In Gwinnett, much of the focus during last week’s primary elections was on commission and school board races. But it was Ronda Colvin-Leary who made history.
Colvin-Leary, a local attorney, won her nonpartisan race for a spot on Gwinnett’s State Court bench, making her the first black judge elected in the history of one of Georgia’s most diverse counties — and she may also be its first person of color elected in a countywide local election.
“I’m just humbled that so many people believed in me,” Colvin-Leary said. “And I think it’s significant also because I had the support of a lot of people, I had bipartisan support. … I think why that means so much to me is that people looked past the race [of the candidates].”
Last week’s higher profile Gwinnett races included legislative primaries and a handful of Democratic candidates competing for the right to pursue the county commission and school board seats up for grabs in November’s general election.
Many of those Democrats were people of color, and the victors — Ben Ku and Marlene Fosque on the commission side, Wandy Taylor and Everton Blair for the school board — will now have the chance to become the first non-white members of their respective bodies, though, all four will still have to beat Republican opponents come fall.
Colvin-Leary has already crossed the finish line.
Because Gwinnett’s local judicial races are nonpartisan, her victory last week over opponent Lance Tyler is final and there will be no second election in November.
Gwinnett spokesman Joe Sorenson said the county has had black judges appointed to its magistrate, juvenile and recorders courts. The county’s Administrative Office of the Courts, however, confirmed that no black judge had ever been elected.
Two Gwinnett cities recently elected the county’s first-ever non-white mayors, and voters in a handful of legislative districts have sent non-white candidates to the state Capitol in recent years. But Colvin-Leary is believed to be the first black candidate ever elected in a countywide local election.
Advocates say more diverse leadership can pave the way for fresh ideas and more equitable representation.
Renita Hamilton Edmonson, whose term as president of the Gwinnett branch of the NAACP recently ended, said she could not think of “any individual who has worked harder and deserves this achievement more.”
“This is a wonderful time in the history of Gwinnett County,” she said. “The significance of this event reflects the spirit of diversity, the melting of prejudices and welcomed change.”
Gwinnett has about 920,000 residents, and less than 40 percent of them are white. Black residents make up about 28 percent of the county’s population, with Latino (21 percent) and Asian (12 percent) not far behind.
The lack of minority representation on the county level has been the subject of ire — and litigation — in recent years.
An ongoing lawsuit filed by the Georgia Association of Latino Elected Officials, the Georgia NAACP and others argues that the way Gwinnett’s commission and school board districts are drawn dilutes the influence of minority voters. It asks for more majority-minority districts to be drawn.
Racially charged Facebook comments posted in early 2017 by current Commissioner Tommy Hunter added fuel to the fire.
Colvin-Leary was raised in a small town outside Montgomery, Alabama, and attended college at Auburn University. She got her law degree from Florida Coastal School of Law in Jacksonville and was admitted to the Georgia bar in 2001.
She previously worked in Atlanta Municipal Court and the DeKalb County Solicitor General’s Office. In addition to the private law practice she’s run in Lawrenceville for more than a decade, Colvin-Leary currently serves as the city of Winder’s solicitor.
She is married to a Marine Corps veteran and has two daughters. They live in Snellville.
Gwinnett State Court handles misdemeanor and traffic violations that are prosecuted by the solicitor’s office, as well civil actions.
“I love State Court because, for me, I like to think that … if you come to State Court we can try to address it before something else major happens and you wind up in Superior Court for a more serious offense,” Colvin-Leary said.
Superior Court may actually be where Gwinnett’s next black elected official lands.
Last week, local defense attorney Veronica Cope was one of the top two vote-getters in a five-candidate race for an open seat on the court’s bench. She and Tracey Mason will now compete in a July 24 runoff.
Suspect in Atlanta shootings that left eight dead might have frequented spas, authorities say
Shootings at three Atlanta-area spas on Tuesday left eight people dead, including six Asian women, prompting widespread concern that the killings could be the latest in a surge of hate crimes against Asian Americans.
Police said the lone suspect told investigators he has a “sexual addiction” and that the spas were “a temptation for him that he wanted to eliminate.” But the authorities added it was too early to be certain that the slayings were not racially motivated.
