Atlanta Solidarity Fund organizer speaks out after police raid, calls charges ‘backed by politics’

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 organizers with the Atlanta Solidarity Fund were recently granted bond following a multi-agency raid that ended with their arrests for alleged charity fraud and money laundering.

Since 2016, the nonprofit has primarily worked to provide bail and legal assistance to arrested protesters, including those opposing Atlanta’s planned public safety training center. The charges came just days before the city council’s training center funding vote and also drew scrutiny from some of Georgia’s congressional delegation.

On Wednesday’s edition of “Closer Look,” organizer Marlon Scott Kautz defended the fund’s work and called the charges politically motivated, citing the presiding judge’s own skepticism of the case.

“Even the first judge to look at these cases during the first bond hearing acknowledged, straight away, that he was not impressed,” Kautz said. “These charges aren’t backed by evidence, they’re backed by politics.”

Kautz also shared his perspective as the raid unfolded, which he says started with police breaking down the front door with a battery ram.

“When I woke up, my first thought was this must be some kind of mistake,” said Kautz. “They had come prepared to shoot and, potentially, kill.”