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WABE’s Week In Review: Changing The State’s Citizen’s Arrest Law And Florida V. Georgia In Water Wars

Gov. Brian Kemp, right, bumps fists Tuesday with Democratic Rep. Carl Gilliard of Garden City at the state Capitol in Atlanta. Kemp announced a plan to abolish Georgia's citizen's arrest law, partly blamed in the 2020 shooting death of Ahmaud Arbery near Brunswick.
Gov. Brian Kemp, right, bumps fists Tuesday with Democratic Rep. Carl Gilliard of Garden City at the state Capitol in Atlanta. Kemp announced a plan to abolish Georgia's citizen's arrest law, partly blamed in the 2020 shooting death of Ahmaud Arbery near Brunswick.
Credit Jeff Amy / Associated Press

Gov. Brian Kemp is pushing a bipartisan proposal to repeal Georgia’s controversial citizen’s arrest law. The statute is being used to defend the men who chased and shot Ahmaud Arbery in Brunswick nearly a year ago.

Political limbo for two police excessive force cases … 

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.
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. (Atlanta Police Department via AP)

Two high-profile cases of Atlanta police using excessive force this past summer are in political limbo, according to lawyers for the victims and their families. WABE’s Lisa Hagen reported those attorneys met with the new Fulton County district attorney Tuesday.

Lawyers for two college students pulled out of their car and tased by Atlanta police during summer protests say they want a special prosecutor on the case. So did lawyers for the family of Rayshard Brooks, who Atlanta Police Department officers fatally shot in a Wendy’s parking lot in June.

Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis recused herself from prosecuting the officers who killed Brooks, one of which is charged with murder. The state attorney general has twice refused to take on the case.

“It’s frustrating that both incidents were caught on video [and] action was taken which the whole country got behind and thought was justice and then… nothing,” said attorney Chris Stewart, who represents two of the victims’ families.

“Their attention is gone. They’re totally different people,” said Charles Young, the father of college student Messiah Young — who along with Taniyah Pilgrim — was pulled from his car and tased by police. “He’s more of a recluse right now.”

The officers involved in Young and Pilgrim’s case have faced charges.

And lawyers for Brooks’ family have doubts about DA Willis’ reasons for recusal in his case. Willis says her predecessor created conflicts of interest by charging the officers involved.

An attorney for one of the officers charged with felony murder for shooting Brooks has argued in court that the case should be dismissed because of the jurisdictional battles.

Florida v. Georgia in the “Water Wars” … 

The Apalachicola River’s oyster fishery has suffered in recent years. Florida said it’s because not enough water flows out of Georgia. Georgia has said the problems are due to Florida’s own mismanagement following the Gulf of Mexico oil spill.
The Apalachicola River’s oyster fishery has suffered in recent years. Florida says it’s because not enough water flows out of Georgia, while Georgia blames Florida’s own mismanagement following the Gulf of Mexico oil spill. (Mark Wallheiser/Associated Press file)

On Monday, attorneys for Florida and Georgia will argue again over water rights in the U.S. Supreme Court. The outcome of the case will affect communities and economies in both states. WABE’s Molly Samuel worked in collaboration with WFSU in Tallahassee to break down the impacts on both states.

With and without power …

Georgia Power Building
Georgia Power says it learned from the 2014 polar vortex and has since then winterized facilities so low temperatures may not be as much of a threat here as they’ve been in Texas. (Wikimedia Commons)

The failure of the power grid in Texas has officials across the country — including here in Georgia — thinking about what comes next for energy reliability.

Georgia Power, which is owned by Southern Company, said in a statement to WABE’s Susanna Capelouto that it learned from the 2014 polar vortex, when temperatures dipped as low as minus six, and has since then winterized facilities so low temperatures may not be as much of a threat here.

But the Texas grid failure is something energy companies should learn from beyond just accounting for cold weather, according to Georgia Tech professor Emily Grubert.

“I think the overall lesson from this and from the California blackouts last year, as well, is we’re starting to see grids face challenges that are outside of what they were designed to handle,” Grubert said.

Southern Company CEO Tom Fanning said he already spoke with the Biden Administration about making electric grids not just reliable but more resilient as a matter of national security.

The COVID-19 vaccine and race …

vaccine
Georgia’s new COVID-19 vaccine dashboard shows the majority of vaccinations administered in the state have gone to white people. (Michael Ciaglo/Getty Images)

The majority of the COVID-19 vaccine doses administered in Georgia have gone to white people. WABE’s Sam Whitehead reports that’s according to the state’s new COVID-19 vaccine dashboard, launched this week.

“That’s what the dashboard is for: is to give us that data for where we need to go,” Gov. Brian Kemp said. “What do we need to do? Whether that’s in the African-American community, Latino, Asian, whatever it is.”

Kemp has said vaccine hesitancy in communities of color could be one reason for the trend. But public health experts and advocates have expressed concern the state isn’t doing enough to get doses to marginalized groups.

Remember a civil rights icon in bloom … 

A portrait of John Lewis, the longtime congressman and civil rights leader, is seen in this aerial view Thursday at Freedom Park in Atlanta. Artist Stan Herd created this earthworks piece in recognition of Lewis' life and work.
Artist Stan Herd created this earthworks piece of John Lewis, located in Atlanta’s Freedom Park, to honor the longtime congressman and civil rights leader. (Angie Wang/The Associated Press)

Volunteers are planting hundreds of trees and flowers this weekend along John Lewis Freedom Parkway in honor of the late congressman and civil rights icon. There will be more than 300 blooming trees, flowering shrubs and fields of daffodils stretching from the parkway to Boulevard.

Lewis died in July after a battle with pancreatic cancer. He would have turned 81 on Sunday.