A prominent activist with the anti-police extremist group “Stop Cop City” was arrested and charged last week in Georgia after he allegedly stole a vehicle, crashed into other vehicles, then ran from the scene, according to authorities.
Matthew V. Johnson, 33, of Atlanta, Georgia has been charged with theft by taking, reckless driving, and hit-and-run, jail records show.
Johnson is accused of stealing a Mercedes-Benz from Express Oil Change and Tire Engineers on Sept. 29.
He then went on a rampage and crashed the stolen vehicle into multiple vehicles before running from the scene.
Police were able to catch up to Johnson and took him into custody, according to WSB-TV.
Authorities say multiple people were injured by Johnson in the incident.
WESB-TV reported on "Stop Cop City" leader "Rev." Matthew Johnson being involved in a car theft & ramming into multiple vehicles on the road in a high-speed chase. Johnson is the executive director of Beloved Community Ministries, a BLM-style nonprofit. pic.twitter.com/wgogkLyM5x
— Andy Ngô 🏳️🌈 (@MrAndyNgo) October 4, 2023
Employees at Express Oil Change and Tire Engineers told the outlet that Johnson was at the shop to pick up his SUV when he reached over the counter and stole the keys to another customer’s Mercedes-Benz before paying for the work, surveillance footage shows.
Johnson took off in the stolen vehicle and headed down Moreland Avenue, ramming into multiple vehicles.
Traffic camera footage shows Johnson crashing into a white truck which barrel rolled multiple times before landing into oncoming traffic on the other side of the median.
Authorities say the driver of that vehicle was significantly injured but did not disclose the severity of the injuries.
Moments later, Johnson can be seen on video exiting the stolen vehicle and taking off running. He was arrested by police and transported to Grady Memorial Hospital before he was booked into jail.
Johnson is the executive director of Beloved Community Ministries, a local social justice nonprofit. He has been an outspoken critic of the creation of the Atlanta Public Safety Training Center, which gained notoriety when it became the target of Antifa and other anti-police extremists who have taken up violent measures to stop the facility from being built. The group refers to themselves as “Stop Cop City,” or “Atlanta Forest Defenders.”
In September, authorities charged 61 Antifa militants belonging to these groups with violating the state’s Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (RICO). Individual defendants are also facing other charges related to their particular roles, including terrorism.
The indictment alleges that “the purpose of Defend the Atlanta Forest is to occupy of parts or all of 381 forested acres in DeKalb County, Georgia that is owned by Atlanta Police Foundation and leased by the City of Atlanta to prevent the construction of the Atlanta Public Safety Training Center.”
“Each individual charged in this indictment,” it states, “knowingly joined the conspiracy in an attempt to prevent the training center from being built.”
For months, Antifa members and other far-left extremists wreaked havoc on the area, carrying out numerous violent attacks, setting up potentially deadly booby traps, and generally making it impossible for officials to move forward on the project. The extremist group created an “autonomous zone” in the forest, which resulted in one of their activists being shot and killed by police after he opened fire on officers.
Johnson defended the now-deceased activist who attempted to kill police, saying the justified shooting was “murder” during an appearance on Status Coup News.
"It was a murder—we're dealing w/ [police] that labeled protesters terrorists while they were sitting in trees minding their business," -activist Matthew Johnson on police killing Cop City protester. SC's @TinaDesireeBerg will be ON-THE-GROUND covering this weekend.
— Status Coup News (@StatusCoup) January 20, 2023
In June, Johnson disrupted Atlanta Mayor Andre Dickens’s press brief discussing the police training facility, which was cut short due to the disruption.
BREAKING: Atlanta Mayor Andre Dickens was just confronted over his support for ‘Cop City’ by Reverends Keyanna Jones and Matthew Johnson and a few protesters – Dickens seemed caught off guard & cut his speech short at Fire Station 10 in Grant Park pic.twitter.com/SQwNGD0M1N
— UNICORN RIOT (@UR_Ninja) June 29, 2023