Athens-Clarke County Police are bracing for more weekend demonstrations, with a Saturday protest planned by the Athens Anti-Discrimination Movement. It’s set to start at 2 o’clock tomorrow in front of City Hall. A rally last weekend drew more than two thousand people to downtown Athens and resulted in 19 arrests. Athens-Clarke County Police are, for the first time, acknowledging that projectiles were fired at some of the demonstrators who took part in last weekend’s protests in downtown Athens: police used teargas to disperse the remnants of a crowd early Monday morning and now say they also fired bean-bags at three of the demonstrators who threw the tear gas canisters back at police. There were no injuries reported. From the Athens-Clarke County Police Dept… The purpose of this addendum is to update and correct information provided on June 1, 2020 concerning the Athens-Clarke County Police Department response to the events of May 31, 2020. The initial information relayed to executive command after the event indicated that tear gas was the only munition deployed during the operation. As a result, the initial media release indicated that only tear gas was used. However, during after-action reviews of the event, the Special Response Team Commander clarified that “bean bag” and “sponge” rounds were also used during the event. Specifically, “bean bag” or “sponge” rounds were used as a defensive measure against three individuals who appeared to be actively throwing gas canisters back at officers. None of these three individuals remained at the scene or were arrested during the event. **End of Addendum** May 31 Protest Operation and Police Action After learning of planned peaceful protests scheduled for May 31 in the Athens Downtown area, the Athens-Clarke County Police Department (ACCPD) developed an operational plan. ACCPD’s overarching goal was to provide a safe environment for citizens and participants to exercise rights guaranteed under the 1st Amendment to peacefully protest, while at the same time, protecting life and property, and preventing and responding to criminal activity. The operational plan was designed to ensure the safety of participants and residents, manage pedestrian and vehicle traffic, protect life and property and deter criminal activity. Primary focus was placed on protecting protest participants’ constitutional rights and ensuring those rights were not diminished unless criminal activity or other justifiable public safety hazards existed. The Athens-Clarke County Police Department executed this operational plan beginning at about 2:00 pm on the evening of May 31. Between 5:00 pm and approximately 7:30 pm, groups of people assembled, marched between various Downtown locations, and peacefully protested. However, during this time period, officers noticed that the protestors were being infiltrated by a number of individuals who possessed weapons and other instruments commonly used by extremist during violent protests. This suggested that these individuals intended to turn the previously peaceful protest violent. Upon the armed group’s arrival, many of the original protestors began to leave and a group of roughly 200 protestors, many of whom appeared to belong to a violent extremist group, remained. Based on officer observations, ACCPD believed that a shift from peaceful protest to violent protest was imminent. ACCPD requested an Emergency Declaration and curfew for the Downtown area. The Athens-Clarke County Assistant Manager approved and signed the Emergency Declaration which included a curfew for the Athens Downtown area between 9:00 pm on May 31 and 5:00 am on June 1. In accordance with the Emergency Declaration and curfew, ACCPD officers began clearing all people from the Downtown area shortly after 9:00 pm. By approximately 11:30 pm, all people had voluntarily left the Downtown area with the exception of a group of 200 people who had assembled and blocked the roadway at the intersection of College and Broad Street. Shortly before midnight, officers used bullhorns to notify the group that they were unlawfully assembled in violation of the Emergency Declaration and to disburse or face arrest. This order was repeated numerous times. In response to these orders, some of the group members left as directed. However, a group of them remained and locked arms in the middle of the street in a defensive posture, refusing to leave. Shortly after midnight, ACCPD officers deployed gas into the crowd. This resulted in many more of the group members leaving. However, 19 remained and were taken into custody without additional force and without further incident. Thirteen of those arrested maintained residences in the AthensClarke County area and six gave residences that were outside the Athens-Clarke County regional area.
