Two activists arrested Sunday on domestic terrorism charges for the “Cop City” terror attack in Georgia have links to the National Lawyers Guild (NLG), a radical left-wing legal group that defends Antifa extremists and provides support and training to activists involved in and arrested for protest actions.
The NLG has a history of supporting controversial movements, some of its past members later boasted affiliations with militant groups, and it explicitly supports abolishing police and prisons.
The Atlanta Police Department named the 23 activists it arrested for domestic terrorism on Monday after a protest of the proposed 85-acre Atlanta Public Safety Training Center, labeled by opponents as “Cop City,” turned into a violent assault on law enforcement. The individuals arrested conducted a coordinated attack on construction equipment and police officers at the site east of Atlanta, using large rocks, bricks, Molotov cocktails and fireworks.
Among those arrested was Georgia-based Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) staff attorney Tom Jurgens, who the SPLC identified as a legal observer for the NLG. North Carolina resident James Marsicano, who goes by “Jamie” and identifies as a “White trans femme organizer,” was also arrested. Marsicano, a past organizer for Charlotte Uprising, a group that fights for a “world without police or prisons,” was previously arrested for assaulting a police officer in 2020 following the death of George Floyd. He also has ties to the NLG.
The NLG named Marsicano as a 2022 Hayward Burns Fellow, which sponsors law students and legal workers to spend the summer working for public interest organizations nationwide, according to a February 2022 post on its website. In an Instagram post from that month, the University of North Carolina law school’s NLG student chapter also identified him as a board member in an advertisement for an “important conversation” on abolishing police and prisons.
The SPLC and NLG, meanwhile, both rushed to the defense of Jurgens and the domestic terror suspects by shifting the blame to the police.
“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 said in a statement. “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 NLG said the arrests were “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.” They also stated its legal observers, including Jurgens, serve essential roles supporting protesters.
The SPLC and the NLG have also come to the defense of so-called “anti-fascists” – or Antifa – in the past. When President Trump pledged he would designate Antifa as a terrorist organization in 2020, the SPLC – which for years has lumped conservative groups in with the likes of the Ku Klux Klan and then faced upheaval over staffer charges of a “systematic culture of racism and sexism” within its own ranks – condemned the move, saying it was rooted in politics, “dangerous” and “threatens civil liberties.”
The NLG, likewise, came out against the idea, saying that Antifa has no leaders and is not a formal organization, adding, “although activists who identify with the term often favor direct action instead of policy reform, as well as autonomous mutual aid.”
“The NLG will continue to oppose any attempts to exploit this crisis to repress political activism and social justice movements working to end to white supremacy,” the NLG said in a February 2020 statement. “The Trump administration continues to ignore the ongoing injustice wrought on Black communities by institutional racism, including police brutality, in favor of seeking to physically or politically punish those who are part of anti-racist and anti-fascist movements.”
The NLG’s work goes beyond issuing statements defending Antifa; they also support the far-left activists by providing critical legal support.
“Taking militant and confrontational direct action may not be possible for everyone; however, these tactics are a crucial part of the fight against fascism,” the group wrote in a 2017 post. “The NLG will continue to support anti-fascists and anti-racists in the street and in the courts, and will not be swayed by the argument that hateful, dangerous speech should be tolerated at any cost. Legal professionals concerned about the rising levels of hate and prejudice in the country right now need to vigorously support all organized resistance movements.”
Scott Walter, president of the Capital Research Center, told Fox News Digital that the National Lawyers Guild’s “century of support for violent insurrection has led it to effectively become Antifa’s legal arm, shielding rioters from justice.”
“The parallel rise of membership in both groups reveals their collusion – and their growing threat to American democracy,” Walter said.
The NLG, founded in 1937 as a counter-institution to the American Bar Association, has had some members later linked to militant groups.
Bernardine Dohrn, who was elected student organizer at the NLG’s 1967 convention in New York, co-founded the Weather Underground in the late 1960s alongside her future husband, Bill Ayers. The militant group conducted at least 25 bombings between 1969 and 1975, and the FBI designated it a terrorist organization and added Dohrn to its Most Wanted list.
Following the convictions of former Weather Underground members Kathy Boudin and David Gilbert for their roles in the 1981 Brinks robbery that left an armed guard and two police officers dead, Dohn and Ayers took custody of Boudin and Gilbert’s son, Chesa Boudin, who later became San Francisco’s district attorney before being ousted from office in the 2022 recall election.
Some lawyers who financially aided Weather Underground were also reportedly NLG members, according to InfluenceWatch.
Within the past few years, the NLG has adopted resolutions supporting abolishing the police and prisons, which they define as “prisons; jails; police lockups; juvenile detention facilities; immigration detention facilities; and hospitals or nursing homes where people are held against their will for civil commitment, psychiatric treatment, or quarantine.”
The driving mission of the group is using “the law for the people, uniting lawyers, law students, legal workers, and jailhouse lawyers to function as an effective force in the service of the people by valuing human rights and the rights of ecosystems over property interests,” according to its website.
Their network consists of more than 100 student chapters at law schools across the country and 20 national committees, including anti-racism, environmental justice, mass incarceration, and a “queer caucus.”
The NLG did not respond to a Fox News Digital request for comment.