Bail granted for Atlanta Solidarity Fund members arrested for helping 'Cop City' protesters

This house in Edgewood neighborhood is where police arrested three key organizers who have been aiding protesters against the city's proposed public safety training center on May 31, 2023, Atlanta, Georgia. The three are officers of the group that runs the Atlanta Solidarity Fund, which has bailed out people arrested during protests against the project, which opponents derisively call "Cop City." (AP Photo/Kate Brumback)

Three people who were arrested for their involvement in raising bail and other support funds for protesters of Atlanta’s proposed Public Safety Training Facility will be released on bail.

On Wednesday, Marlon Kautz, Savannah Patterson and Adele Maclean were arrested by the Georgia Bureau of Investigation and Atlanta Police at their residence. GBI issued warrants accusing the three of charity fraud and money laundering. 

Kautz, Patterson and Maclean run the Atlanta Solidarity Fund, a nonprofit that raises money to help people who have been arrested while protesting through bail funds, hiring attorneys, and food and housing assistance, among other things. 

This combo of booking photos provided by the DeKalb County, Ga., Sheriff’s Office shows, from left, Marlon Scott Kautz, 39, of Atlanta; Adele MacLean, 42, of Atlanta; and Savannah D. Patterson, 30, of Savannah. Police on Wednesday, May 31, 2023, arrested the three Atlanta organizers who have been aiding protesters against the city’s proposed police and fire training center, striking at the structure that supports the fight against what opponents derisively call “Cop City.” They are charged with money laundering and charity fraud. (DeKalb County Sheriff’s Office via AP)

Atlanta Solidarity Fund has been formally raising money for protesters’ bail as far back as 2016, when it helped people who were arrested while protesting white supremacist activity at Stone Mountain. Since December, the group has fundraised to bail out protesters of the so-called “Cop City” project who face rarely used domestic terrorism charges.

At the bond hearing on Friday, deputy attorney general John Fowler said there has been an ongoing investigation into the group for at least two years, including looking through financial records and garbage cans from the house. 

He said the three “harbor extremist anti-government and anti-establishment views” and drew a complex web alleging the fund is directly involved in protest because it has paid for things like materials for signs, camping gear and gas. The state’s case also alleges people who donated to the Atlanta Solidarity Fund were unaware their money was used for these purposes. 

Don Samuel, the attorney representing members of the Fund, pointed out the state’s case seemed to conflate all protest-related crimes with those who fundraise to bail those protesters out of jail. 

“The notion that the Atlanta Solidarity Fund should somehow be responsible for everything that goes over the line seems unbelievably unjust,” Samuel said. “You can hate the government and not end up spending time in the DeKalb County Jail.”

Judge James Altman is presiding over the case. He’s also involved in hearing some of the domestic terrorism cases levied against protesters of the police training facility.

“I don’t find it real impressive,” he said. “There’s not a lot of meat on the bones of thousands of dollars going to fund illegal activities.”

Altman issued bail at $15,000 per person.