Robert Aaron Long, 21, was arrested after a brief manhunt Tuesday. Authorities said Long admitted he was responsible for the slayings, and they believe he acted alone.
Here’s what to know:
- Police identified the four victims killed in Cherokee County, and added that a fifth suffered wounds that are not life-threatening.
- Long was reportedly on his way to Florida to carry out additional shootings, Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms (D) said.
- Baker said that Long claimed during interviews that the acts of violence were not racially motivated. Atlanta Police Chief Rodney Bryant said that it remains unclear whether the shootings could be classified as a hate crime.
- Vice President Harris called the shootings “tragic” and expressed condolences to the families of the eight people killed. President Biden also said he was “very concerned” about the shootings.
- Georgia state Sen. Michelle Au (D) said that regardless of what authorities determine to be the motive, “it is taking place in a landscape where Asian-Americans are increasingly terrified and fearful for their lives and their safety because of these escalating threats against against our people.”
2:31 PM: Suspect’s youth pastor describes his active Southern Baptist life as a teenager
Years before being suspected of killing eight people in a suburb of Atlanta, including six Asian women, Robert Aaron Long was active in his Southern Baptist congregation, his youth pastor said Wednesday.
Long, 21, was arrested Tuesday in the three shootings.
As a teenager, Long would stack chairs and clean floors at Crabapple First Baptist Church in Milton, Ga., said Brett Cottrell, who led the youth ministry at Crabapple from 2008 to 2017. Long’s father was considered an important lay leader in the church, Cottrell said, and they would attend Sunday morning and evening activities, as well as Wednesday evening meetings and mission trips.
“There’s nothing that I’m aware of at Crabapple that would give approval to this,” Cottrell said in an interview, referring to the shootings. “I’m assuming it’s as shocking and numbing to them as it has been to me.”
1:56 PM: Head of women’s group says those ‘most fearful to go to work today in Atlanta are Asian American women’
- © Chris Aluka Berry/For The Washington Post The back entrance to Aromatherapy Spa, one of three locations where deadly shootings happened Tuesday in the Atlanta area.
Sung Yeon Choimorrow, executive director of the National Asian Pacific American Women’s Forum, said when she first saw news of Tuesday night’s shooting, she thought: “This is what we feared.”
She pointed to the disproportionate impact that anti-Asian violence has on women. Choimorrow acknowledged that even though authorities said Long, the suspect, claimed the violence was not racially motivated, she wondered whether his personal biases — and larger social factors — were important to recognize.
“The reality is this tragedy is impacting the Asian American community in ways it’s not in the other communities in Atlanta right now,” she said. “If you step back a little bit, pull back the curtains a bit, and really understand the history of how this country has perceived and treated Asian American women, it won’t be a surprise to come to the conclusion that there was some racialized motivation behind what happened yesterday.”
She pointed to a history of “exotifying” Asian American women: “Many people interact with Asian American women as service workers, right? People who do body work. Whether it’s highly professionalized as doctors who cure your body, to nurses, to child-care workers to beauty service industry, to the hospitality industry,” she said.
“The people that are most fearful to go to work today in Atlanta are Asian American women. It’s not White women, it’s Asian American women,” Choimorrow said. “They’re fearful to go to their service jobs today because of what happened yesterday.”
President Biden said Wednesday that he was “very concerned” about the Atlanta area spa shootings that left eight people dead, including six Asian women, noting the sharp uptick in violence in the United States targeting people of Asian descent.
Biden said he had been briefed on Tuesday’s violence and that the investigation remains ongoing.
“I’m very concerned, because as you know, I’ve been speaking about the brutality against Asian Americans for the last couple months, and I think it is very, very troubling,” Biden said. “I am making no connection at this moment to the motivation of the killer. I’m waiting for an answer as the investigation proceeds from the FBI and from the Justice Department.”
“I’ll have more to say when the investigation is completed,” he added.
Biden’s comments in the Oval Office came at the outset of hosting a virtual meeting with Irish Prime Minister Micheál Martin.
1:27 PM: Atlanta rampage fits patterns seen in prior mass killings
Some details offered by authorities about the shooting rampage in the Atlanta area fit patterns seen in other mass killings.
