Oconee County’s three legislators in the Georgia General Assembly last week voted in favor of House Bill 316, which selects new voting machines and responds to allegations that voters last year were denied access, absentee ballots were not counted and vote tallies were incomplete.
The vote on the House bill was partisan, and Sen. Bill Cowsert from the 46th District, Rep. Houston Gaines from House District 117, and Rep. Marcus Wiedower from House District 119, all Republicans, sided with the Republican majority.
Photo Credit: Joshua L. Jones
In "Run It Up," Flagpole's new podcast, we take a deeper look at some of the stories from the current issue. In this week's episode, Athens Hip Hop Awards founders Mokah and Knowa Johnson join Gabe Vodicka to discuss this year's expanded event and how hip-hop informs their work as community activists. Plus, Blake Aued chats with SPLOST citizens advisory committee chairwoman Shannon Wilder.
In "Run It Up," Flagpole's new podcast, we take a deeper look at some of the stories from the current issue. In this week's Very Meta Episode, writer, podcaster and The Rook and Pawn co-owner Tim Kelly joins Gabe Vodicka to talk about the recent boom in Athens podcasting. Plus, Blake Aued breaks down Athens-Clarke County's controversial settlement with former ACCPD officer Taylor Saulters.
Oconee County’s two representatives in the Georgia General Assembly cast their votes late Thursday night with the House majority in favor of a bill that prohibits most abortions after a doctor can detect a heartbeat in the womb and with the minority against a hate crimes bill.
House Bill 481, officially called the Living Infants Fairness and Equality (LIFE) Act, passed narrowly at 10:45 p.m. on Thursday with 93 representatives, almost all Republicans, voting in favor, and 73 voting against.
House Bill 426, which would amend existing Georgia Code to provide criteria for imposition of punishment for defendants who select their victims based upon certain biases or prejudices, also passed narrowly with 96 voting in favor and 64 voting against.
The Senate voted down a bill last week creating a voucher program for private-school students when several Republicans either sat it out or crossed party lines, and a rumored revote never came to pass. SB 173 is most likely dead for the session, along with the similar House Bill 301.
Crossover Day—the last day for a bill to pass either the House or the Senate and be eligible to pass in the other—came and went Thursday without a vote on HB 301 or HB 340, which would have restricted local governments’ ability to reform the cash bail system. SB 164, another bill aimed at bail reform sponsored by Sen. Bill Cowsert (R-Athens) died as well.
HB 302, prohibiting local governments from regulating the design of houses, appeared to be on the fast track after passing out of committee, but also did not come up for a vote. However, all of these bills could be resurrected by attaching their language to bills on similar topics that did make it through Crossover Day. And they will get another chance next year.
Photo Credit: Blake Aued
The weapon a man pointed at police officers before they shot and killed him Friday was an airsoft gun, authorities said Sunday.
While the investigation is ongoing, Athens-Clarke County Police Chief Cleveland Spruill released more details on Sunday.
Friday evening police, initially responded to a call that Thomas Wayne Swinford, 34, of Grovetown, who was in Athens visiting relatives, was "behaving erratically" and was suspected of stealing a vehicle. After speaking to him initially and noticing that he had what appeared to be a gun, officers realized he had "an extensive criminal record," Spruill said. Possessing a gun is illegal for a convicted felon, so they returned to the home to speak to him again.
Athens-Clarke County police identified the man officers shot and killed off Westlake Drive on Friday as Thomas Wayne Swinford, 34.
Swinford's last known address was in Grovetown, in the Augusta area, police said today, but Chief Cleveland Spruill told Flagpole Friday night that he also had connections to Athens.
According to police, officers responded at about 6:30 p.m. Friday to call about a man with what is believed to be a firearm. After spending approximately 10–15 minutes telling him to put the gun down, Swinford charged at police, and the officers opened fire.
Photo Credit: Blake Aued
Athens-Clarke County police shot and killed a man they "believed to be armed with a weapon" during a confrontation off Westlake Drive at about 6:30 p.m.
According to a news release from ACCP issued at 10 p.m.:
ACCPD officers encountered an adult white male who brandished what is believed to be a firearm in a threatening manner. Officers issued verbal commands for the individual to drop the firearm. The individual disregarded the officers’ command and charged the officers with the firearm in his hand pointed in the officer’s direction. Multiple officers, fearing for their lives and safety, discharged their firearms. After the shooting, officers immediately rendered first aid and the individual was transported to a local hospital where he succumbed to his injuries.
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