Statement from Southern Center for Human Rights Regarding the Arrest of Legal Observer
On Sunday, March 5, a legal observer from the National Lawyers Guild was arrested at the site of a music festival held as part of the Week of Action to stop Cop City. Despite wearing a bright green hat that marked him as a legal observer, he was arrested and charged with domestic terrorism, along with 22 other people. This is not the first time that Atlanta Police Department operations have targeted legal observers—two National Lawyers Guild legal observers were arrested during the 2020 uprisings after being kettled in Centennial Olympic Park amid then-Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms’ curfew.
The Southern Center for Human Rights has for decades supported the right to dissent, and legal observers play a crucial role in bearing witness to potential state violence at protests and demonstrations. When even legal observers are not safe from indiscriminate arrest, we must be clear about what is happening: this is dangerous escalation by police toward the community, and this aggression underscores the harm that would be perpetuated by Cop City. SCHR calls for the charges against all the protesters and the legal observer to be dropped, and for an independent investigation into the police killing of Manuel ‘Tortugita’ Teran.