Researchers have found that mass killers and active shooters are usually male, typically target places known to them and are often fueled by grievances. These grievances can involve attackers blaming others for their issues or otherwise perceiving some wrong, researchers have found.
Law enforcement officials said Wednesday that the suspect in the shootings at the three Atlanta-area spas “may have frequented some of these places in the past.” They also suggested during a news briefing that he described the spas as “a temptation for him that he wanted to eliminate,” one official said.
An FBI study in 2018 looking at active shooters found that most of those examined had a grievance that “may not have been reasonable or even grounded in reality, but it appeared to serve as the rationale for the eventual attack, giving a sense of purpose to the shooter.” Mass attackers also typically unnerve people around them beforehand, alarming at least someone in their lives before the outburst of violence, researchers have found.
Authorities also said that the shooting suspect told investigators that the killings were not racially motivated. In some recent high-profile cases, attackers or people charged in mass killings have been explicit about their intentions and sentiments, including during and after mass killings in Pittsburgh, El Paso and Charleston, S.C.
The suspected attacker in Pittsburgh allegedly said he wanted to “kill Jews” while rampaging inside a synagogue. Police said the man charged with killing people at an El Paso Walmart told them that he was targeting “Mexicans” that day. And the man who massacred Black parishioners inside a Charleston church detailed his racist motivations at length.
All of those massacres led to hate-crime charges.
12:43 PM: House Democrats suggest Trump’s rhetoric about ‘China virus’ to blame for rising violence against Asian Americans
Two House Democrats called out former president Donald Trump for his repeated use of terms such as “China virus” and “Wuhan virus” for the rising violence against Asian Americans the day after shootings at three Atlanta-area spas left eight people dead, including six Asian women.
Law enforcement officials said Wednesday that the shooting suspect claimed that the acts of violence Tuesday were not racially motivated. Atlanta Police Chief Rodney Bryant said that it remains unclear whether the shootings could be classified as a hate crime.
“President Trump clearly stoked the flames of xenophobia against AAPIs with his rhetoric,” said Rep. Judy Chu (D-Calif.) at a Capitol Hill news conference Wednesday. “The CDC and the World Health Organization said we should all use the official term covid-19 in order to make sure this disease is not associated with a particular geographical location or ethnicity due to the stigma it causes. And President Trump refused to acknowledge that and instead used the terms ‘China virus,’ ‘Wuhan Virus’ and ‘Kung flu.’”
In a telephone interview with Fox News’s Maria Bartiromo Tuesday night, the former president again used the term “China virus” to describe the coronavirus.
Chu said Trump and his followers doubled down on the rhetoric and “what we saw yesterday is the result of that.”
Rep. Hakeem Jeffries (D-N.Y.) went further, saying, “We encourage members of Congress who used that kind of hateful rhetoric — cut it out because you also have blood on your hands.”
Hate crimes against Asian Americans have spiked across the United States. Since the start of the pandemic, Asian Americans reported nearly 3,800 hate-related incidents in all 50 states, according to a report released Tuesday by Stop AAPI Hate.
12:22 PM: Obama: ‘We urge meaningful action that will save lives’
12:15 PM: Asian American leader says community feels ‘hurt’ over attack: ‘I’m trying to keep it together’
Sookyung Oh, the Washington-area director of the advocacy group National Korean American Service and Education Consortium, said local Asian Americans have been nervously monitoring news coverage of Tuesday’s shooting.
“I’m trying to keep it together,” said Oh, a second-generation Korean American. “I feel hurt. Asian American people feel hurt.”
Oh said the recent attacks follow a long history of violence against Asian Americans, largely fueled by negative stereotypes and xenophobia. President Donald Trump exacerbated those problems by labeling the coronavirus the “China virus,” she said.
“I don’t know how many times somebody has asked if I’m from here,” Oh said. “The ongoing story is that we don’t actually get to belong in the U.S.”
She called on Asian Americans to be more vocal about attacks against other ethnic groups.
“We have to join with Jewish Americans, the Black community, Middle Eastern and Arab Americans,” she said. “And really be clear that we want a country where we’re not going to stand for hateful behavior.”
11:46 AM: Harris: ‘We grieve for the loss’
Vice President Harris called the shootings “tragic” and expressed condolences to the families of the eight people killed, including six Asian women.
