The Clarke County Sheriff's Office will no longer detain undocumented immigrants for Immigration and Customs Enforcement to deport unless requests are accompanied by a judicial warrant, the sheriff's department announced late this afternoon.
Sheriff Ira Edwards instituted a new policy in July, complying with ICE requests to hold undocumented inmates—many of whom had not been convicted of a crime—for up to 48 hours beyond when they would have otherwise been released so that ICE could pick them up and deport them. The policy change met with widespread criticism from activists, churches and other elected officials once it became public in December.
In January, Edwards convened an advisory committee that could not come to a concensus on the issue and recommended that he seek legal counsel from the Athens-Clarke County attorney's office, which told him "there is case law that has identified gaps in the current system that do not allow the Sheriff's Office to hold individuals solely on a detainer from ICE," according to a news release. "As such, the Sheriff wishes to avoid the potential risk to the county of civil litigation relating to ICE detainers."
Just a few hours after this post went live, Gov. Nathan Deal waded into the reimbursement dispute between Piedmont Healthcare, which owns Piedmont Athens Regional and several other Georgia hospitals, and Blue Cross Blue Shield that has thrown thousands of Athens workers and their families out of network.
Deal ordered both sides back to the negotiating table late Tuesday afternoon to hammer out a new contract setting reimbursement rates for Piedmont doctors and procedures. The last one expired at midnight Saturday, affecting almost 600,000 state employees on BCBS plans.
If an equitable solution is not reached, I’ve directed the Department of Community Health and the State Health Benefit Plan to explore all possible solutions to ensure our members have access to care," Deal said in a news release. "The university system stands ready to take similar action on behalf of its employees. "
Photo Credit: Karica Smith
The sixth annual Athens Hip Hop Awards took place last night, with this year's event placing a special emphasis on activism. Local performers, politicians and community organizers gathered for a full evening of music and much more, in an effort to celebrate local hip hop and the community that supports it.
Read more about the awards here. Below, check out this year's winners:
Photo Credit: John M. Blood
It happened to be St. Patrick’s Day, but the Classic City Rollergirls always wear green and black. They didn’t mess with that formula during the 2018 season opener Saturday night at Athens Arena, and, dressed for success, they massacred the visiting Boone, NC-based Appalachian Roller Derby, 197-139.
Photo Credit: Austin Steele/file
AthFest Educates, the local arts-education nonprofit that stages the annual AthFest Music and Arts Festival, has received a $10,000 grant from the National Endowment for the Arts to help fund this year's festival.
All photos by Nicole Adamson
There isn’t a better venue for hosting women’s flat-track roller derby in northeast Georgia than Athens Arena, a simple cinder-block-and-aluminum building tucked away in the warehouse and whatnot district off Atlanta Highway, in Bogart.
After a day of service and other Martin Luther King Jr. Day activities, thousands of Athens residents gathered downtown for the second annual MLK Day parade, organized by the Athens Anti-Discrimination Coalition. Hundreds marched while a diverse group of thousands more watched, and the parade was followed by a festival with kids' activities, a market for black-owned businesses, food trucks and live music at the Hot Corner, historically Athens' center of African-American life.
Flagpole photographer Nicole Adamson documented the scene:
Photo Credit: Tre Brown
Monday morning, volunteers poured into the parking lot of Holy Cross Lutheran Church to help with the restoration efforts of Brooklyn Cemetery, one of the first African-American cemetery in Athens. Over the years, time and nature have taken claim to the resting places of the hundreds buried on its grounds.
Gathering on the annual MLK Day of Service, the Friends of Brooklyn Cemetery, led by trustee Linda Davis, worked with clearing paths and revealing unseen tombstones. All of their efforts led to the dedication of their new signage to the cemetery.
What seems like a small part of this ongoing project is actually an important step to the maintenance and preservation of the area. When Davis, whose grandparents are buried in the cemetery, took on this project in 2006, it was unclear to the community who actually had ownership of the property. Over 10 years later, the group brings over 600 volunteers from the Athens area each year to help with its efforts.
The Athens Anti-Discrimination Movement will host a "Know Your Rights" workshop at 5:30 p.m. today at the Athens-Clarke County Library to educate people on how to file complaints under the city's anti-discrimination ordinance.
Speakers will include lawyers Nancee Tomilson on civil rights and John Beasly on workplace discrimination, and ACC Attorney Bill Berryman on the "bar admittance" ordinance, which bans bars from denying entry based on factors like race, gender identity or sexual orientation.
Saturday, newly sworn-in Superior Court Judge Regina Quick will host the first of several "Access to Justice Pop-Up Clinics" from 9–11 a.m. at the Rocksprings Community Center.
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