A suspected Antifa activist charged with domestic terrorism over riots in Atlanta is an attorney for the hard-left Southern Poverty Law Center.
Thomas Webb Jurgens, 28, is one of 23 people who were detained after violent clashes between police and protesters at the construction site for the Atlanta Public Safety Training Center.
Fireworks and Molotov cocktails were used to attack police and destroy construction equipment and machinery during the riots on Sunday. Activists have spent months staging demonstrations against the police facility which they dub ‘Cop City’.
Jurgens joined the SPLC in September 2021 and worked on its Economic Justice Project, according to his LinkedIn page. He has also worked as an assistant public defender and a legal intern at a US attorney’s office in Florida.
The LinkedIn page includes a professional photo of Jurgens with neatly-styled hair and a suit and tie. The picture is a marked contrast to the mugshot released by police on Monday that shows him sullen-faced in a green sweater with long, unkempt hair and stubble.
The 23 Antifa ‘terrorists’ who were arrested after violent clashes at the construction site for a police training facility in Atlanta dubbed ‘Cop City’. Thomas Webb Jurgens (bottom row, second from left) is an attorney for the Southern Poverty Law Center
Atlanta Police Foundation President and CEO Dave Wilkinson surveys the damage at the site of the proposed Atlanta Public Safety Training facility following vandalism by protestors in Atlanta, Georgia, U.S., March 6, 2023
The aftermath of the ‘Cop City’ protests on March 6. 23 people have been charged with domestic terrorism
His social media profiled also detail an impressive academic career, which included a term at the prestigious University of Oxford, in England, and a Juris Doctor from the University of Georgia School of Law.
The Southern Poverty Law Center is a social justice organization which describes its goals as to ‘dismantle white supremacy, strengthen intersectional movements, and advance the human rights of all people’. Republican activists claim the SPLC is a ‘radical’ left-wing and ‘anti-Christian’ organization.
Jurgens and 22 other activists from as far away as France and Canada have now been charged with domestic terrorism after the riots at the police training facility.
The 23 ‘Antifa terrorists’ charged in Atlanta
- Jack Beaman, 22, of Georgia
- Ayla King, 18, of Massachusetts
- Kamryn Pipes, 27, of Louisiana
- Maggie Gates, 25, of Indiana
- Ehret Nottingham, 22, of Colorado
- Alexis Paplai, 48, of Massachusetts
- Timothy Bilodeau, 25, of Massachusetts
- Victor Puertas, 46, of Utah
- Dimitri LeNy, 25, of France
- Amin Chaoui, 31, of Virginia
- James Marsicano, 29, of North Carolina
- Samuel Ward, 26, of Arizona
- Max Biederman, 25, of Arizona
- Mattia Luini, 30, of New York
- Emma Bogush, 24, of Connecticut
- Kayley Meissner, 19, of Wisconsin
- Luke Harper, 27, of Florida
- Grace Martin, 22, of Wisconsin
- Colin Dorsey, 42, of Maine
- Fredrique Robert-Paul, 34, of Canada
- Zoe Larmey, 25, of Tennessee
- Thomas Jurgens, 28, of Georgia
- Priscilla Grim, 49, of New York
Atlanta Police Department released details of the suspects on Monday. The individuals are mostly men and women from outside of Georgia, indicating a concerted effort to bring in outside help for the action.
A statement from Atlanta PD said: ‘On March 5, 2023, a group of violent agitators used the cover of a peaceful protest of the proposed Atlanta Public Safety Training Center to conduct a coordinated attack on construction equipment and police officers.
‘They changed into black clothing and entered the construction area and began to throw large rocks, bricks, Molotov cocktails, and fireworks at police officers.
‘The agitators destroyed multiple pieces of construction equipment by fire and vandalism. Multiple law enforcement agencies deployed to the area and detained several people committing illegal activity.’
Police said 35 ‘agitators’ were detained. It wasn’t immediately clear whether the remaining 12 also face charges.
Police added: ‘The illegal actions of the agitators could have resulted in bodily harm. Officers exercised restraint and used non-lethal enforcement to conduct arrests.
‘With protests planned for the coming days, the Atlanta Police Department, in collaboration with law enforcement partners, have a multi-layered strategy that includes reaction and arrest.
‘The Atlanta Police Department asks for this week’s protests to remain peaceful.’
Atlanta Police Foundation President and CEO Dave Wilkinson visited the scene on Monday to survey the damage.
Dramatic footage released by the Atlanta Police Department on Sunday night showed nearly 150 masked rioters break into the construction site and aim fireworks at police.
Some of the group could later be seen gathering riot shields. Once they were together, they started throwing Molotov cocktails at a construction vehicle and ran away as it was left on fire. Other videos posted online showed a police surveillance tower on fire, sending smoke billowing into the sky.
The dramatic confrontation between police and protesters comes as individuals and activist organizations descend on the proposed site for a ‘week of action’ to protest its development.
‘This is the first week of action since the state killed someone,’ Marlon Kautz, an organizer with Atlanta Solidarity Fund told The Guardian, referring to the police-involved killing of Manuel Paez Teran in January.
The burned out shell of a construction vehicle after the violent riots at Atlanta’s ‘Cop City’
Protesters have been camped in forests around the construction site and launching regular efforts to halt the project
A picture of the aftermath after violent clashes between rioters and police on Sunday, March 6
Atlanta Police Foundation President and CEO Dave Wilkinson surveys the damage
A private autopsy showed he was shot 13 times.
Authorities have asserted Teran — who identified as nonbinary — opened fire at a Georgia State Patrol trooper during a ‘clearing operation’ of the so-called autonomous zone at the site of the $90million project.
Demonstrators, who have set up a group called ‘Stop Cop City’, say the 381 acres of Weelaunee Forest is ‘stolen Muscogee land’ and that the creation would mean the destruction of wildlife and forestry.
They have become increasingly violent since they first descended on the woods last spring, with 19 people arrested on domestic terrorism charges since December.Stop Cop City activists also say that the City of Atlanta has ‘leased’ the land – something the Mayor’s office has denied, saying that the City in unincorporated DeKalb County owns it.