by Robin Kemp
Here’s some of the stories we’ll be working on this week, plus an update of weekend headlines:
- Karl Anthony Jordan, who was charged with shooting three women–one fatally–and a child in Clayton and Henry Counties, was captured by Clayton County Police and U.S. Marshals and is being held in the Henry County Jail. In Clayton County, Jordan faces murder, aggravated assault, felony cruelty to children, possession of a firearm or weapon during a crime, and possession of a firearm by a convicted felon. In Henry, he’s charged with aggravated assault, aggravated battery, armed robbery, theft by taking,possession of a firearm or knife during commission of or attempt to commit certain felonies, possession of a firearm by a convicted felon or felony first offender, and parole violation. The Clayton Crescent was first to report on Sept. 23 that Jordan had been released from Central State Prison in January on drugs and weapons charges.
- Lake City held a city council work session at 10 a.m. Monday to discuss choose a vendor for Lake City Community Park, discuss the 2021 budget, street sweeping company, and City Hall cleaning service. We’ll update with the outcome of these discussions.
- Tomorrow, Tuesday, Sept. 29, is Special Election Day to fill the U.S. House District 5 seat of the late Rep. John Lewis. We put together a candidate guide for you Friday with capsule bios, plus links to each candidate’s campaign site, social media posts, and voting record where applicable. Whoever wins this race will serve through Jan. 3, 2021, at which point the winner of the Nov. 3 race will take over. (We’re in the process of putting together your Nov. 3 candidate guide. We don’t endorse candidates but we do endorse you doing your homework and making your own decisions.) You can find your polling place (and do check, as some changed this year) online at the Georgia Secretary of State’s My Voter Page, https://www.mvp.sos.ga.gov/MVP/mvp.do As of Friday, Sept. 25, early voting numbers show 170 absentee ballots had been received by the Clayton County Board of Elections and Registration:
- Some voters say they thought Sheriff Victor Hill is running unopposed because they only see one name on the ballot for sheriff. Hill did run unopposed in the primary. However, according to the Georgia Secretary of State’s Office, retired Georgia State Patrolman Dwayne Fabian qualified as a write-in candidate on March 11. The Clayton Crescent does not endorse candidates for office but did interview Fabian and has invited Hill to be a guest on the podcast, as well. Hill has not responded to the offer.
- On Sunday afternoon, Hill issued a Nixle post saying he had ordered CCSO Corrections Officer Gregory Hubert Brown be placed on administrative leave without pay, alleging that Brown “called a inmate on suicide watch a ‘crazy N-word’ in front of other inmates and another Correctional Officer.” Hill said Brown would be fired “within the next 72 hours…in compliance with civil service guidelines.”
- A suspect in the May 5 home invasion and sexual assualt of a Jonesboro woman is in the Clayton County Jail. JaMarcus Davel Williams, 21, of Moultrie, was arrested by the U.S. Marshals and Moultrie Police Department and CCSO picked him up Saturday. Williams and three other suspects allegedly broke into the woman’s house, sexually assaulted the woman, held a gun to a two-year-old’s head, and stole money and personal items. Williams is charged with aggravated sexual battery, first-degree criminal damage, felony cruelty to children, kidnapping, armed robbery, home invasion, and aggravated assault. Williams was denied bond at his first appearance Sunday, Sept. 27. His next court date is an Oct. 19 preliminary hearing at 8 a.m. in Room 201, with a bond hearing to follow Oct, 23 at 8 a.m. in the same room.
- The Clayton Crescent is considering legal action against the City of Forest Park. The move comes after the site’s reporter, Robin Kemp, was escorted from an open meeting of the Forest Park City Council by the police chief, Nathaniel Clark, who said he was doing so at the request of Mayor Angelyne Butler. Other metro Atlanta journalists expressed dismay at the city’s actions. The Clayton Crescent points to Georgia’s Open Meetings Law, which does not require government bodies to limit media (or any other member of the public’s) access to open meetings for public health reasons, as well as the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution, which states that “Congress [government] shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.” Advertised video feeds were not functioning correctly during the meeting and other members of the public with business before council were allowed to enter and remain in chambers. In addition, a Forest Park Police officer told The Clayton News’ reporter that the city had created a list of people who were allowed to enter the open meeting. On Sept. 22, The Clayton Crescent filed an Open Records Request asking for all lists of persons approved to enter City Council chambers since March 1, 2020; the person(s) responsible for compiling and approving those lists; all memos, ordinances, resolutions, executive orders, or other directives regarding public access to city buildings and parks during the COVID-19 pandemic since March 1, 2020; all e-mails, text messages, and telephone logs referencing media access to council chambers or other city facilities since March 1, 2020; and all Open Records Requests submitted to the City of Forest Park since March 1, 2020. On Sept. 24, the city’s deputy city clerk, Sharee M. Steed, responded without referencing the Open Records Act and asked for an additional 5 to 10 business days to complete the request. Two other Open Records requests the city received last week yielded an identical response. The city later claimed on its YouTube page that it was following “social distancing guidelines” in limiting public access to council meetings and suggested that citizens would need to file an Open Records Request to obtain audio of previously-held meetings after the fact. Open Records Requests can take up to three business days for a response and getting the records themselves sometimes can take longer, depending on the records being sought. The city has had ongoing issues with providing audible and visually complete videoconferences of its public meetings since COVID-19 measures began. Other municipalities and the Clayton County Board of Commissioners reopened in-person public access to their meetings some weeks ago. The Clayton Crescent, Inc., is being represented pro bono by BakerHostetler. In addition, the University of Georgia First Amendment Law Clinic and Georgia First Amendment Foundation are following events as they develop. We’ll keep you informed about these and other important First Amendment issues affecting Clayton County residents.