Justice Reform in Athens, GA
Before the dawn of the civil war, 50% of our local population was enslaved. After emancipation, many of those families stayed. Unfortunately, we were not kind to our newly-freed neighbors. African-Americans have been forced to endure Jim Crow, redlining, urban renewal, inadequate access to capital, the destruction of local African-American neighborhoods, segregation, discriminatory hiring practices, violence, and barriers to public accommodations that continue to this day.
Meanwhile, our white citizenry have enjoyed the privileges of the New Deal, investments in white neighborhoods and adjoining amenities, and a social system that was designed to promote their prosperity. That privilege has to be extended to African-Americans, immigrants, all people of color, the LGBTQ community, and refugees.
Let us put this simply: Athens is designed to prevent the creation of a African-American middle class. That is our history. That is our present. There will be no better future without acknowledging that past and passing intentional, restorative policies to reverse that trend.
To this end, we are committed to seeking the deprioritization of marijuana offenses. The war on drugs in the U.S. has destroyed countless lives and a major driver in that cycle is the fact that, when arrested for a non-violent, drug-related crimes like possession, offenders are set down a path that can be viciously difficult to recover from. Marijuana arrests are costly, harmful, and skewed by race. Decriminalization and reduced sentencing for past offenders is critical for restoring justice. Furthermore, we should also offer restorative justice to those affected by the drug war, including steps such as expungement, sentence reduction or termination, and re-entry investments.
Justice reform also must include clear protections for immigrants, regardless of immigration status. Documentation is a civil matter, not a criminal one, and we should not be infringing on the rights of our immigrant neighbors. As part of building an affirmative community for immigrants, our campaign firmly stands against voluntary cooperation with ICE. Deportations destroy families and create an unacceptable atmosphere of fear. The immigrant population of Athens and District 9 deserves to be treated with dignity and hospitality.
One last important issue: as an activist, Tommy fought for a permanent, municipal Civil Rights Committee, and as Commissioner, will not rest until we have one. We must pass protections on race, age, gender, LGBTQ, and immigrant status to ensure opportunity and justice for all.