“We grieve for the loss,” she said. “It speaks to a larger issue, which is violence in our country and to never tolerate it.”
While saying the motive of the shooter is not clear, Harris, a former prosecutor, noted that most of the victims were Asian and said no “form of hate” should be tolerated.
11:23 AM: Four Cherokee County victims identified by police
The Cherokee County Sheriff’s Office identified four of the people killed in Tuesday’s shootings in the Atlanta area:
-Delaina Ashley Yaun, 33, of Acworth, Ga.
-Paul Andre Michels, 54, of Atlanta
-Xiaojie Yan, 49, of Kennesaw, Ga.
-Daoyou Feng, 44
A fifth victim, Elcias R. Hernandez-Ortiz, 30, of Acworth, suffered wounds that are not life-threatening, police said.
After Long, the suspect, was taken into custody, police said they recovered a 9mm firearm. They say he confessed to the shootings during his interview with authorities.
11:15 AM: ‘People in the Asian-American community are scared,’ says Georgia state senator who warned about hate crimes this week
Georgia state Sen. Michelle Au, a Democrat who represents a swath of North Fulton and Gwinnett counties, said that she was “shocked and saddened” when she first saw news of Tuesday night’s shootings, but also that she was “not surprised.”
“Obviously the events are still unfolding, and we’re still getting more information. So I don’t want to jump to any conclusions as to the motivations behind this particular crime,” she said. “But just stepping back for a bit, I think that there is a picture in this country, especially over the past year, of increasing discrimination and violence against our Asian American communities.”
She said that regardless of what authorities determine to be the motive for Tuesday’s shootings, “it is taking place in a landscape where Asian Americans are increasingly terrified and fearful for their lives and their safety because of these escalating threats against our people.”
The day before the shooting, Au had warned her fellow state senators about the surge in crimes against Asian Americans. She said media coverage of crimes against Asian Americans have largely focused on incidents in California and New York.
“I did not want this to be a story that people in Georgia ignored because they felt they were immune to it, because, first of all, there is a fairly significant and growing Asian population in the state of Georgia, particularly in my Senate district,” she said, noting that Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders make up more than 24 percent of her district.
“The point of speaking about it in the [Senate] well is saying that there’s a brewing problem, and we need to be aware of it before it manifests,” she said.
During a news conference Wednesday, authorities said the suspect claimed the acts were not racially motivated. Atlanta Police Chief Rodney Bryant said it is not yet clear whether the shootings that killed eight people, including six Asian women, could be classified as a hate crime.
In a separate statement released by Au’s office, she added: “Our AAPI community has been living in fear this past year in the shadow of escalating racial discrimination and attacks. This latest series of murders only heightens that terror.”
11:08 AM: Suspect was possibly on his way to Florida, Atlanta mayor says
Robert Aaron Long was reportedly on his way to Florida after the shootings in the Atlanta area, the city’s mayor said.
At a news conference Wednesday, Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms (D) indicated that Long, who admitted he was responsible for the shootings, had plans to head to Florida for a potential similar string of violence.
“The suspect was on his way to Florida, perhaps to carry out additional shootings,” Bottoms said.
Police say that while the suspect claimed the attacks were not racially motivated, Long showed indicators in his interview with authorities of having a possible “sexual addiction.”
10:59 AM: Shooting suspect shows indicators of ‘potential sexual addiction,’ police say
© Chris Aluka Berry/For The Washington Post ATLANTA, GEORGIA - MARCH 17: Cherokee County Sheriff’s Office Captain Jay Baker waits to speak at a press conference for the deadly spa shootings that happened yesterday in Atlanta, Georgia, U.S. March 17, 2021. (Photo by Chris Aluka Berry for The Washington Post)
The Cherokee County Sheriff’s Office said Wednesday that the suspect in the Atlanta-area shootings showed indicators of having a possible “sexual addiction” in his interview with authorities.
“He made indicators that he has some issues, potentially sexual addiction, and may have frequented some of these places in the past,” Sheriff’s Capt. Jay Baker said at a news conference. “We still have a lot of things to process.”
Baker later added that in the interview, Long indicated that the spas were “a temptation” for him.
