ATLANTA - Three people connected to protests at the site of the planned Atlanta Public Safety Training Center have been arrested on charges of money laundering and charity fraud.
The Georgia Bureau of Investigation announced the arrests Wednesday morning in conjunction with the Atlanta Police Department.
Marlon Scott Kautz, 39, of Atlanta, Savannah D. Patterson, 30, of Savannah, and Adele Maclean, 42, of Atlanta, were all charged with money laundering and charity fraud.
Marlon Scott Kautz, 39 (DeKalb County Sheriff's Office)
Atlanta Police released the following statement on Wednesday:
"Today’s executed search warrant and subsequent arrests stem from an ongoing investigation that is being jointly prosecuted by the GBI and the DeKalb District Attorney’s office. Additional details and questions pertaining to the ongoing investigation should be directed to those entities. APD officers were involved in the serving of the search warrant and arrest, as is customary for departments with local jurisdiction to be involved."
The GBI says the arrests stem "from the ongoing investigation of individuals responsible for numerous criminal acts at the future site of the Atlanta Public Safety Training Center."
Opponents of the training facility, which they have dubbed "Cop City", said the three are organizers with the Atlanta Solidarity Fund, a non-profit organization and bail fund founded to provide legal support to anyone arrested while engaging in protest.
"I think that it is a really frightening and dangerous escalation by the police, by Mayor Andre Dickens, by Governor Brian Kemp against the right to protest and not just the right to protest but the ability to support those who have been criminalized for protesting," said community activist Micah Herskind.
Agents and officers executed a search warrant and found evidence linking the three suspects to the financial crimes, according to the GBI.
Authorities say all three individuals will be booked into a local jail and will have a bond hearing scheduled "soon."
FOX 5 cameras were there as law enforcement appeared to raid a home in east Atlanta.
Billy Heath/FOX 5 Atlanta
Late Thursday, the Department of Homeland Security released a statement clarifying information released in the warrants for the three arrestees:
"The Department of Homeland Security does not classify or designate any groups as domestic violent extremists. We use the term domestic violent extremism to refer to the conduct of groups or individuals in the United States who seek to advance their ideological goals through the unlawful use of violence and the term domestic violent extremist to refer generally to individuals based and operating primarily in the United States or its territories without direction or inspiration from a foreign terrorist group or other foreign power who seeks to further social or political goals, wholly or in part, through unlawful acts of force or violence. The mere advocacy of a particular political or social view/position, political activity, or the use of strong rhetoric does not constitute domestic violent extremism. The Department is committed to preventing all forms of terrorism and targeted violence, and does so in ways that protect privacy, civil rights, and civil liberties, and that adhere to all applicable laws. To that end, DHS regularly shares information regarding the heightened threat environment with federal, state, local, tribal, and territorial officials to ensure the safety and security of all communities across the country."
The GBI responded to that statement writing that "although DHS reports that they do not classify or designate any groups as domestic violent extremists, the description provided by DHS for a domestic violent extremist does in fact describe the behavior of the individuals of the group in question which is being investigated by the GBI multi-agency task force."