The Florida Bar Association has said it is investigating a lawyer who was part of a group of activists that attacked the site of a planned police training center in Atlanta on March 5 and were subsequently arrested.
Thomas Webb Jurgens, a 28-year-old employee at the nonprofit legal advocacy organization, Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC), was among 23 people arrested on charges of domestic terrorism following the demonstration at the 85-acre police and fire training facility currently under construction.
Activists have been protesting—often peacefully—at the site that they have dubbed “Cop City” for months.
However, Sunday’s demonstrations quickly turned violent, with some of the activists throwing Molotov cocktails at officers, setting fire to construction equipment, and vandalizing the area.
Of the 23 individuals arrested and charged, Jurgens was the only one to be released from prison on a $5,000 bond this week.
The Florida Bar confirmed he is under investigation in a statement to Fox News.
“The Bar can confirm that there is an open case on the matter,” a spokesperson told the publication. “Florida Bar disciplinary cases are confidential, so we cannot provide further comment.”
Florida Bar Rules of Discipline
The spokesperson added that “generally, once notified that a Bar member has been arrested or charged, the Bar reviews the criminal case for appropriate action.”
According to the Florida Bar’s lawyer directory, Jurgens graduated from the University of Georgia School of Law and is licensed to practice law in Florida. He is listed on the bar’s website as being in good standing.
The spokesperson directed Fox News to the bar’s rules of discipline (pdf).
The rules state that a “determination or judgment by a court of competent jurisdiction that a member of The Florida Bar is guilty of any crime or offense that is a felony under the laws of that court’s jurisdiction is cause for automatic suspension from the practice of law in Florida unless the judgment or order is modified or stayed by the Supreme Court of Florida, as provided in these rules.”
Additionally, the rules note that a member of the bar could face disciplinary action “regardless of whether the respondent has been tried, acquitted, or convicted in a court for an alleged criminal misdemeanor or felony offense.”
“If a respondent is acquitted in a criminal proceeding that acquittal is not a bar to disciplinary proceedings. Likewise, the findings, judgment, or decree of any court in civil proceedings is not necessarily binding in disciplinary proceedings,” the rules note.
According to a statement from the Atlanta Police Department, 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,” on March 5.
Demonstrators Throw Molotov Cocktails, Fireworks
“They changed into black clothing and entered the construction area and began to throw large rocks, bricks, Molotov cocktails, and fireworks at police officers,” police said.
Some of the violent demonstrators “destroyed multiple pieces of construction equipment by fire and vandalism” before law enforcement agencies arrived at the area and detained several people, according to police.
Video footage released by the police shows a piece of construction equipment set on fire at the site and law enforcement officers frantically trying to close a gate while under attack from a group of men.
“The illegal actions of the agitators could have resulted in bodily harm. Officers exercised restraint and used non-lethal enforcement to conduct arrests,” police said while calling for upcoming protests in the area to remain peaceful.
After Jurgens was released on bail, SPLC issued a statement confirming that he was an employee of the nonprofit and said he was arrested by police at the demonstration while “volunteering as a legal observer on behalf of the National Lawyers Guild.”
“As we previously stated, Tom was performing a public service, documenting potential violations of protesters’ rights,” the organization said. “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 Epoch Times has contacted the Florida Bar Association and Jurgens for comment.