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Drop the charges against anti-Klan protester Joshua Taft

Youth arrested while protesting the KKK at Stone Mountain GA
By Raymond Franklin |
April 30, 2016
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Anti Klan protester Josh Taft
Anti Klan protester Josh Taft (Fight Back! News/Staff)

Savannah, GA - Anti-racist activists are demanding charges be dropped against Joshua Taft, arrested while protesting the Klu Klux Klan. On April 23, over 400 anti-racist activists descended upon Stone Mountain, Georgia to protest about a dozen white supremacists and Klan members.

Police arrested nine anti-racist activists before noon, according to John Bankhead, spokesman for the Stone Mountain Park Police. Eight of the activists were charged by police for wearing hoods and masks with the intention to conceal their identity. Meanwhile, none of the Klansmen or white supremacists were arrested or charged, though also wearing hoods and masks. 

The 21-year-old Taft was arrested as he stood near a barricade away from police. Heavily armed and wearing riot gear, police shot Taft twice with rubber bullets and then manhandled the Savannah youth. Taft was sent to DeKalb County jail and charged with aggravated assault. He appeared before a DeKalb County magistrate the following day.

Authorities are accusing Taft of throwing smoke grenades at law enforcement officials, as they stood protecting white supremacists and Klansmen from the anti-racist protest. Despite the accusations made by the police, videos and statements posted on various social media outlets contradict the official narrative. One eyewitness said, “It was not, could not, have been the accused. I am certain it wasn’t Joshua Taft.”

Phoenix Godwin, who protested the KKK at Stone Mountain, saw Taft putting out a small fire. He said, “Taft acted swiftly to end the fire due to his deeply held ecological concerns. Taft was even punched in the face by someone for desperately trying to put out the flames.”

As officers overwhelmed Taft, the crowd chanted, “Fuck the police!” He did not resist arrest. Protesters think police are trying to make an example of Taft in order to discourage future anti-racist protests in the state of Georgia. If convicted, Taft could face 20 years in federal prison.

Activists from across the country are calling for solidarity. Taft was released from jail on a $2500 bond, but faces a long legal process and trial. If you have any information regarding Taft’s innocence or would like to donate for his legal fees, contact [email protected].