“It’s a temptation for him that he wanted to eliminate,” Baker told reporters. “It’s still early on, but those were comments that he made.”
10:58 AM: Church leaders wrestle with shooting suspect’s Southern Baptist ties
Russell Moore, head of the Southern Baptist Church’s public policy arm, said in a statement that the “shocking” shootings on Tuesday night come at a time when he has heard increasingly from Asian Americans who face escalating “immoral and unjust” bigotry.
“Christians must also lead the way in refusing to listen to and refusing to amplify the voices of those who would incite hatred against minority populations,” Moore said.
The denomination has been engulfed in an explosive debate over race in recent months, especially since Southern Baptist leaders condemned something called Critical Race Theory, an academic movement that views racism as central to society’s problems. Several Black pastors have left the denomination, and prominent Bible teacher Beth Moore revealed last week that she has also parted ways.
Long’s Atlanta church is part of a group in the SBC called Founders Ministry, which has pushed the convention in a more conservative direction in recent years.
Raymond Chang, a Korean American who is head of the Asian American Christian Collaborative, said he was disappointed but not surprised to learn Long was a member of a Southern Baptist Church.
“One of the things that is difficult about White evangelical Christian churches and spaces is that they struggle to talk about race and racism in any meaningful way and create conditions in which racism and white supremacy can sadly flourish,” said Chang, who is campus minister at the evangelical Wheaton College outside of Chicago.
He said people of color within White evangelical spaces who try to help on issues of race are often silenced, pushed out, or they burn out. The SBC, Chang said, seems to consistently spend more energy on resisting efforts to dismantle racism than address racism within its church.
10:55 AM: Police: Suspect claims shooting was not racially motivated
© Chris Aluka Berry/For The Washington Post ATLANTA, GEORGIA - MARCH 17: Cherokee County Sheriff Frank Reynolds speaks to the press as Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms listens during a press conference for the deadly spa shootings that happened yesterday in Atlanta, Georgia, U.S. March 17, 2021. (Photo by Chris Aluka Berry for The Washington Post)
Cherokee County Sheriff Frank Reynolds said Tuesday that the killing of eight people in three separate shootings at Atlanta-area massage parlors may not be a hate crime targeting Asians, but more investigation will be done to reach a final conclusion.
Police arrested Robert Aaron Long, 21, after a brief manhunt and said he is the suspect in all three shootings. Police said they interviewed the suspect Tuesday night, with the assistance of the FBI.
Atlanta Police Chief Rodney Bryant said that it remains unclear whether the shootings could be classified as a hate crime.
“I think it’s important we acknowledge the fact if this is hate crime,” Bryant said at a news conference. “We are still early in this investigation, so we can’t make a determination. We are very early.”
The killings come as Asian American hate crimes have spiked across the United States. Since the start of the pandemic, Asian Americans reported nearly 3,800 hate-related incidents in all 50 states, according to a report released Tuesday by Stop AAPI Hate.
Bryant emphasized that officials are still early in the investigation.
“Even though we have made an arrest, there’s still a lot more work to be done,” he said.
Investigators will not simply take the suspect’s word for his motives, and have already spoken to his parents. They will also comb through any online postings, writings or witness accounts that may offer clues to what he did, officials said. Denying hate as a motive is unlikely to spare him any punishment, since he already faces eight counts of murder, and the possibility in Georgia of the death penalty.
10:55 AM: Atlanta mayor: ‘A crime against any community is a crime against us all’
“A motive is still not clear, but a crime against any community is a crime against us all,” Bottoms said in a statement.
Police arrested Robert Aaron Long, 21, after a brief manhunt and said he is the suspect in the shootings.
Bottoms praised law enforcement for apprehending Long. She said she is working with the White House and the Atlanta Police Department as law enforcement “investigate the suspect who is responsible for this senseless violence in our city.”
“My prayers are with the families and friends of the victims whose lives were cut short by these shootings,” Bottoms said.
10:30 AM: Mayorkas says he has been briefed on Atlanta shootings, FBI is on the case
Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas said Wednesday that he has been briefed on the Atlanta-area spa shootings that left eight people dead and that the FBI is on the case.
Mayorkas made his comments during his opening remarks at a hearing of the House Homeland Security Committee where much of the focus is on the migrant surge at the southwestern border.
