The Georgia GOP response to unrest over policing: A gathering in College Park

Georgia Republicans have an answer to the protests that rocked metro Atlanta for five nights in a row: A community meeting featuring Attorney General Sam Olens, the party's leading African-American members, and several law enforcement representatives.

Olens, Douglas County Solicitor Matthew Krull and Georgia GOP minority engagement guru Leo Smith are among the panelists discussing "strategies to repair the relationship between law enforcement and the community." Also there will be GOP vice chair Michael McNeely, who is African-American and a former police officer.

There's no cover charge, but you have to register here to attend.

Said Smith:

"I am appreciative of the many town halls in urban Atlanta. This is effectively a contrast of style versus substance. We understand that the demands of traditional response to black struggle is venting and protest. Our response is not to create celebrities out of the struggle, but to bring the salve of concrete solutions in cooperation with Georgia's committed leaders."

On the same topic, the city's streets were largely quiet on Tuesday night, a respite from the protests. Credit the negotiations between Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed and protest organizers, who agreed to meet Monday at City Hall for a two-hour discussion after what Hizzoner called a "cooling down" period.


That was a quick backtrack: Legendary civil rights activist Andrew Young apologized for calling some of the protesters marching against police violence "unlovable little brats."

He told WSB's Sophie Choi that he never meant to offend the protesters, only to thank the police officers who showed restraint during the demonstrations.

Here's more from WSB:

“I apologize if I got overemotional,” Young told Choi about the comment.

Young said that comment was directed only at the young protesters who tried to provoke police and those who tried to run onto the interstate, putting lives in danger.

“I was panicked,” Young told Choi. “I was anxious, lest some of these young people run out on an expressway.”

Young said even his own granddaughter had some choice words for him.

“She said she was ashamed of me and she said, ‘You ought to know better,’” Young said.


In Cobb County, Republican challenger Mike Boyce is getting the kitchen sink thrown at him by supporters of incumbent Commission Chairman Tim Lee. The pair are locked in a runoff that's down to the final two weeks. Cobb First, an independent group backing Lee, is hitting Cobb mailboxes with this:


Georgia Democrats have mustered a candidate in a south Georgia district they've long sought to flip. Except the candidate won't be a Democrat.

Kenneth Zachary submitted nearly 3,000 signatures to the Secretary of State's office this week to appear on the November ballot as an independent. Democrats turned to him after James Williams was disqualified from running against Republican Rep. Gerald Greene of Cuthbert due to a redistricting error that showed he actually lives in a different district.

Zachary has also faced his own ballot turmoil. He was kicked off the ballot in the race for Calhoun County's sheriff after a judge ruled his convictions for writing bad checks disqualified him for the office. His supporters say the crime, which took place about 26 years ago, shouldn't block him from seeking office. And they are prepared to contrast him with state Rep. Tom Taylor, the Dunwoody Republican backed by party leaders despite a recent DUI offense.

Democrats have long salivated over House District 151, the only majority-minority district in Georgia that is now being represented by a white Republican. House Minority Leader Stacey Abrams has put her clout behind Zachary, a former law enforcement officer and pastor, and Williams has endorsed him.

“Whether rejecting Medicaid expansion or failing to stand up for quality public education, the incumbent has acted against the interests of this community time and time again," said House Minority Whip Carolyn Hugley. "Kenneth Zachary has received overwhelming support from the people of 151, and it is clear they are ready to elect a leader who shares their values.”


For those of you getting ready to tune into the Republican National Convention on Monday, Kyle Kondik of Larry Sabato’s Crystal Ball has an excellent historical look at why and how Ohio became the swing state that it is. A few paragraphs:

The Western Reserve -- Cuyahoga County (containing the city of Cleveland) and its neighbors in the northeastern part of the state -- was once part of Connecticut. It was largely settled by people from Connecticut and other Northeastern states.

Northeast Ohio, even today, votes a lot like Connecticut does.

A big part of the central and southwestern parts of the state were reserved for Virginia military veterans. This Virginia Military District was settled by Southerners. The middle of the state was largely settled by people from the Middle Atlantic and other parts of the country.


One can’t ignore the eloquence that came out of Dallas on Tuesday, from both President Barack Obama and former President George W. Bush. From the New York Times:

“I’m here to insist that we are not as divided as we seem,” Mr. Obama said at a memorial service for the officers in Dallas, where he quoted Scripture, alluded to Yeats and at times expressed a sense of powerlessness to stop the racial violence that has marked his presidency. But Mr. Obama also spoke hard truths to both sides….

 “We cannot simply turn away and dismiss those in peaceful protest as troublemakers or paranoid,” Mr. Obama said to applause. “We can’t simply dismiss it as a symptom of political correctness or reverse racism. To have your experience denied like that, dismissed by those in authority, dismissed perhaps even by your white friends and co-workers and fellow church members again and again and again — it hurts.”

But the president also turned to the protesters of the Black Lives Matter movement and said they were too quick to condemn the police. “Protesters, you know it,” Mr. Obama said. “You know how dangerous some of the communities where these police officers serve are, and you pretend as if there’s no context. These things we know to be true.”


The National Rifle Association is under fire for its lack of defense of Philando Castile, the African-American killed in Minnesota by a police officer after a traffic stop. Castile was carrying, but had a concealed weapons permit. From the Washington Post:

But the [NRA] is in a bind, said Josh Sugarmann, the executive director of the Violence Policy Center, who has written extensively on the history and politics of the NRA. He said the group’s dilemma about black gun ownership dates to a shift in marketing strategy in the 1970s and 1980s.

“Until it was recognized that there was a longtime decline in household gun ownership, the NRA essentially ignored communities of color — blacks and Latinos. When they made an appearance in NRA publications, it was in the context of a threat,” he said. “What’s happened is that since the 1970s and 1980s, when about half of all Americans had a gun, that’s dropped to about a third, and there’s an acknowledgment that they’re in crisis because the traditional gun-buying public — white males — is dying off. There aren’t enough replacement shooters to fill that void, and so now they’ve been forced to reach out to the communities they once demonized.”


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About the Author

Greg Bluestein
Greg Bluestein
Greg Bluestein is a political reporter who covers the governor's office and state politics for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.