On the Thursday, April 20 edition of Georgia Today: Slain 'Cop City' activist Manuel Terán's autopsy results; GBI's new gang task force HQ in Macon; Georgia State's new music industry program.

GA Today Podcast

Peter Biello: Welcome to the Georgia Today podcast from GPB News. Today is Thursday, April 20. I'm Peter Biello. On today's episode, the autopsy of the protester shot and killed by police in the South River Forest in Atlanta has been released. The GBI is getting a new regional headquarters for its gang task force. And students at Georgia State are getting real-world experience in the music industry, thanks to a new grant. These stories and more are coming up on this edition of Georgia Today.



Story 1

Peter Biello: The DeKalb County medical examiner has released the results of the official autopsy for Manuel Paez Teran, the activist killed during a law enforcement raid in January in the South Atlanta forest. The official DeKalb autopsy report revealed Paez Teran suffered at least 57 gunshot wounds. An independent autopsy commissioned by the family only recorded 14. The DeKalb autopsy did not show any gunpowder residue on their hands or clothes. Wingo Smith is an attorney for Paez Teran's family.

Wingo Smith: The new information, like I said, really drives home this the damage and the utter brutality of Manuel's death. And that's hard to take for anyone. And as you may know, it would have been Manuel's 27th birthday this weekend.

Peter Biello: Their family continues to question the FBI's investigation into their death, given the agency's role in planning the raid in which they were killed.


Drag performer Mrs. Ivana
Credit: Courtesy of Mrs. Ivana

Story 2

Peter Biello: Organizers of a Forsyth County drag show scheduled for this weekend have canceled their event after getting threatening messages and the attention of a Georgia congressman. U.S. Rep. Rich McCormick organized a counter event at the same time calling the scheduled performance at a county park "lewd." The organizer who performs as Mrs. Ivana and declined to give any other name, said the show was to be a family-friendly event and that not all drag is lewd.

Mrs. Ivana: It's like Disney on Ice, almost. Like we do those very, you know, the singalong songs. We really try and, you know, get very theatrical with our performances. And at the last family show, we had a performer that did an entire Beauty and the Beast and a Belle performance and had puppets. And if you Google "drag queen," you can see that it's just a man dressed as a woman in costumes and makeup. That's all it says. It doesn't say anything, you know, about, you know, they're a provocative dancer or, you know, anything like that. It's just it's a feminine persona, basically.

Peter Biello: Mrs. Ivana said the show was canceled out of concern for the safety of performers, audience members and expected protesters. Criticism and support of the event comes as lawmakers in several states pass laws aimed at keeping children out of drag shows.



Story 3

Peter Biello: The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers may be able to move forward with the plan to allow fish to pass a dam on the Savannah River near Augusta, even if it would lower the water level on Augusta's waterfront. That's according to a federal appeals court ruling yesterday. Savannah Riverkeeper at Tonya Bonitatibus says the judges ruled the agency isn't required to maintain a specific water level, only enough for water supply and recreation.

Tonya Bonitatibus: Their current plan removes about a third of this historic park and turns it into a lowered floodplain bench. Now, in theory, people could stand down there and still fish, which would be great. But ensuring that the historical uses of this park are maintained is super important. And so if the Corps' proposal was to move forward, making sure that public access is in the forefront is going to be very important.

Peter Biello: The case concerns waterfront property owners who say lower levels could make their homes worth less.


Story 4

Peter Biello: The Georgia Bureau of Investigation soon will have a new regional headquarters for its statewide gang task force. GPB's Grant Blankenship has more from Macon.

Grant Blankenship: Through a collaboration with the government of Macon-Bibb County, the Middle Georgia section of the GBI Gang Task Force will move into a downtown government building some call "the Castle." It's the former transportation management office. GBI director Michael Register, a Macon native, says he's thankful the task force has found a regional home.

Michael Register: We are committed to making sure that this city, this area, Middle Georgia, is safer for the efforts that have been put forward to get us here.

Grant Blankenship: Violence continues to be a major concern in Macon, which so far this year has averaged about one homicide a week. For GPB News, I'm Grant Blankenship in Macon.



Story 5

Peter Biello: A federal decision on mifepristone. Access is on hold after the U.S. Supreme Court extended an administrative stay yesterday afternoon in the case between an anti-abortion coalition and the Food and Drug Administration. GPB's Sofi Gratas has more.

Sofi Gratas: It's been just over a week since a federal judge in Texas ruled to revoke the FDA's decadeslong approval of mifepristone, one of two drugs primarily used for medication abortions up to 10 weeks of pregnancy. But the court battle isn't over yet. Without explanation, the U.S. Supreme Court announced an extension on Wednesday afternoon to an administrative stay on the lower court's decision to restrict access to the drug. Now, Supreme Court justices have until about midnight Friday to file a ruling. Mifepristone remains available for now. If they have to, some abortion providers in Georgia have indicated they plan to continue offering medication abortions using just one drug, misoprostol. Meanwhile, a case over the legality of Georgia's own abortion ban remains tied up in the state Supreme Court. For GPB News, I'm Sofi Gratas.


