Police: Investigation focused on Black separatist group

Aug 17, 2022, 10:53 AM | Updated: 11:08 am

FAYETTEVILLE, Ga. (AP) — A Georgia-based Black separatist group is being investigated by federal and local authorities for a range of possible criminal offenses including drug and gun offenses, kidnapping and human trafficking, a detective testified Tuesday in a court hearing in suburban Atlanta.

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports Fayetteville Police investigator Diana Snider testified in magistrate court that she began investigating the Black Hammer Party after the group moved its headquarters to the town south of Atlanta. She said she was contacted by the FBI, which she said is also investigating.

Two members of the group have been charged with felonies relating to an alleged kidnapping and sexual assault in July at the house the group rents in Fayetteville.

A spokesperson for the FBI’s Atlanta office declined to comment citing the agency’s policy not to comment on ongoing investigations.

A federal indictment unsealed last month in Tampa, Florida, alleges the group is involved in an effort by a Russian citizen with Kremlin connections to sow discord in the United States by paying fringe groups to make political protests. The indictment includes groups in Florida and California, as well as the Black Hammer Party, as unindicted co-conspirators to the plot.

Snider said federal agents have been watching the group’s attempts to recruit and arm homeless men as a security force and to aggressively solicit college students for donations at a downtown Atlanta park.

No criminal charges have been brought regarding those activities, the newspaper reported that Snider testified. Tuesday’s hearing relates to a July 19 call to police from a person who claimed he was kidnapped and held at gunpoint in a locked garage at the Fayetteville house.

Black Hammer leader Augustus Claudius Romain Jr., 36, known as Gazi Kodzo and a top lieutenant, 21-year-old Xavier “Keno” Rushin, were charged with kidnapping, aggravated assault, false imprisonment, conspiracy to commit a felony, and taking part in street gang activity.

Romain was also charged with forcible sodomy. Snider testified that Romain required group members to have sex with him to advance within the Black Hammer Party.

Prosecutors dropped conspiracy charges Tuesday. Magistrate Judge Christy Dunkelberger ruled there was enough evidence to advance the other charges to trial. Romain and Rushin remain jailed without bail.

Defense attorneys for Romain and Rushin on Tuesday questioned the information underlying the arrests and asked how a political party qualifies as a street gang. The group claims it’s being targeted by federal authorities for political activities.

The alleged victim of the sexual assault declined to speak to police at the time of the arrests and the alleged kidnapping victim who called police is homeless.

“This entire case appears to arise on the statement of one person,” said Stacey Flynn, the lawyer for Romain, referring to the man who called police.

Fayetteville detective Justin Taylor said the man told police he and another Black Hammer recruit had been forced into a locked garage and held at gunpoint when the victim refused Romain’s order that everyone go to bed at 8 p.m. because the group had a protest the next morning. Taylor testified Romain and another Black Hammer member, 18-year-old Amonte “AP” Adams, held guns.

Adams was found inside the house when police raided, dead of from what police said appeared to be a self-inflicted gunshot wound. The Black Hammer Party has, without evidence, accused police of shooting Adams. Taylor said an autopsy of the man has been completed, but a report is not yet available.

Snider said police and the FBI are investigating three other kidnappings that are alleged to have occurred in the house.

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


American Airlines put an unspecified number of employees on leave for their involvement in an incid...

Associated Press

American Airlines CEO calls removal of Black passengers from Phoenix flight ‘unacceptable’

American Airlines put an unspecified number of employees on leave for their involvement in an incident in which several Black passengers were removed from a flight in Phoenix.

1 day ago

FILE - Crystal Baziel holds the Pan-African flag Monday, June 19, 2023, during Reedy Chapel A.M.E C...

Associated Press

The beginner’s guide to celebrating Juneteenth

For more than one-and-a-half centuries, the Juneteenth holiday has been sacred to many Black communities. It marks the day in 1865 enslaved people in Galveston, Texas found out they had been freed — after the end of the Civil War, and two years after President Abraham Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation. Since it was designated a federal […]

3 days ago

A Boeing 737 Max suffered damage to parts of the plane's structure after it went into a “Dutch ro...

Associated Press

Plane that did ‘Dutch roll’ on flight from Phoenix suffered structural damage, investigators say

A Boeing 737 Max suffered damage to parts of the plane's structure after it went into a “Dutch roll” during a flight from Phoenix last month.

7 days ago

This photo provided by Randy Shannon shows Mooney Falls on the Havasupai reservation outside the vi...

Associated Press

Dozens report illness after trips to waterfalls near Grand Canyon

Dozens of hikers say they fell ill during trips to a popular Arizona tourist destination that features towering blue-green waterfalls deep in a gorge neighboring Grand Canyon National Park.

8 days ago

Mugshot of Rudy Giuliani, who was processed Monday, June 10, 2024, in the Arizona fake electors cas...

Associated Press

Rudy Giuliani posts $10K cash bond after being processed in Arizona fake electors case

Rudy Giuliani, a former New York City mayor and Donald Trump attorney, was processed Monday in the Arizona fake electors case.

11 days ago

FILE - White House former chief of staff Mark Meadows speaks with reporters at the White House, Wed...

Associated Press

Former Trump chief of staff Mark Meadows pleads not guilty in Arizona fake elector case

Former Donald Trump presidential chief of staff Mark Meadows and Trump 2020 Election Day operations director Michael Roman pleaded not guilty Friday in Phoenix to nine felony charges for their roles in an effort to overturn Trump's Arizona election loss to Joe Biden.

14 days ago

Sponsored Articles


Condor Airlines

Condor Airlines can get you smoothly from Phoenix to Frankfurt on new A330-900neo airplane

Adventure Awaits! And there's no better way to experience the vacation of your dreams than traveling with Condor Airlines.


Midwestern University

Midwestern University Clinics: transforming health care in the valley

Midwestern University, long a fixture of comprehensive health care education in the West Valley, is also a recognized leader in community health care.


Collins Comfort Masters

Here’s 1 way to ensure your family is drinking safe water

Water is maybe one of the most important resources in our lives, and especially if you have kids, you want them to have access to safe water.

Police: Investigation focused on Black separatist group