“At the very outset, I should recognize the tragic event that took place in the surrounding areas of Atlanta yesterday,” Mayorkas said. “Our thoughts and prayers are with the victims of that tragic event, those who lost their lives, as well as those who were injured.”
“We are tracking that event very carefully,” he said. “I have already been briefed on it. And I know that the Federal Bureau of Investigation is working underway to understand all of the facts and that the individual who is a suspect of that event is in custody.”
10:24 AM: Biden briefed on shooting
President Biden was briefed overnight about “the horrific shootings” in Atlanta, White House press secretary Jen Psaki said in a statement Wednesday.
“White House officials have been in touch with the Mayor’s office and will remain in touch with the FBI,” Psaki said.
According to a pool report, Biden will be speak by phone Wednesday morning with Attorney General Merrick Garland and FBI Director Christopher Wray.
10:17 AM: ‘These acts of hate and violence must stop,’ Georgia secretary of state says
8:52 AM: Asian Americans in Atlanta stunned by shootings as advocates demand action
Bronze-colored plaques with the message “Wuhan plague” popped up on buildings across Atlanta. An Asian American student on his way to a boba tea shop was told, “Thanks for covid.” In suburban Atlanta, an Asian American couple returning from the movies found a slur spray painted on their car.
For months, Asian Americans in Georgia, like in many areas across the country, have faced escalating verbal abuse and harassment, local advocates said. The already on-guard community reacted with shock and fear on Tuesday as it mourned the deaths of six Asian American women and two others fatally shot at Atlanta-area spas.
The violence toward the businesses “is frightening and alarming,” Chris Chan, an advisory chair for the Asian American Action Fund Georgia Chapter, told The Washington Post.
Chan said Asian Americans in Georgia had recently faced “words yelled at us or threatening gestures and actions” but “nothing rising to what we are seeing tonight.”
7:55 AM: Victims included four women of Korean ethnicity, South Korea says
The killings come as hate crimes against Asians have spiked across the United States. Since the start of the pandemic, Asian Americans reported nearly 3,800 hate-related incidents in all 50 states, according to a report released Tuesday by Stop AAPI Hate.
Among the victims killed in Atlanta were four women of Korean ethnicity, South Korea’s Foreign Ministry said on Wednesday. South Korea’s Consulate General in Atlanta dispatched a consul to the site, according to a Ministry statement.
Local advocates said they were stunned by the shootings and called for quick action.
“We are shaken by the violence in our city that has left 8 people dead, including members of the Asian American community,” said Asian Americans Advancing Justice Atlanta in a statement. “We are gathering information about what happened and what the needs of those directly impacted are. Now is the time to hold the victims and their families in our hearts and with light.”
7:39 AM: A timeline of the shootings — and a suspect’s arrest
The killings began just before 5 p.m. on Tuesday, authorities said, when surveillance video showed a man in a navy and red hoodie walking into Young’s Asian Massage, a spa on a busy commercial strip about 40 miles north of downtown Atlanta.
Four victims were shot inside the parlor along Highway 92, Cherokee County Sheriff’s Capt. Jay Baker said; two died on the scene and two later died in a hospital. A fifth man, who was coming out of a nearby business, was wounded, the man’s niece told WSB-TV.
Those fatally shot were two Asian women, a White woman and a White man. A Hispanic man was taken to the hospital with injuries, Baker said.
Video showed the suspect jumping into a black Hyundai Tucson and speeding away, police said. Less than an hour later, at about 5:47 p.m., a gunman killed three women inside Gold Massage Spa, about 27 miles south of the first shooting, said Sgt. John Chafee of the Atlanta Police Department.
Police responded to a call of a “robbery in progress” at Gold Massage Spa, and were still on the scene when shots were fired across the street inside Aromatherapy Spa, according to Chafee. Officers found one woman inside that business who was also fatally shot.
With the help of surveillance footage, police said they soon identified Long, who lives in Woodstock, Ga., as the suspect. Police posted photos of the Hyundai Tucson and Long and launched a massive search. In Crisp County, about 150 miles south of Atlanta, the sheriff’s office said it heard at about 8 p.m. that a homicide suspect was headed its way.
