Students Abductions Thwarted

BY DAVID STOKES

Southwest Atlanta parents, in particular, have become "anxious and nervous" with recent goings-on of last week, from March 17 to March 20, as within that four-day period, children have been approached by a stranger at bus stops or as they walked to school, seeking to entice the minors to be abducted into a vehicle or truck during the early morning hours.

On Thursday, March 20, a young male was approached by a driver in a blue van as he walked to M. Agnes Jones Elementary on Fair St., in southwest Atlanta, according to an incident report given to Atlanta Police (APD). Prior to that incident, on Tuesday, March 18, another minor male was approached while at a bus stop as he was en route to his school, Crawford W. Long Middle School, on Lavonia Drive, SW. Also, on last Monday, March 17, as she walked to Washington High School for classes, a female reported that she was approached by a man driving a "red car," according to an APD report, and ran from the car when the driver attempted to entice her to enter the car. Washington High is located at M.L. King, Jr. Drive and White House Dr., SW, less than one mile away from The Atlanta Inquirer newspaper office. As all of the children escaped their attempted abductor last week and were uninjured, the southwest community bordering M.L. King and nearby communities are on edge, concerned for the safety of their, and other neighboring, children.

At presstime, Elizabeth Espy, APD's deputy manager of public relations, indicated that "no new" clues or leads to apprehend the perpetrator existed when queried by a reporter of the three kidnapping attempts on the children. Nevertheless, parents have begun not only walking with their children to school, following the March 17 incident, but have also begun community patrols within the aforementioned areas of last week's attempted abductions. "We are going to do everything we can to make sure our kids are safe when going to school," indicated Cheryl Howard, who stated being the aunt of an M. Agnes Jones Elementary fourth grader. "It just doesn't make any sense for (children) to have to be afraid to walk to school," the Lawson Street resident said. Along with parents coordinating patrols throughout neighborhoods bordering schools, the 360 Movement neighborhood units have also begun going door-to-door to assist parents with assuring their children will be safe when traveling to school each weekday morning, Ms. Howard said. With the Washington High attempted abduction, furthermore, one mother found it "downright ballsy" for an attempt to occur "in broad daylight in the morning" for a high school student. "The nerve of anybody driving up to a student, thinking he or she will get into a car, near a high school really takes the cake," exclaimed Teresa Milten, at the nearby Wal-Mart store in the Westside Village shopping plaza. "It goes to show that nobody is safe any place or anywhere (sic)." Another Wal-Mart patron, Minnie Davis, shook her head, reminiscing on the recent week's events, and likened them to 1979-82's children's kidnapping's which later became the infamous Atlanta Missing and Murdered children's cases. "I hope we are not going to end up going through another group of killings of children," the 40-year Vine City resident said. "I don't think the city can survive that again."

With last Thursday's attempted abduction, Atlanta Public Schools (APS) officials sent notification to M. Agnes Jones Elementary parents informing of the incident, and urging them to outline "Stranger Danger" safety procedures to children to prevent future incidents. (APS spokeswoman Kimberly Green did not reply by presstime to a request for comment pertaining to the incidents.) Nevertheless, with another nine weeks before the end of the 2013-14 school year, parents are being cautious and are one alert for their children's safety. "The kids are really safe nowhere these days," Ms. Howard stated. "I thought that this short distance to walk to (M. Agnes Jones Elementary) would never be an issue. I was wrong."


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City, County Recognize Civil Rights Activist

Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed (right) makes remarks—and shares a laugh—with decades-long civil rights activist Lonnie King (left) upon city council members, Fulton Co. commissioners, state representatives and other civil rights workers honoring King during a proclamations ceremony, on Monday, March 17, at Atlanta City Hall's council chambers for his 50-plus years of service with advocating and promoting human rights advancement and equality for all mankind. Also shown is Fulton Co. Commissioner Rob Pitts, who presented King with the county's proclamation on March 17.

