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SPLC Statement on Release of Legal Observer

ATLANTA — Today, an employee at the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC), who was arrested while volunteering as a legal observer on behalf of the National Lawyers Guild (NLG), was released on bail. SPLC President and CEO Margaret Huang issued the following statement in response to the employee’s release:

“We are pleased that the DeKalb County assistant district attorney (ADA) agreed to a consent bond for Tom Jurgens. As we previously stated, Tom was performing a public service, documenting potential violations of protesters’ rights. We are outraged that police officers present at the protest refused to acknowledge Tom’s role as a legal observer and instead chose to arrest him. We are confident that the evidence will demonstrate he was a peaceful legal observer.

“The SPLC will continue to defend the civil and human rights of all people. We will continue to reject violence wherever and whenever it occurs. We urge law enforcement officials in Atlanta to de-escalate violence and avoid excessive use of force against protesters.

“The SPLC is known and respected for tracking and exposing far-right extremism and hate. Extremists will exploit any opportunity to criticize us because we are committed to exposing their hateful ideology. We will continue to expose and take on the most extreme, racist actors in our country and to defend the rights of all people — including protesters — to express themselves peacefully. Challenging far-right extremists is critical to our charge to dismantle white supremacy, strengthen intersectional movements and advance the human rights of all people.”