A lawyer for the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) was arrested and charged with domestic terrorism over the violence that broke out in Atlanta on Sunday in relation to protests of a planned training facility for police officers in the city, the SPLC has confirmed.
'An employee at the SPLC was arrested while acting — and identifying — as a legal observer on behalf of the National Lawyers Guild (NLG). The employee is an experienced legal observer, and their arrest is not evidence of any crime, but of heavy-handed law enforcement intervention against protesters,' the SPLC said in a statement on Monday.
Thomas Webb Jurgens was among the list of 23 suspected domestic terrorists released by the Atlanta Police Department on Monday. Violence broke out in Atlanta on Sunday after protesters of a planned police training facility hurled bricks and Molotov cocktails at officers and set cars on fire.
The Atlanta Police Department revealed all the suspects are from out of state or from another country except for two, including Jurgens.
Fox News Digital previously reviewed a LinkedIn account for one Tom Jurgens, earlier on Monday which stated he is a staff attorney for the Southern Poverty Law Center. That LinkedIn account has now apparently been removed.
Fox News Digital also examined The Florida Bar's profile of Jurgens, which shows he graduated from the University of Georgia School of Law in 2019 and currently works for the Southern Poverty Law Center in Decatur, Georgia. Both the Florida Bar website and State Bar of Georgia website also include Jurgens' middle name, Webb, which matches the name of the man arrested on Sunday.
'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 SPLC continued in its statement on Monday.
Jurgens' listed office number went straight to voicemail when Fox News Digital attempted to reach him. Fox News Digital also attempted to reach Jurgens' family members, including one man who appears to be his father and who promptly hung up after stating the reason for the call.
'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 Atlanta PD said in a statement when it released the booking photos for the 23 people charged.
Dubbed 'Cop City' by its detractors, the planned $90 million training complex for law enforcement officers has been the ire of environmentalists and anti-police activists since 2021 when the Atlanta City Council approved the complex in June of that year.
Protesters say the complex will promote the militarization of the police department and destroy the South River Forest.
The Southern Poverty Law Center did not respond to Fox News Digital's requests for comment on the arrest.
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The SPLC describes itself as a 'catalyst for racial justice in the South and beyond, working in partnership with communities to dismantle white supremacy, strengthen intersectional movements, and advance the human rights of all people.'
The group has come under fire for designating mainstream conservative and Christian organizations as 'hate groups,' putting them on a list alongside organizations like the Ku Klux Klan. Back in 2019, a former staffer for the SPLC argued the organization uses its 'hate group' accusations to 'bilk' donors.
In 2012, the Family Research Council, a Christian nonprofit that was labeled a hate group by the SPLC, was targeted by a man who fired a gun in the group's headquarters in Washington, D.C. A security guard managed to subdue him before he could kill anyone.
The man told investigators he was motivated to carry out the attack after seeing FRC listed as an anti-gay group on the Southern Poverty Law Center’s website.