The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

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Spelman College to Consider Admitting Transgender Women

Spelman College will be convening a task force to provide recommendations on whether it will be accepting transgender women, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports.

President Mary Schmidt Campbell included the announcement in a welcome-back letter to students at the all-women HBCU.

“Ingrid Hayes, vice president for Enrollment Management will convene a task force that makes a recommendation to the president on the admission and enrollment of transgender students,” the note read in part.

Read more.
BREAKING: Fears Of Terrorism Overtake Public Hearing About A Proposed Muslim Cemetery Already Approved By Newton County, GA [TW: Islamophobia, Ethnocentrism]
Two separate meetings had to be held in order to allow 600 local residents to voice their concerns. Many spoke out against the proposed Muslim cemetery citing terrorism, ISIS, assimilation, and refugees.
By Talal Ansari

Two hearings erupted in staunch opposition to a planned Muslim cemetery in Newton County, Georgia — 35 miles east of Atlanta — on Monday, with people raising issues such as terrorism, refugees, and ISIS.

The meetings, which were attended by 600 people and lasted three total hours, follow a vote last week that placed a five-week moratorium on any new plans or proposals for new religious structures after the commissioners and residents learned of plans to build a Muslim cemetery in the county.

A videotaped interview by The Atlanta Journal-Constitution with Teresa Standard, a Newton resident since 1966, said she worries the land will be used as an ISIS training camp. Standard said she heard that a similar plan was developed in another part of Georgia and now “has nothing but barns and ISIS training camps.”

“I am totally against everything they represent because I believe in God and the Holy Bible,” Standard said.

“I do not want to see our country turn into a totally Muslim community which has happened in other cities and towns that have allowed it,” she continued, adding that, “I’m sure there are some good peaceful Muslims in the group that’s doing this but with the world situation, I have no way of knowing which ones are safe and which ones are not.”

“And they all dress similar. I don’t know what they’re up to and i don’t like it in my county,” Standard said.

The initial permit for the Muslim cemetery was approved more than a year ago. Since then, no other plans or proposals have been submitted by the group behind the cemetery.

Many of the comments at the hearing — the vast majority of which focused on religion and terrorism, with other comments touching on concerns of traffic, property values, and noise — were often followed by raucous applause and cheers.

Last week, the Georgia chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations, the Georgia chapter of the NAACP, the ACLU of Georgia, and 20 other non-profits and Muslim organizations called on the Department of Justice to investigate Newton County for religious discrimination.

The moratorium, which was approved unanimously last week by Newton’s Board of Commissioners, is not retroactive and only applies to new religious structures, despite numerous reports to the contrary last week.

County Commissioner John Douglas, who called for the motion for the five-week moratorium, brought up the resettling of Muslim refugees in the country a concern in another WXIA news report last week.

Douglas fended off calls for his resignation, and eventually apologized last year when it was revealed that he wrote a racist comment on a picture on Facebook that showed an African-American woman showing her middle finger while appearing to wipe her buttocks with an American flag.

“We have already seen bombings and beheadings. Eight years ago our US government got a Muslim president who has put Muslims in power,” said one unidentified woman at the meeting, according to a report from Atlanta TV station WXIA.

“It’s hard for folks like me and most of you tonight to draw the line between innocent Muslims and radical Muslims since they all claim to serve the same God and they all claim to follow the same book,” said another man who spoke at the meeting.

Mohammad Islam, an Imam of the Al Maad Al Islami Mosque in Doraville, Georgia, and the man behind the proposed cemetery, told Atlanta affiliate Fox 5 that the cemetery would serve mostly Bangladeshi middle to lower income Muslims for burials.

“We will pray. It’s probably five minutes. Not five minutes, three minutes…our prayer is three to five minutes. We’ll bury and we’ll come back,” Islam said of what would occur at the proposed cemetery when burials occur.

“There is no camp,” Islam said, slightly laughing at his own statement when asked of resident fears of an ISIS camp.

A Facebook group called “STOP the Mosque Newton County Ga.,” has garnered over 700 likes and has been actively posting news stories, real and fake, about terrorism, Muslims, Islam and refugees, in addition to the occasional hate speech.

Amid the many public speakers who opposed the cemetery and mosque, there were some, including one woman who identified herself as Jewish, that had a warning for those in attendance.

“If this discussion was happening 100 years ago, there’s a good chance it would be happening about my people,” she said according to footage from WXIA . “And a hundred years or so ago, millions of people my people, including my great aunt, were sent to their deaths.”

