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Dueling protests outside Athens City Hall amid Laken Riley-immigration debate

Text and photos by Tia Lynn Ivey

As Athens-Clarke County Commissioners gathered Tuesday to vote on public safety expenditures in the wake of the Feb. 22 murder of student Laken Riley on the UGA campus, hundreds of people gathered outside to protest in two separate camps.

Organized by Make Athens Safe Again, a slew of speakers stood on the steps of City Hall to rail against the city’s crime rate, poverty, and drugs. They decried the presence of undocumented immigrants, gangs, and the local homeless population in the city. Many of the speakers placed blame for the city’s crime rate on the “sanctuary city-like” policies of local elected officials including Girtz, the entire Athens-Clarke County Commission, District Attorney Deborah Gonzalez, and Sheriff John. Q. Williams.

The second rally, The Laken Riley Unity Vigil, set up on the opposite side of College Avenue,  encouraged attendees to bring daffodils (Athens’ signature flower) to honor the life and memory of the slain student.

The vigil was orchestrated by the Athens Anti-Discrimination Movement, the Students for Socialism at UGA, the Party for Socialism and Liberation.

Participants sang songs and offered prayers, while holding signs condemning racism and xenophobia and supporting the rights of all immigrants.


Joseph Wargo, a field representative from the right-wing group Turning Point USA who was a featured speaker at the Make Athens Safe Again , is escorted from the commission meeting after bursting into rally, bursts in to shout down Mayor Kelly Girtz, demanding that he resign immediately.

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2 commenti

And that explains why we have the problem.

A country which does not have a common language (culture as well) and a border is not a country. Period. Far too many of our over schooled and under educated persons working on or possessing advanced degrees simply do not comprehend this.

Mi piace

Great photos, thank you.

Mi piace
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