Board of Trustees. |
UPS also donated $1 million to the Public Safety First Campaign (an APF fund contributing to Cop City).
|UPS’s Political Action Committee donated $8200 to Carr in 2021 and 2022.|
|AT&T||Venessa Harrison, the President of AT&T’s Southeast Coastal States, sits on APF’s Board of Trustees.||AT&T’s Georgia Political Action Committee donated $7600 to Carr in 2021 and 2022.|
|The Home Depot||Daniel Grider, the Vice President of Technology & Head of Infrastructure and Operations at The Home Depot, sits on APF’s Board of Trustees.||Suzanne Russo, Assistant General Counsel at Home Depot, donated $2000 to Carr in 2021. |
The Home Depot’s Political Action Committee also donated $7600 to Carr in 2021.
|JPMorgan Chase||John Ritchert, JPMorgan’s head of Regional Investment Banking, sits on APF’s Board of Trustees.||JPMorgan Chase donated $5000 to Carr in 2022.|
|The Coca-Cola Company||The Coca-Cola Company does not have a seat on any APF board’s, but did donate $1 million to the Public Safety First Campaign (an APF fund that contributes to Cop City).||Coca-Cola’s former Senior Vice President and a member of the Executive Committee, and Senior Advisor to the CEO, Clyde C. Tuggle, donated $2000 to Carr in 2021. |
Coke’s former Director of Government Relations, and current Senior Director of Government Relations at the Southern Company – Eugene M. Rackley IV – donated $250 to Carr in 2021.
The Chief Financial Officer of Coca-Cola’s McDonald’s Division in North America – Gordon Burnett – donated $1000 to Carr in 2021.
Coke’s Senior Director of Global Strategy, Nicholas Johnson, donated another $1000 to Carr in 2021.
With this indictment, Chris Carr is functionally selling the broad authorities of his office, and mortgaging Georgians’ democratic rights, to these same deep-pocketed corporate oligarchs with vested financial interests in the maintenance of systemic racism, violent policing systems, and the vicious suppression of the climate movement and protestors.
Chris Carr and his corporate cronies are attempting to use and abuse the Georgia State Attorney General’s office for their own financial and political enrichment, while simultaneously stripping citizens nationwide of their democratic rights to protest and making Georgia’s own taxpayers foot the sure-to-be-enormous bill. Those fundamental facts are at the core of this indictment, and Chris Carr – in his office and in his actions – must be contextualized within the rot that is inherent to all that he does, and, as he gears up for a 2026 gubernatorial bid, all that he hopes to.