By Joe Johnson
The Athens-Clarke County Police Department said it is investigating apparent racially-tinged threats that have been made against District 2 County Commissioner Mariah Parker.
The apparent threats recently appeared on Facebook pages, including that of the Clarke County Republican Party. In comments posted under a news story about Parker’s desire for police reform in Athens, a man identified as Chuck Jackson posted: “Start vandalism at her house and those who vote for (sic). Bricks through window, peaceful like protest.“
Jackson’s public Facebook file identifies him as CEO and president of Olde South Insurance Consulting in Lawrenceville.
An even more ominous post appeared Thursday on the Facebook page of Historic Athens Executive Director Tommy Valentine, who unsuccessfully ran for the county commission in 2018, with Parker as his campaign consultant.
“Most of Athens has a tall oak tree with her name on it,” a person identified as Robby Dunlap posted beneath a photo of Valentine with Parker.
Dunlap does not publicly share personal information on his Facebook page, where he has posted several racist memes that can be publicly seen in his photo album.
The apparent threats came a week after Parker led a peaceful protest in downtown Athens in which thousands of people condemned excessive, and oftentimes lethal, police force against unarmed black people.
Parker is an advocate of scaling down the number of Athens-Clarke County police officers, and believes that ACCPD should focus more on helping people receive mental health support to avoid ending up in the criminal justice system.
Her plan would replace half of the armed officers in the police department with mental health professionals, social workers and other “forms of non-violent response” over the next 10 years.
Parker said that threats come with being a civil rights activist.
“These aren't my first threats, and if I continue the good work, they won't be the last,” she said Friday. “I take a lot of strength and guidance from freedom fighters of old and knowing other leaders have faced down threats of violence with grace helps ground me.
Parker added, “I received lynching and rape threats after my election in 2018, but this is the first resurgence of such that I've received since then.”
A report about the threatening social media posts was filed with police on Thursday.