About a half-hour later, state patrol troopers and Crisp County deputies spotted a 2007 black Hyundai Tucson on the highway, and a trooper performed a tactical “PIT” maneuver, or pursuit intervention technique, that caused the car to “spin out of control,” Crisp County Sheriff Billy Hancock said.
Long was taken to jail “without incident,” Hancock said, and his office forwarded its information to the Cherokee Sheriff’s Office and the FBI.
© AP/AP This booking photo provided by the Crisp County Sheriff’s Office shows Robert Aaron Long on Tuesday.
Atlanta mayor to vandalizing protesters: ‘This is not a protest … this is chaos’
Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms on Friday evening denounced vandalism in her city as “chaos” after demonstrations over the death of George Floyd while in in the custody of Minneapolis police turned violent.
“What I see happening on the streets of Atlanta is not Atlanta. This is not a protest. This is not in the spirit of Martin Luther King, Jr. This is chaos,” an impassioned Lance Bottoms said at a news conference.
“A protest has purpose. When Dr. King was assassinated, we didn’t do this to our city,” she said. “If you want change in America, go and register to vote. … That is the change we need in this country.”
The protests had started as peaceful Friday afternoon when crowds gathered in the city’s famed Centennial Park. But by 6 p.m. ET, protesters began moving toward the front of the CNN Center, where police had gathered. Over the next few hours, the demonstration swelled as SWAT officers were called in to help with crowd control.
Later, protesters could be seen damaging CNN Center in downtown Atlanta, which is sandwiched between Philips Arena and Centennial Park.
In response, Lance Bottoms, whose name has been floated as a possible vice presidential pick for presumptive Democratic nominee Joe Biden, referenced CNN correspondent Omar Jimenez, who earlier Friday had been arrested — and then released about an hour later — while covering protests over Floyd’s death in Minneapolis.
“There was a black reporter who was arrested on camera this morning, who works for CNN. They are telling our stories, and you are disgracing their building,” she said. “We are no longer talking about the murder of an innocent man. We’re talking about how you’re burning police cars on the streets of Atlanta, Georgia.”
Anger over the death of Floyd spilled over into multiple cities across the country after the former officer seen in a video with his knee on Floyd’s neck was arrested and charged with murder.
Demonstrators funneled their anguish in cities like New York and Washington into chants, signs, and outbreaks of violence, smashing windows and setting vehicles ablaze.
“I am a mother to four black children in America, one of who is 18 years old,” Lance Bottoms said. “Yesterday, when I heard there were rumors about violent protests in Atlanta, I did what a mother would do, I called my son and I said, ‘Where are you?’ I said, ‘I cannot protect you, and black boys shouldn’t be out today.’ “
“So you’re not going to out-concern me and out-care about where we are in America,” she added.
In Minneapolis, Minnesota, George Floyd, an unarmed black man, died after he was pinned down by police officer Derek Chauvin. The video of the handcuffed man dying while Chauvin knelt on his neck sparked a fresh furor in the US over police treatment of African Americans. The video shared online showed Floyd pleading that he couldn’t breathe. Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey fired four police officers following the death in custody of George Floyd. Chauvin has been charged with third-degree murder and manslaughter. Demonstrations are being held across the US demanding justice for Floyd.
BREAKING: Cobb DA Joyette Holmes Named Prosecutor In Ahmaud Arbery Case
Georgia’s attorney general will appoint a new prosecutor in the Ahmaud Arbery case.
Attorney General Chris Carr will name Cobb District Attorney Joyette Holmes to take over the case, Belcher learned.
Belcher spoke to Holmes, who did not deny it but instead just referred him to the current special prosecutor, Thomas Durden.
The official announcement is expected later today, Belcher said.
Ahmaud Arbery, 25, was killed by a father and son as he jogged through their Glynn County neighborhood back in February. A video shot on a cellphone showed the confrontation between Arbery and the McMichaels after they confronted him with guns. It took 74 days for the McMichaels to be arrested and charged for Arbery’s death.
The McMichaels say that they suspected Arbery had broken into a home nearby that is under construction. Authorities said the McMichaels, thinking he was a burglary suspect, pursued him.
Arbery was shot and killed moments later.
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