Police use anti-KKK law to arrest people protesting neo-Nazis

Published: Monday, April 23, 2018 @ 2:44 AM

Counterprotesters are held by law enforcement officers as the National Socialist Movement holds a rally at Greenville Street Park in downtown Newnan on Saturday, April 21, 2018. The far-right hate group also drew anti-fascist demonstrators as well as hundreds of police officers. (HYOSUB SHIN / AJC)
HYOSUB SHIN / AJC
Counterprotesters are held by law enforcement officers as the National Socialist Movement holds a rally at Greenville Street Park in downtown Newnan on Saturday, April 21, 2018. The far-right hate group also drew anti-fascist demonstrators as well as hundreds of police officers. (HYOSUB SHIN / AJC)(HYOSUB SHIN / AJC)

Faced with hundreds of demonstrators rallying against a crowd of neo-Nazis in Newnan, Georgia, authorities turned to a little-known Georgia law adopted in 1951 to combat the Ku Klux Klan.

>> Tension, arrests at neo-Nazi rally in metro Atlanta

The law, which makes it illegal to wear a mask at most public events, was cited in several of the arrests of counterdemonstrators who joined a protest Saturday against white supremacists.

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And the irony was not lost upon the organizers of the counterdemonstration, who were fuming Sunday that a law aimed at weakening white supremacists was used to arrest protesters who opposed a neo-Nazi rally.

“They were trying to stop us, and we were trying to dial down the racist stuff,” said Jeremy Ortega, a 19-year-old who was among the counterprotesters charged with a misdemeanor for wearing a mask.

He said many of the demonstrators wore masks to avoid being identified and threatened by white power groups.

“We were peacefully protesting, yet they put guns in our faces and told us to take our masks off,” said Ortega, who added that he is considering filing a civil lawsuit. “It made no sense.”

State and local authorities did not comment on specific allegations of abuse on Sunday. But Georgia Bureau of Investigation Director Vernon Keenan said the overwhelming security – nearly 700 law enforcement officers were on hand – helped prevent the clashes from escalating.

“Making arrests in a volatile situation is never going to be pretty,” Keenan said.

No one from the white supremacist group was arrested on Saturday, and they largely avoided confrontations with police or the counterdemonstration group. The two dozen white supremacists who attended the rally were separated from the group by an 8-foot fence – and hundreds of armed officers.

‘Remove your mask’

On Sunday, a coalition of counterprotest groups planned a vigil at the Coweta County Jail to criticize what they said was excessive violence by police.

The Huffington Post reported that a contingent of officers approached a group of 50 counterdemonstrators before the rally and demanded they remove their masks or face arrests. The news outlet wrote that officers then “grabbed those who were still masked, tossing them to the ground and handcuffing them.”

A video posted on social media by freelance journalist Daniel Shular appeared to show authorities scuffling with counterdemonstrators. Authorities demanded that the counterprotesters remove their masks, and the footage showed an officer raising his rifle at demonstrators.

“Remove your mask, or you will be arrested,” said an officer in the video, which shows a ring of demonstrators standing with their hands raised aloft. Several are chanting “hands up, don’t shoot.”

A counterprotester kneels with his hands up in front of law enforcement officers during a neo-Nazi rally at Greenville Street Park in downtown Newnan on Saturday, April 21, 2018. (HYOSUB SHIN / AJC)(HYOSUB SHIN / AJC)

An Atlanta Journal-Constitution reporter who attempted to report on the confrontation during the rally was obstructed by authorities.

Several other counterdemonstrators faced violations that have nothing to do with the anti-mask law.

Daniel Hanley was charged with obstruction of a pedestrian roadway after he said he nonviolently resisted a police officer who confronted him. He said he believes he was arrested because he was wielding a megaphone and leading chants against the white supremacists.

“They were trying to find any pretext to shut us down,” Hanley, 36, said of the authorities. “The moment we stepped foot there, they intimated us and strategically tried to target people.”

‘Absolutely satisfied’

State law bans the wearing of masks, hoods or other devices that conceal a person’s identity if they’re on public property or on private property where the owner has not consented. It includes exceptions for holidays, theatrical productions, civil emergencies and sporting events.

The laws have been adopted by about a dozen states, most aimed at weakening the KKK in the middle of the 20th century. The Georgia Supreme Court in 1990 upheld the state’s ban after a Klansman donned a hood on the Lawrenceville Square, citing his First Amendment rights.

The law has mostly been used to target KKK demonstrations, though it has also been employed before to arrest demonstrators who are objecting to white power groups. At a 2016 rally, the law was used to arrest eight demonstrators protesting a white supremacist rally at Stone Mountain Park.

