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Righting the scales of justice: Who should apologize?


By Pat Priest

Sometimes a bullied student is the one asked to apologize when they finally assert themselves. This pretty much describes the case with District Attorney Deborah Gonzalez, who serves both Athens-Clarke and Oconee Counties, who has been vilified endlessly right from the start. After a frightening incident in Oconee County at the Democrats' Christmas party, where someone at the restaurant knocked down one of the Democrats, she wrote what could be characterized as a despairing email about the simmering hatred directed toward her by some in the county. Many of those same people called for her to apologize, and headlines splashed the news when she did.

She had said she’s "the most hated woman in Oconee County.” That’s partly true because her work is characterized as beyond the pale, and Representatives Gaines and Wiedower have tried to pull Oconee out of her district as if her policies threaten the/ir social order. What is she trying to do that’s so dangerous? Rectify a system of justice in some cases tipped to favor those in power. Because people of color and low-income residents have sometimes been treated differently and more harshly by police and the courts, she’s working to vigorously address those injustices. And she’s working to devise programs that address addiction and mental illness as she deals with the huge backlogged number of cases she inherited. She has to work in an environment of harsh blowback when she tries to make changes to address problems with the status quo. She plaintively had said that she feared white supremacists in the county but did not characterize the whole county that way, though her opponents rushed to claim that. The press plays a role in vilifying her, too, depicting her comments as “scathing” or (here at Classic City News) “insensitive.” The county’s home paper, the Oconee Enterprise, described her email as "ripping Oconee” or “wrong to demonize Oconee.” The Enterprise is routinely, harshly critical and sometimes just plain wrong; for example, the paper claimed her office does not prosecute shoplifters. (She does.) Many portrayals about her apology also characterize her email as a response only to that incident of violence against a Democrat, and oh, boy, do her detractors love the fact that the man who assaulted the Democrat wasn’t even from Oconee! But she was calling out the dangerous derision in Oconee that never lets up, never seeks any kind of spirit of joint problem-solving based on facts while recognizing our common humanity. There is never, ever any effort to understand why changes are long overdue. Much of the ugly vitriol toward Democrats in Oconee is hidden from a wider public in private facebook sites. Many leaders in the community know about these hidden-in-the-shadows, clannish groups that make her life more fearful (and worry my mother, I might add) but do nothing to ask them to ratchet down their rhetoric. So hopefully the D.A. Gonzalez’s letter of apology will be followed by an apology from the bullies themselves, those who denigrate others in the harshest terms simply for working to even up the scales of justice, a cherished ideal in America. It’s their turn. Please broker those apologies.

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Eric Gisler
Eric Gisler
Jan 22, 2022

Can one of you guys whining about rising crime rates offer any facts whatsoever? Because according to the ACC PD, some crimes are up, others are significantly down since DA Gonzalez took over. https://accpd-public-transparency-site-athensclarke.hub.arcgis.com/pages/crime The truth is that the DA probably has very little impact on that at all. But, I guess in a world of "alternative facts" that seem to support your position, actual statistics don't much matter.

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Jarvis T
Jarvis T
Jan 23, 2022
Replying to

That’s the ticket. Remember, in a workers paradise of a socialist utopian society, you don’t have to worry about thinking for yourself. The government will do it for you. It takes a lot of pressure off the individual. Gives them more time to think about preserving the rights of rapists and gangbangers and can collectors and pick pockets and welfare cheats and drug dealers and carjackers

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The level of hysteria in the writings of these "crime fighters" makes me think they have no idea how safe their communities actually are. In the 30 years I've lived in Athens, we have always had some level of property crime, some gang activity, and every couple of years a spectacular murder that makes the Atlanta news. Do you ever actually go downtown and walk around, or are you too chicken to even get out of your car? Are you terrified to walk past a group of noisy teenagers? You need to grow a pair. You sound insane. There is some rise in crime corresponding to DA Gonzalez's tenure, because a whole lot of people have been suddenly out of…

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Unknown member
Jan 21, 2022
Replying to

You cannot dismiss the obvious and verifiable rise in crime and violence in Athens by comparing us to other areas/periods with historically higher crime. This is disingenuous and obscuring the point. You seem to imply that because we are not yet at those levels we have nothing to complain or be concerned about, that rises in crime and violence should not be addressed until they reach crisis levels.

Our point is that people like you and DA Gonzales who implement and support radical leftist policies will inevitably allow us to get to that point before addressing the causes and that we should not allow that to happen. You will downplay and excuse criminals and their violence until it is too…

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To Pat Priest. Thank you for your article because you clearly document that DA Gonzales does not have the temperament to be a DA and uphold her oath of office but that she is driven by a bias that makes her tone deaf and blind to applying the law and dealing with the local crime trends. Clearly, she has resorted to embellishing some aspect of a story or making it all up using inflammatory language (like Jesse Smollett) to draw attention to herself and create problems. Perhaps she believes that being soft on criminals somehow incentivizes them to be better citizens. This theory of restorative justice tis her mantra is an excuse to be pro-criminal. There is no evidence tha…

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Jarvis T
Jarvis T
Jan 21, 2022
Replying to

Yes, other district attorneys HAVE faced this flak!

The new New York City district attorney and the LA district attorney for making these boneheaded progressive criminal loving policies. Didn’t you hear in the news the other day that an off duty LA police officer was killed by gang members and the LA County sheriffs office is so disgusted with the LA county district attorneys office and has such a lack of confidence in them that he bypassed the LA County district attorney and went straight to the federal district attorney to get a more harsher prosecution? is that not registering with the LA County district attorney? Knowing how arrogant he is, he’ll simply dig his heels in and not realize…


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I don’t disagree with John G & STFU84058 on choices, good vs bad & their consequences. Our society has a big problem beginning with how all children are raised at home, whether by one or both of their parents. To begin finding & implementing solutions also begins at home. I would suggest that you two get together a program to begin in jr high & grow into high school with a mission to make up for the deficits in the home. Whatever the cause, the kids most at risk are in need of good role models who can speak from experience of having made bad choices in their lives that cost them their freedom & having made good choices from…

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Jarvis T
Jarvis T
Jan 20, 2022
Replying to

Yes. But I’m sure the DA, Commissioners and mayor would not be receptive to my idea.

it’s called CRIME & PUNISHMENT! it’s called accepting the consequences of your actions instead of now counting on allies in the DA, Commissioners and mayor to get you off the hook.

Better yet, just open Rudolf Giuliani's playbook and do exactly what he did!

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emccorkle
emccorkle
Jan 20, 2022

Please move to Clarke County! They are your people.

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Jarvis T
Jarvis T
Jan 21, 2022
Replying to

Unfortunately the only kinship I see blossoming in major progressive cities, to include Athens is the kinship between the mayors, commissioners, district attorneys and the criminals. They all seem to be on the same team

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