PHOTO COURTESY OF CHARLES BLACK


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Capitol Protests Net More Arrests

BY DAVID STOKES

BY DAVID STOKES

As the 2014 General Assembly was nearing an end to an otherwise short Legislative session last week, due to impending campaigns for re-election by many state lawmakers in November, activists and other citizens seeking for Georgia to expand Medicaid, in particular, packed the state Capitol in downtown Atlanta last week in one last attempt for Ga. Gov. Nathan Deal (R-Gainesville) and his floor leaders to do an about-face and accept federal funds initiated by the Obama administration that will ensure the poor with various benefits.

During a hectic day which entailed various press conferences, as well as inside Senate gallery exhortations toward legislators, on last Tuesday, March 18, Capitol police eventually arrested various religious and community activists from inside the Senate gallery, along with others who sat and kneeled in protest in front of Gov. Deal's second floor office. Among those arrested and taken to the Fulton Co. jail were the Rev. Rapheal Warnock, senior pastor of Ebenezer Baptist Church in northeast Atlanta; the Rev. Fred D. Taylor, retired direct action coordinator for the SCLC; Joe Beasley, Southeast regional director for the Rainbow PUSH Coalition in Atlanta, and the Rev. Francys Johnson, president of the Georgia state NAACP. Activists have maintained their stance to persuade Gov. Deal to change his mind to accept Medicaid funds from the federal government that will assist in over one-half million Georgians receive healthcare benefits. Under the 'Moral Monday' movement of activism by community leaders, civil disobedience was displayed on the damp and cold Tuesday as the 2014 Legislative calendar was near adjournment (scheduled to occur on March 21, at presstime). Capitol officers arrested protesters in three parts of the Gold Dome where, along with the Medicaid issue, abortion, the state budget, creation of new cities and other concerns were primary in their minds to continue lobbying legislators. Nevertheless, the Medicaid expansion issue took center stage as protesters heckled lawmakers and disrupted comments from speakers at their floor well. Also, the Rev. Warnock and others commented on Deal's consternation in accepting federal funds to otherwise not assist 650,000 Georgians with medical assistance. "History will not be kind to those who stand in front and block hospital doors," Warnock exclaimed. After his fiery speech, Warnock marched with others, and sat, waiting to be arrested. Handcuffed by Capitol cops and hauled off to jail, Warnock proclaimed, "this is a small price to pay for those who are handcuffed to poverty." Rainbow PUSH's Joe Beasley indicated that while their protests might not change Gov. Deal's mind and accept Medicaid funds, his re-election is at risk from his stance on the issue. "This could cost him the election," Beasley stated. "I do see another Democrat" as Georgia's governor, adding that state Sen. Jason Carter of Decatur is an "attractive and empathetic" candidate who will take heed of the people's concerns.

In the Senate gallery, for example, protesters were arrested, too, while chanting, "Our lives matter! Expand Medicaid now!" However, GOP legislators continue to opine that the Affordable Care Act is seen as expensive and will hurt the poor more than it is anticipated to assist with healthcare needs. Also, Gov. Deal states that Georgia cannot afford expanding Medicaid after initial federal aid is eliminated. Presently, the Affordable Care Act—or 'Obamacare'—requires the federal government to cover 100 percent of medical expenses for the first three years, and no less than 90 percent afterwards. With nearly 50 arrested last week in the Capitol, the 'Moral Monday' movement continues to grow with momentum, either in Georgia, South Carolina, Tennessee or the originating state of North Carolina, created in 2007 by activists to bring social concerns to state lawmakers "to respond to the plight of all people everywhere in need of the government's assistance," exclaimed the Rev. William Barber of North Carolina's NAACP earlier this year. Nonetheless, while he was non-committal on endorsing a candidate for the gubernatorial race to be determined this November, the Rev. Warnock of Ebenezer Baptist stated further that "overtaking" the state Legislature was "important, for we 'Moral Monday' movement members to engage (lawmakers) in the 'march madness' and counterattack the level of obstruction by state government" for its citizenry. Gov. Deal is standing in the doorway of all (Georgians) to reap the full benefits of citizenship, and we had to send a clear message that business as usual must cease while the poor and disenfranchised are being hindered" with no healthcare benefits. Warnock also relayed last week that 'Moral Monday' movement's next plan of action is "to be focused on the November elections, as well as registering people to vote, along with registering those into the Affordable Care Act, to advance the principles of a common good." He concluded, that the people, in the end, will "remember those (government) leaders who stood on their side."