Barricades and fencing are in place around a city park in Newnan as police prepared for Saturday's rally by a neo-Nazi group on Saturday, April 21, 2018. The neo-Nazis expected a turnout of 50 to 100, but only a couple dozen showed up. They were well outnumbered by counterprotesters and law enforcement officers. (HYOSUB SHIN / AJC)(HYOSUB SHIN / AJC)

In a strange turn, it also was invoked ahead of a press conference last year at the Gold Dome, when supporters of Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle threatened to hire performers in circus masks to interrupt a rival’s event. The clowns never showed up.

>> Read more trending news 

Authorities said they were intent on enforcing that law and others as they studied how law enforcement officials handled white supremacist rallies in Charlottesville, Virginia, in August 2017 to prepare for the Newnan event.

In Charlottesville, officers remained largely passive as bloody clashes raged around them, and the event soon spiraled out of control. One person was killed and dozens more were injured in the violence.

“You have to have adequate resources and the intent to enforce the law,” Keenan said. “We had both.”

He said officers made clear to both groups that masks and some weapons were not allowed. He said authorities found an abandoned backpack with smoke bombs at one checkpoint. State law allows demonstrators to carry firearms if they are licensed; on Saturday, several were spotted sporting firearms.

“We maintained security. We would not let there be disorder. We didn’t have civil disorder, property damage. And we had just a few arrests,” Keenan said. “We are absolutely satisfied.”

MORE COVERAGE FROM AJC.COM: 

>> Reports from Newnan as the rally and counterprotest were underway

>> How social media reacted

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Rapper Offset, of trio Migos, arrested in metro Atlanta on weapon, drug charges

Published: Saturday, July 21, 2018 @ 1:11 AM

Rapper Offset, of the trio Migos, was arrested Friday in metro Atlanta on weapon and drug charges.
Clayton County Police Department
Rapper Offset, of the trio Migos, was arrested Friday in metro Atlanta on weapon and drug charges.(Clayton County Police Department)

Rapper Offset, of the trio Migos, was arrested Friday on weapon and drug charges in Georgia, WSB reports

Clayton County police said the rapper, whose real name is Kiari Cephus, and his bodyguard, Senay Gezahgn, were traveling in Jonesboro, just outside Atlanta, when the 2014 Porsche 911 Carrera that Offset was driving was pulled over after an improper lane change. 

>> Read more trending news 

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Rapper Offset (L) and his bodyguard, Senay Gezahgn (R) were arrested during a traffic stop in metro Atlanta. They were arrested on weapons and drug charges.(Clayton County Police Department)

During a search, officers found three handguns, less than 1 ounce of marijuana and more than $107,000 in cash.

Offset was charged with improper lane change; possession of marijuana, less than 1 ounce; possession of a weapon by a convicted felon and possession of a weapon during the commission of a crime.

Gezahgn was charged with possession of marijuana, less than 1 ounce, and possession of a weapon during the commission of a crime.

This is not Offset’s first run-in with the law.

He was arrested in 2016 for driving with a suspended license. In 2015, all three members of Migos were arrested for drug and gun charges during a concert at Georgia Southern University, Billboard reported.

Offset and his wife, rapper Cardi B, just welcomed their first child together last week.

Offset and Cardi B pose backstage for Prabal Gurung during New York Fashion Week on February 11, 2018.(Astrid Stawiarz, Getty Images)

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Baby found dead after mom left him home alone for 10 hours while she worked, police say

Published: Sunday, July 22, 2018 @ 10:46 AM

Mom Arrested After Baby Found Dead After Being Left Home Alone for 10 Hours, Police Say

An Arizona mother is in jail after police said she went to work and left her 1-year-old son alone in their apartment, where he was found dead 10 hours later.

>> Missing baby found dead near slough after 5-day search

According to court documents obtained by KTVK, Donielle Joyce King, 32, of Phoenix, was arrested and charged with child abuse after first responders found the boy unresponsive Tuesday afternoon. 

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King told investigators that she left the baby at home about 6:20 a.m. Tuesday before dropping off her other children at day care and going to work, the probable cause statement said. She claimed the baby could not go to day care because he "had open sores," court documents said. She also reportedly told investigators that a friend was supposed to babysit but never showed up.

>> Read more trending news 

King said she came back home at 4:15 p.m. and found the baby unresponsive on a mattress, investigators said. She said she performed CPR on the child as her daughter called 911, court documents said.

The baby, who reportedly had several bruises, was pronounced dead about 4:47 p.m., court documents said.

King is being held on a $50,000 bond.

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Singer Michelle Williams updates fans after reports she checked into mental health facility

Published: Sunday, July 22, 2018 @ 12:31 PM

Getting To Know Michelle Williams

Michelle Williams posted a quick update for fans Friday after a report emerged that she checked herself into a mental health facility for depression.