The University of Georgia adds another year to the contract of UGA Athletic Director Greg McGarity: it’s a contract that was to have expired at the end of the month. McGarity is entering his 11th year as AD in Athens. The news about McGarity came out of a Thursday meeting of the UGA Athletic Board, which also gave final approval to a $149 million athletic budget.From Tim Hix, UGA Sports Communications… A one-year contract extension for J. Reid Parker Director of Athletics Greg McGarity and the approval of a fiscal year 2021 budget of $149.4 million were the highlights of the University of Georgia Athletic Association Board of Directors spring meeting today. Contrary to previous meetings, Thursday’s gathering was held as an online video conference because of social restrictions related to the COVID-19 pandemic. After a brief discussion in executive session, the Board voted unanimously for the one-year contract extension for McGarity. A similar one-year extension was approved in February of 2019. ‘’I’m just very happy that Greg has agreed to stay on this year,’’ said UGA President Jere W. Morehead. ‘’I think particularly now, with all that we’re going through — in this country and in intercollegiate athletics — with all the challenges that we’ve faced, Greg’s experience and having that continuity is really good for UGA at this time. So I appreciate his willingness to serve.’’ For McGarity, who has served in his position since August of 2010, the athletic directorship has always been much more than a job, particularly now in today’s times of massive change. ‘’I’ve always looked at this job as serving my alma mater,’’ he said. ‘’I also felt like consistency is really important right now, and I’m respectful of the President’s time. My gosh, with everything he has to deal with on the campus as a whole, I certainly didn’t want our situation to be a part of that concern at this time. Both my parents went to the University of Georgia. They both worked at the University of Georgia. My wife and son graduated. I have a lot of respect for this institution and what it’s meant to our family. So it’s a big deal for me personally to serve in this role and to help us navigate these difficult times.’’ The approved budget figure of 149.4 million represents a decrease of just over $4 million from the current fiscal year, which concludes at the end of June. When presenting the budget, McGarity noted that a number of contingency plans had been prepared by the Association’s financial officers. Many issues that will affect revenue totals remain undecided, most notably the number of spectators that will be allowed to attend the Bulldogs’ football games. ‘’As we learn more in the coming weeks, we could need to make adjustments to this budget,’’ he said. ‘’A lot depends on where football is and how it’s affected, with the definition of ‘mass gatherings’ and what we’re able to do. As we learn more, we’ll be able to make some announcements and project revenue a little bit more. We’re fortunate here, but your reserves can’t sustain you forever. It certainly helps us in the short term, being as whole as possible but also realistic as possible with conditions that are on campus and among our peer groups.’’ As part of McGarity's report, Senior Deputy Athletic Director Josh Brooks gave an update on the progress of the Butts-Mehre expansion project. The Butts Mehre building has served as the administrative center for the Athletic Association, as well as the operational hub for the football program, since 1987. The latest expansion, at an estimated cost of $80 million, began in January and will add a greatly expanded weight room, locker room, meeting rooms, coaches' offices and sports medicine facility, as well as a number of other improvements for the football program. Construction for the first phase is expected to be completed by April of 2021. The expansion project, according to Brooks, remains on schedule — despite a rainy winter and spring, as well as the COVID-19 pandemic — and within budget. Also included on the agenda was a glowing academic report from Faculty Athletics Representative, Prof. David Shipley. Highlights of Shipley's report included: • Despite the mid-semester move to all-online instruction, Georgia’s student-athletes turned in a 3.34 overall grade point average for Spring semester. That number is believed to be an all-time best, as is the 3.13 GPA recorded for the entire 2019-20 academic year. • All 11 women’s teams posted a grade point average of 3.3 or above this spring, led by a 3.68 from the largest squad of them all, the Equestrian team at 68 members. The tennis team led all male squads with a 3.60 GPA. Football had its best semester ever at 3.03. • The cross country teams turned in the top two GPAs for the entire year, with the women’s squad at 3.58 and the men at 3.45. • Georgia’s baseball, women’s golf and volleyball teams were cited by the NCAA for their outstanding Academic Progress Rates. All three had marks that ranked in the top 10 percent nationally in their respective sports. • Placekicker Rodrigo Blankenship became the first UGA football player since current Athletics Board member Jon Stinchcomb in 2002 to earn an NCAA Postgraduate Scholarship. Other items covered on the Board's agenda included the following: • A report by Shipley from the Student Wellness Committee. • Reports from outgoing student representatives Will Harper, Walker Higgins, Sabrina Vega. The latter two, both student-athletes, expressed their thanks to the UGAAA support personnel who aided in the transition to online learning in April. • Announcement of new student-athlete representatives for 2021: football player Kearis Jackson, a redshirt sophomore from Fort Valley, and soccer player Caroline Chipman, a senior from Atlanta. The board was also presented with three candidates to fill the remaining student representative post.
The University of Georgia says, the coronavirus campus closure notwithstanding, the University has seen record enrollment for its summer semester classes, with students taking their classes on-line: UGA is aiming to have its students back on campus when fall semester starts in August. There are also ongoing plans to have University employees begin their moves back to campus on June 15. From UGA president Jere Morehead… Last week we informed you that the University of Georgia would begin Phase I of our gradual reopening plan on Monday, June 15. Today we are providing you with the 'Return to Campus Guidelines for Faculty and Staff.' We encourage you to review this document carefully to ensure that you are aware of the many safety precautions being taken by the University, are knowledgeable of the resources available, and understand your own responsibility to abide by the guidelines to contain the spread of the COVID-19 coronavirus. We want to call your attention to the fact that the University has purchased and will issue two (2) reusable and washable cloth face coverings for each student, staff, and faculty member. These cloth face coverings will be distributed by USPS mail or campus mail (when applicable) to each individual and will include wearing and washing instructions. Distribution may also be provided by supervisors. Please update your home address information in OneUSG Connect to ensure the face coverings are mailed to an accurate address. Choose 'OneUSG Connect' from the link on the right side of the page. After you log in, choose 'Personal Details.' Click on 'Address' and make any necessary changes. Remember that the primary task of those returning in Phase 1 will be to prepare our campuses for the continued safe return of even more members of the University community in Phase 2, ultimately culminating in the full Phase 3 return of faculty, staff, and students in August for the Fall Semester. Adherence to these guidelines will be essential to our successful reopening. Each and every one of us will have a critical role to play as we work together to protect the health and safety of every member of the Bulldog Nation. Thank you for your continued understanding, support, and flexibility.