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WABE’s Week In Review: Bottoms Out On Reelection And Trial Set In Arbery Killing

Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms at a press conference announcing in December 2020.
Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms at a press conference announcing in December 2020.
Credit Emil Moffatt/WABE

In a surprise announcement, Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms announced Thursday she will not seek reelection following her first term in office.

Bottoms said the last three years were not what she would have scripted for Atlanta, reported WABE’s Lisa Hagen. She said it was time to pass the baton.

“I don’t know what’s next for me personally and for our family,” said Bottoms on Friday. “But what I do know is that this is a decision made from a position of strength and not weakness.”

Bottoms was once considered a possible candidate for Joe Biden’s vice president. Money from a March fundraiser headlined by the president will be returned to donors immediately, according to Bottoms.

Who is next?

With Bottoms out in the upcoming election, attention now turns to who will be Atlanta’s new mayor.

WABE’s Jim Burress spoke to DuBose Porter, former minority leader of the Georgia House and  former head of the Democratic Party of Georgia.

Trial date set for three white men in killing on Black jogger… 

This combo of booking photos provided by the Glynn County, Ga., Detention Center, shows from left, Travis McMichael, his father Gregory McMichael, and William “Roddie” Bryan Jr. CREDIT GLYNN COUNTY DETENTION CENTER VIA AP

A Georgia judge Friday scheduled an October trial for three white men charged with murder in the slaying of Ahmaud Arbery, a 25-year-old Black man who was chased and shot while running in the defendants’ neighborhood.

Superior Court Judge Timothy Walmsley issued a notice stating that jury selection will begin Oct. 18, with the trial commencing as soon as a jury is seated.

Greg McMichael and his grown son, Travis McMichael, armed themselves and pursued Arbery in a pickup truck on Feb. 23, 2020, just outside the port city of Brunswick, about 70 miles (110 kilometers) south of Savannah. A neighbor, William “Roddie” Bryan, joined the chase and took cellphone video of Travis McMichael shooting Arbery at close range as they grappled over a shotgun.

Defense attorneys for the three men charged have insisted they committed no crimes. They have said the McMichaels suspected Arbery was a burglar and that Travis McMichael shot him in self-defense.

Authorities didn’t bring charges in the case until more than two months later when the video became public and sparked a national outcry over the case.

All three defendants have been jailed without bond since their arrests.

Fired Atlanta cop on trial for murder gets reinstated…

This screen grab taken from body camera video provided by the Atlanta Police Department shows Rayshard Brooks speaking with Officer Garrett Rolfe, left, in the parking lot of a Wendy's restaurant in Atlanta on June 12.
In this June 12, 2020, file photo from a screen grab taken from body camera video provided by the Atlanta Police Department Rayshard Brooks, right, speaks with Officer Garrett Rolfe, left, in the parking lot of a Wendy’s restaurant, in Atlanta. Former Atlanta Police Officer, Rolfe’s attorney said Thursday, April 22, 2021, that his client didn’t get a chance to defend himself before he was fired for fatally shooting Brooks, a Black man who had been running away from two white officers after he resisted arrest and fired a stun gun at one of them. (Atlanta Police Department via AP, File)

The firing of the Atlanta police officer charged with murder in the killing of Rayshard Brooks last summer was reversed Wednesday by the Atlanta Civil Service Board.

Garrett Rolfe, who is white, was fired a day after he shot Brooks, a 27-year-old Black man, in a south Atlanta Wendy’s drive-thru. Rolfe was charged with felony murder. The Civil Service Board agreed that Rolfe should have the right to appeal his firing, but the Board did not render a judgment on Rolfe’s actions.

The Atlanta Police Department will have to weigh whether it could fire him again.

“Nothing is to prevent APD from following the procedures it should have followed in the first place,” said WABE Legal Analyst Page Pate to Closer Look’s Rose Scott. “There are reasons why he should clearly be terminated.”

Rolfe will still receive payment while he’s on administrative leave, until his criminal charges are resolved, according to Pate.

The case could take some time as Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis has tried to recuse herself from his case. It was her predecessor, Paul Howard, who brought the murder charge against Rolfe.

More funding for Pre-K means retaining more teachers…

A new report from the Georgia Budget and Policy Institute says state lawmakers should allocate more money toward the Pre-Kindergarten program. (Kaitlin Kolarik/For WABE)

A new analysis of Georgia’s public Pre-Kindergarten program shows several providers would benefit from more state funding. The Georgia Budget and Policy Institute (GBPI) surveyed 38% of the state’s Pre-K directors.

“We wanted to get the perspectives of those implementing this program on how they interact with funding,” says Stephen Owens, a senior policy analyst with GBPI who authored the report. “Is it adequate? Is it covering all their needs in order to set students up for kindergarten?”

48% of the survey’s respondents said they don’t receive enough money from the state to implement high-quality programs. 32% said state funding is sufficient.

What is ‘herd immunity?’

Nearly a third of adults in the U.S. have gotten at least one shot of the COVID-19 vaccine so far, but researchers warn that vaccine refusal may keep the country from reaching herd immunity.
Nearly a third of adults in the U.S. have gotten at least one shot of the COVID-19 vaccine so far, but researchers warn that vaccine refusal may keep the country from reaching herd immunity. (John Tlumacki/The Boston Globe via Getty Images)

Listen to the latest episode of our coronavirus podcast, “Did You Wash Your Hands?” 

In this episode, Justin Lessler, an epidemiologist at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, says we’ll reach herd immunity eventually. What’s less certain is how many people will get sick and die along the way.