>> Read more trending news 

Entertainment Tonight reported that the former Destiny’s Child singer tweeted, “Progress not Perfection!” along with a screenshot from her Instagram story that read, “I feel the (heart emoji)! I just wanted to let you guys know I’m better (praying hands emoji)!”

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On Tuesday, TMZ reported that Williams checked into a mental health facility. Although Williams has not explicitly confirmed the website’s report, she made a post on social media about seeking help when needed that same day.

Related: Destiny’s Child singer Michelle Williams checks in to mental health facility, reports say

“For years I have dedicated myself to increasing awareness of mental health and empowering people to recognize when it’s time to seek help, support and guidance from those that love and care for your wellbeing,” Williams wrote. “I recently listened to the same advice I have given to thousands around the world and sought help from a great team of healthcare professionals.”

After her post, Williams was met with support from friends and fellow musicians, including Beyonce’s mother, Tina Knowles Lawson, and sister, Solange Knowles. Missy Elliot also expressed support, tweeting, “I want to lift our sis up in prayer because there are so many people battling this & many trying to deal with it alone. Please No jokes this is REAL & as human beings let’s keep the ones who are openly dealing with it uplifted & be encouraging to them! Love u.”

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Grandmother shot, 1 woman dead, suspect in custody after hostage situation at Los Angeles Trader Joe’s

Published: Sunday, July 22, 2018 @ 6:15 AM
Updated: Sunday, July 22, 2018 @ 6:15 AM

File photo. (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)
Joe Raedle/Getty Images
File photo. (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)(Joe Raedle/Getty Images)

One woman is dead and a suspect in custody after dozens of people were held hostage Saturday during a standoff at a Los Angeles Trader Joe’s supermarket.

Here are the latest updates:

Update 9:06 a.m. EDT July 22: The Associated Press reported that police are working to determine why a man shot his grandmother and wounded another woman before crashing a car into a Los Angeles Trader Joe’s, holding dozens of people hostage.

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According to police, the suspect, who has not been identified, shot his grandmother seven times and wounded a woman he forced into his car. Another woman was shot and killed when he ran into the Trader Joe’s.

Police Chief Michel Moore told The AP it was not clear if the woman who was killed outside the store died from police gunfire or was killed by the gunman when he exchanged fire with police.

Six people, ages 12 to 81, are in the hospital, according to fire officials. None were shot and all were in fair condition.

Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti, center, and Police Chief Michel Moore, right, brief the media at a news conference after a gunman held dozens of people hostage inside a Trader Joe's supermarket before surrendering to police in Los Angeles Saturday, July 21, 2018. (AP Photo/Damian Dovarganes)(Damian Dovarganes/AP)

Update 6:05 a.m. EDT July 22: Trader Joe’s has released a statement about Saturday’s deadly standoff in Los Angeles.

“Our hearts are broken over what happened today,” read the statement obtained by KNBC. “This has been an incredible trauma, and our thoughts are with our Crew Members and customers. Our focus is on doing whatever we can to support them at this time. We appreciate everything Los Angeles law enforcement did to ensure an end to this ordeal.”

 

Original report: A man crashed a car and ran into a Los Angeles grocery store Sunday afternoon and took hostages during a standoff with police, authorities said. 

>> Read more trending news

The man was taken into custody after a tense standoff with police. 

 

A hostage was killed during the incident, the Associated Press reported. 

 

The incident started with the shooting of an older and younger woman in a residential area around 1:30 p.m., Los Angeles Police officer Mike Lopez told CNN. The Associated Press reported that the younger woman suffered a graze wound.

The shooter then fled in a Toyota Camry and crashed at a Trader Joe’s, before running into the store.

"We can confirm that there is an active barricaded suspect within a #TraderJoes in #Silverlake. An active tac-alert has been declared to ensure all resources necessary will be available. Please continue to stay clear of the area," Los Angeles police tweeted.

 

A 20-year-old woman was taken to a hospital and is in fair condition, CNN reported

Video shows police carrying shields and ushering out a man who has his hands raised. A person who appears to be injured was carried off, and other people could be seen climbing out of the store down a rope ladder. 

Los Angeles Police SWAT officers escort a group of people who were held for their safety by police across businesses surrounding a Trader Joe's supermarket, after a gunman held dozens of people hostage inside the store before surrendering to police in Los Angeles Saturday, July 21, 2018. (AP Photo/Damian Dovarganes)(Damian Dovarganes/AP)

President Donald Trump and Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti have tweeted about the standoff. Trump’s tweet has since been removed.

 

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