Photo: The protesters were throwing lit fireworks at the police
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For some time, Antifa in Atlanta have been trying to stop construction of a proposed Atlanta Public Safety Training Center. Last Sunday, they used violence. Footage released by the Atlanta Police Department shows a large mob of protesters throwing weapons and attacking officers within their own compound. Officers fled. Some of the protestors just hate the police. Others claim that the training center threatens a forested area.
Atlanta Public Safety Training Center Demonstrations. https://t.co/boTaYkaWvn pic.twitter.com/r6u6Ki3mLt
— Atlanta Police Department (@Atlanta_Police) March 6, 2023
Ariel View – Atlanta Public Safety Training Centerhttps://t.co/69v7LnaGP2 pic.twitter.com/dcocG0mybH
— Atlanta Police Department (@Atlanta_Police) March 6, 2023
Atlanta Police arrested at least 23 people and charged them with domestic terrorism. Only two were from Georgia. Thomas Webb Jurgens was the sole defendant released on bail, set at just $5,000.
#SPLC staff attorney and @NLGnews member Thomas W. Jurgens, who is charged with domestic terrorism over the March 5 #Antifa ambush attack, was granted release on a small $5,000 bond during a court hearing today. https://t.co/dIKBvwgJSr
— Andy Ngô 🏳️🌈 (@MrAndyNgo) March 7, 2023
He is a lawyer for the Southern Poverty Law Center. He claims to have been working as an observer for the National Lawyers Guild, a far-left group that has expressed “solidarity with the movement to Stop Cop City [the derogatory nickname for the training center].”
The SPLC did not just stand by Mr. Jurgens. It attacked the Atlanta police and defended the campaign to stop the training center:
All of these arrests are part of ongoing state repression and violence against racial and environmental justice protesters, who are fighting to defend their communities from the harms of militarized policing and environmental degradation. Each of these instances, including the many protesters charged with domestic terrorism, make clear that law enforcement views movement activists as enemies of the state.
This is part of a months-long escalation of policing tactics against protesters and observers who oppose the destruction of the Weelaunee Forest to build a police training facility. The SPLC has and will continue to urge de-escalation of violence and police use of force against Black, Brown and Indigenous communities — working in partnership with these communities to dismantle white supremacy, strengthen intersectional movements and advance the human rights of all people.
The formulaic talk about “Black, Brown and Indigenous communities” is amusing. The overwhelming majority of protestors and those arrested are white.
The SPLC’s defense of its employee is a notable contrast to countless conservative organizations that promptly surrendered, apologized, and fired their own employees when the SPLC called them.
But what is the SPLC trying to accomplish? Atlanta desperately needs more effective police. The city is suffering from violent crime. Homicides have increased for three straight years. Crime is so bad that the citizens of Buckhead — a wealthy enclave plagued by violence spilling over from the majority non-white city — want to secede and start their own city. Their efforts were stopped by Republican governor Brian Kemp. They are now stuck in a city that fails to protect its residents. In just the last few days, there was a mass shooting at a house party with more than 100 people, and an attempted robbery in which a two-year old was shot.
If Antifa are simply fighting “fascists,” why are they fighting against a police- and fire-department training center for a city that badly needs it. Why did SPLC employee Michael Hayden tweet out #StopCopCity the day after the attack?
Michael Edison Hayden, the spokesperson for #SPLC, tweeted out a chant that was used by the domestic terrorists as they carried out an armed ambush attack in #Atlanta on March 5. I asked him if the SPLC supports the use of violence to achieve political aims. He didn’t answer the… https://t.co/G09lSCOhcI pic.twitter.com/J6b57Xdtp1
— Andy Ngô 🏳️🌈 (@MrAndyNgo) March 8, 2023
There has not been much distance between Antifa and the SPLC, who often share information and work together. The line between the two has increasingly faded. Now, the SPLC now seems to be making an ideological shift, openly identifying with a movement that fights the police, on the grounds of “intersectionality.”
There is the usual claim that Atlanta suffers from “militarized policing,” but all its residents are suffering. El Salvador’s successful campaign against gangs — which cut annual homicides from 1,147 to 496 — shows this is not complicated: Catch the bad guys and lock them up.
The SPLC’s new role is especially strange because its traditional business has been to warn about supposedly dangerous “extremists.” Its articles often have a borderline hysterical tone, suggesting imminent violence. The reason the SPLC claims it tracks “extremist” speech is because it allegedly leads to violence.
For example, in its “Pushing Back Against Hate” report, it claimed:
[S]ome white supremacist propaganda, like the “great replacement” theory — the notion that white people are being systematically replaced by people of color across the world — has become mainstreamed by pundits like Fox News’ Tucker Carlson. . . .
And with that traction comes violence, both physical and political. The white supremacist who in 2019 killed 51 people at two mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand, in fact, left a manifesto titled “The Great Replacement.”
When a gunman who had studied the Southern Poverty Law Center’s “hate reports” attacked the Family Research Center in 2012 and shot a guard, some conservatives said the SPLC was to blame. The SPLC issued its own statement, accusing the Family Research Council of the “outrageous” charge that “offering legitimate and fact-based criticism in a democratic society is tantamount to suggesting that the objects of criticism should be the targets of criminal violence.”
It is outrageous to hold an organization accountable for the violent acts of an unrelated person. But if we agree with the SPLC’s position in 2012, how does the SPLC justify its existence? Why does it blame Tucker Carlson (and people like us) for terrorist attacks?
Besides that, taking a stand against a police training center makes the organization’s reputation as an ally to law enforcement absurd. In Atlanta, the SPLC doesn’t seem to be tracking violent extremists; it’s openly supporting them.
The FBI reportedly stopped working with the SPLC and the Anti-Defamation League in 2014. However, according to documents that were just revealed, the FBI recently cited the group to justify a campaign against “Radical Traditionalist Catholics.” Congressman Jim Jordan has demanded an explanation from FBI Director Christopher Wray.
Law enforcement should punish crime, not speech. It is not the job of the government of a free country to skew public debate and censor critics.
Of course, the federal government does this. It may even still be working with the Southern Poverty Law Center — at a time when it supports violence and doesn’t even pretend to distance itself from left-wing extremism. The SPLC has become exactly that kind of far-left anti-police organization that even many Democrats reject. Reporters who expect to be taken seriously should think twice before they cite it as an authority on anything. A far-left organization that opposes police is in no position to police what Americans say, think, and read.