Georgia Today: Gender identity bill defeated; rioting could lead to felonies; Macon's time capsules
LISTEN: On the Thursday March 2 edition of Georgia Today: a look at the surprise defeat of a bill about gender identity; how rioting in Georgia could soon result in felony charges; and Macon's glimpse of its past through the opening of a time capsule.
Peter Biello: Welcome to the Georgia Today podcast from GPB News. Today is Thursday, March 2. I'm Peter Biello. On today's episode, a look at the surprise defeat of a bill aimed at stopping schools from talking about gender identity. Rioting in Georgia could soon result in felony charges — we'll explain. And Macon gets a glimpse of its past through the opening of a time capsule. These stories and more are coming up on this edition of Georgia Today.
Peter Biello: An unexpected coalition of conservative groups and LGBTQ advocates has defeated a bill aimed at stopping teachers from talking to students about gender identity. The Republican-led state Senate Education and Youth Committee voted down the bill yesterday after hearing from advocates who said it was unfair to transgender children and from conservatives who objected to regulating private schools and camps. Mike Griffin, a lobbyist for the Georgia Southern Baptists, said he also had concerns about defining gender in state law.
Mike Griffin: We believe that this has, this bill has dramatic, unintended consequences for parental rights and for children in public schools as well. And those concerns have not all been addressed. And so as it stands, we're concerned with this bill, though we certainly share the motivation of the sponsors.
Peter Biello: Applause broke out in the room as the near-unanimous vote left LGBTQ advocates stunned at their good fortune.
Peter Biello: The Georgia House passed two bills yesterday that target violent protesters. HB 505 would increase the charge for rioting from a misdemeanor to a felony. It passed 98 to 73 after debate. Republican Rep. Mike Cheokas of Americus is a sponsor of the bill.
Mike Cheokas: Our governor and our attorney general have made it clear that Georgia will provide no safe haven to rioters. This legislation puts that vision into state law and sends a signal to troublemakers throughout the country that they won't get a slap on the wrist if they come here and engage in rioting.
Peter Biello: Some Democrats raised concerns about the impact the bill could have on peaceful protesters. The House also passed HB 500. It would make setting ablaze a law enforcement vehicle punishable with 5 to 20 years in prison or a fine of up to $100,000.
Peter Biello: A Paulding County sheriff's deputy accused of using excessive force on a Dallas, Ga., man last year has been fired. Attorneys for 30-year-old Tyler Canaris say their client was slammed to the ground about a year ago by Deputy Michael McMaster, who said Canaris fit the description of someone allegedly breaking into cars. A video of the incident appeared online last month, sparking public outcry. McMaster was then placed on desk duty. The Paulding County Sheriff's Office says McMaster was fired for, quote, "policy violations from other incidents" unrelated to Canaris. The spokesperson says the investigation into those policy violations began after the video surfaced. News of McMaster's firing comes as criminal charges against Canaris are pending. Canaris is accused of obstructing a law enforcement officer, but his attorneys are asking for those charges to be dropped.
Peter Biello: Two sheriff's deputies in Augusta-Richmond County, have been fired and arrested after being caught on video punching and dragging a detainee at the county jail. Sheriff Richard Roundtree said yesterday that over the past year, six deputies have been arrested for excessive use of force and it won't be tolerated.
Sheriff Richard Roundtree: And while we take no pride in locking up one of our own, we will not hesitate to do so if the situation warrants it.
Peter Biello: Deputies Gerardo Sanchez Jr and Joshua Jackson have been charged with battery and violating their oath of office for assaulting inmate Alvin Yarbary Jr. on Feb. 23. Roundtree says he's directed his senior staff to identify gaps in training or culture that might have contributed to this incident and the others before it.
Peter Biello: A new study warns the number of people at risk of developing encephalitis from an infection is growing and that can lead to mental health problems. GPB's Ellen Eldridge has more.
Ellen Eldridge: The study finds encephalitis can lead to suicidal thoughts and behaviors. This is observed often in people with symptoms of psychotic depression. Michelle Bravo Cano, who did not participate in the study but had encephalitis, says inflammation in her brain drove her to self-destructive behavior and thoughts of suicide.
Michelle Bravo Cano: I was starting to, like, depend on alcohol to even try to sleep or, like, stop the headaches or something. On one occasion, I almost threw myself off the third floor, like, room where I was.
Ellen Eldridge: The study says suicidal behavior abated completely in all study participants after receiving immunotherapy. For GPB News, I'm Ellen Eldridge.
Peter Biello: Delta pilots have agreed to a new contract with hefty pay raises. The Airline Pilots Association said yesterday that 78% of the Atlanta-based airline's 15,000 pilots voted to support the deal. It calls for pay raises of 30% over four years. The vote comes amid a pilot shortage, especially at smaller airlines — and after Delta pilots voted to authorize a strike six months ago.
Peter Biello: Several notable Georgians planned to be in Selma, Ala., this weekend for the 50th anniversary of Bloody Sunday and a march across the Edmund Pettus Bridge. GPB's Amanda Andrews reports the event has strong ties to Georgia.
Amanda Andrews: Civil rights leaders, including late Georgia Congressman John Lewis, led the first march over the bridge in 1965 to protest the killing of a civil rights activist who died at the hands of the Alabama police. This year. Georgians attending include Congresswoman Nikema Williams and Sen. Raphael Warnock. Southern Christian Leadership Conference president Dr. Charles Steele Jr. says it's important to preserve history, to educate future generations.
Dr. Charles Steele: And the young people have not been taught, because in public schools and other schools, private schools as well — even in some churches — they don't talk about what took place and how we got here.
Amanda Andrews: The first march ended after marchers were assaulted by police. National outrage over the incident led to the passage of the Voting Rights Act just three months later. For GPB News, I'm Amanda Andrews.
Peter Biello: A pair of time capsules containing over a century of history were opened in Macon this week. The capsules, one from 1916 and another from 1973, were left with instructions to the management of what is now Macon's largest hospital to open them both on Feb. 28, 2023. Amanda McDaniel is an employee of the hospital today called the Atrium Health Navigant Medical Center. She was surprised to learn her mother, a former hospital photographer, had snuck in two of her baby pictures back in 1973.
Amanda McDaniel: I grew up, you know, roaming those halls. I've seen it change quite a bit over the years, and it's grown quite a bit, too. But it was all fun. It's a great place to work. Yeah, it's a lot of family.
Peter Biello: McDaniel's photos were saved alongside newspaper clippings from what locals call the Great Snow of '73 when 16 inches fell on Macon. Atrium Health is putting together a new time capsule to inter this year.
Peter Biello: And after a lengthy search and voting period last week, the Atlanta Braves named their new stadium P.A. announcer, Kevin Kraus. One of the finalists in that contest and a fan favorite, has just been named as the new public address announcer for the Rome Braves. Larry Gardner, the longtime play-by-play voice of the Adairsville Tigers, will be the new P.A. announcer at Adventhealth Stadium in Rome.
Peter Biello: And that's a wrap on today's edition of Georgia Today. Thank you so much for listening. Subscribe to this podcast now. We'll be back with you tomorrow with the latest Georgia news. And if you've got feedback, please do let us know. You can email us at GeorgiaToday@GPB.org. And if you like what you hear, leave a review; that helps other people find us. I'm Peter Biello. Thanks again for listening. We'll see you tomorrow.