United States Congressman who called Yesha Jews 'termites' toured Israel - 14 August 2016

Rep. Hank Johnson, D-Ga., who apologized last month after likening Jews living in Judea and Samaria to “termites,” toured the area this year with a pro-Palestinian group.
The Atlanta Journal Constitution on Wednesday reported that Johnson took part in May of a tour of Judea, Samaria, and Jerusalem hosted by Miftah, which supports “an independent, democratic and sovereign Palestinian state.”
The trip, which included Johnson’s wife, DeKalb County commissioner Mereda Davis Johnson, and several other congressional Democrats, was also underwritten by the American Global Institute, which promotes overseas travel for lawmakers.
Such trips are commonplace; the Journal Constitution report came as part of the newspaper’s investigation into the travel of the state’s congressional delegation. Three U.S. House Republicans from the state, Buddy Carter, Barry Loudermilk and Rick Allen, toured Judea and Samaria a year ago on the biennial trip hosted by the American Israel Educational Foundation, an affiliate of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee.
Johnson, addressing pro-Palestinian groups on the sidelines of last month’s Democratic National Convention, had said Jewish communities beyond the Green Line were “almost like termites [that] can get into a residence and eat before you know that you’ve been eaten up and you fall in on yourself.”
After clarifying that he meant only to say that settlement activity is slowly undermining a two-state solution, Johnson apologized, and in recent days has reached out to Atlanta Jewish leaders.

Atlanta Man Gets 40 Years for Throwing Boiling Water on Sleeping Gay Couple: 'You Were Soulless'
An Atlanta man will spend 40 years in prison after he was found guilty this week in a “soulless” anti-gay attack on a couple this spring, when he threw boiling hot water on them as they slept, according to multiple reports.

Martin Blackwell was convicted of 10 counts – two counts of aggravated assault and eight counts of aggravated battery – in the February attack on Anthony Gooden and Marquez Tolbert, according to the Associated Press, Atlanta Journal-Constitution and Washington Post.

He was found guilty on Wednesday, according to court records. The jury deliberated for about 90 minutes after the brief trial, according to the AP. (The Fulton County District Attorney did not immediately respond to PEOPLE’s request for comment.)

Prosecutors have said that on the night of the attack, Blackwell filled the largest pot in his home with water and set it to boil before tossing it on Gooden and Tolbert, who were sleeping and who had been dating about a month, according to the AJC and AP.

The pair had been staying with Gooden’s mother, who was dating Blackwell, according to the AP.

“You were soulless, malicious and a violent person [during the attack],” Fulton County Superior Court Judge Henry Newkirk said to Blackwell Wednesday before sentencing him, according to the AJC.

Prosecutors argued that Blackwell was motivated by a specific kind of hate: homophobia. Tolbert testified at trial that Blackwell grabbed him after the attack and said, “Get out of my house with all that gay,” according to the AP.

Gooden and Tolbert’s injuries were severe, according to reports: The former was hospitalized for about a month, including two weeks in a coma, and the latter was hospitalized for 10 days. Both men had several surgeries, according to the AP – and both testified at Blackwell’s trial.

Georgia does not have a hate crime law, but the FBI has said it opened a hate crime investigation. (The status of that probe was not immediately clear and an FBI spokesman in Atlanta did not immediately respond to PEOPLE’s request for comment.)

Want to keep up with the latest crime coverage? Click here to get breaking crime news, ongoing trial coverage and details of intriguing unsolved cases in the True Crime Newsletter.

Blackwell’s defense attorneys did not present any evidence at trial or call any witnesses, according to the AP. But they argued that the attack was reckless rather than premeditated, according to the AP.

“It’s not about hate. It’s about old-school culture, old-school thinking,” attorney Monique Walker told jurors, according to the AP.

Blackwell’s defense argued he was motivated by a sense of disrespect for the victims’ behavior in the home – a claim the prosecution dismissed, according to the AP.

It was not immediately clear if Blackwell intends to appeal any of his convictions and Walker did not immediately respond to PEOPLE’s request for comment.

After the verdict, Tolbert told reporters he felt “justice was served,” according to the AP. Tolbert had earlier spoken out about the attack on local TV, breaking down as he described it.

“I’m ecstatic,” Tolbert said Wednesday, according to the AP.

Tolbert’s mother, Kim Foster, had strong words for Blackwell when she spoke to WSB-TV in March, saying, “He’s not human. He got hatred in his heart and God’s gonna deal with him.”