A pill with a 512 imprint.

Story 6

Peter Biello: The Georgia Supreme Court heard oral arguments this week from a rural South Georgia hospital authority challenging a 2022 state law barring local officials from suing opioid manufacturers and distributors. The Hospital Authority of Wayne County filed its federal lawsuit seeking damages in the spring of 2019 for the strain put on Wayne Memorial Hospital in Jesup. Wayne County had an opioid-involved overdose rate of 23 per 100,000, which was higher than the state average of 16.8 in 2021. It also had a higher than average number of emergency room visits for opioid overdoses that year. But the state had filed its own lawsuit against opioid manufacturers and distributors a few months before the Wayne County Hospital, authorities claim, while also participating in multi-state settlement negotiations that ultimately led to a $26 billion deal. The 2022 law blocking local governments from filing their own lawsuits was passed as part of the terms of those negotiations as a way to resolve the lawsuits filed by thousands of governmental plaintiffs nationally. In Georgia, all but two litigating governmental entities, the Wayne County Hospital Authority and the Bibb County School District, opted to participate.




Story 7

Peter Biello: Students at Georgia State University are ready to make waves in the music industry, thanks to a new grant-funded program at the School of Music. The program is actually a record label called MTM Standard, aimed at teaching students about all aspects of the music industry from studio to stage. And as GPB's Amanda Andrews reports, the goal of the program is to measure success not in grades but in Grammys.

Amanda Andrews: Thursday afternoons in downtown Atlanta, the usual noise of cars and crowds are now broken up by live music. MTM Standard showcases their artists with weekly outdoor concerts. Noah Holland is a senior at GSU. He says being on the stage is surreal.

Noah Holland: It's kind of like a dream come true because I remember when I first came to Atlanta four years ago and I was just kind of a starry-eyed kid from the Midwest. Like with the whole, like, rock star dream. And now I perform downtown Atlanta, right in the center by Five Points on Peachtree and Auburn Ave., which is like super historical.

Amanda Andrews: Big dreams are something all the MTM artists have in common.

Noah Holland: I would say my goal creatively is to make classic music and timeless music.

Student 1: Future for myself. I want to continue to put on events that's kind of like been my new niche. I've been really inspired lately.

Noah Freeman I want to be an influence on like, you know, little girls and they can look up to and stuff like that.

Student 3: I want to be the person who creates the music industry in my country, Ecuador. 

Amanda Andrews: the MTM label name is an acronym taken from the university's abbreviation for music classes. It also stands for Make the Music, Manage the music and move the music —All services the label offers. GSU sophomore Noa Freeman just goes by Noah on stage. Growing up, she learned a lot from her parents who worked in Atlanta's music industry. But she says the label still offers her a lot as an artist.

Noah Freeman They're able to send songs to like managers and like CEOs to where, like they can put it on, like movies and TV shows and stuff like that. So they'll help with that because I have no access to that.

Amanda Andrews: School of Music professors Al Thrash and Ben Yonas guide students through the ins and outs of the music industry, Yonas says MTM Standard goes beyond textbooks.

Ben Yonas: Do you have students who, like I said earlier, have been studying production, maybe haven't been part of the roll out of a release or, you know, overseeing a campaign or the build of all the content marketing that one needs to be successful in music.

Amanda Andrews: And now students like Owen Reece are doing the work.

Owen Reece: I've done more hands-on things in the past, four or five, six months than I've done in my entire life.

Amanda Andrews: But Reece says it doesn't feel like work. It's a passion, and he's glad he's getting a foundation in it now.

Owen Reece: It's definitely a learning process, but I think it's one that, like I said earlier, like if we didn't do it now, it would have been much later and we would have been worse off. So I'm glad we're doing it now. And yeah, I think I think it's a good — today is like a good stepping stone to what's eventually going to be larger events and productions.

Amanda Andrews: And that's the goal. Professor Al Thrash says this label's work was never just a school assignment.

Al Thrash: We are literally, you know, we're here to compete. You know, we want playlisting. We you know, we want to get the Grammy-nominated for some of these releases because our our artist, our student artists are making some incredible music and and we want to share it with the world the way that Sony or Columbia or any other major label would do so.

Amanda Andrews: This fall, more students will get out of books and into the music industry with a new course. Professors Jonas and Thrash will co-teach record label operations one and two as a capstone for students in the music production and music business programs. For GPB News, I'm Amanda Andrews in Atlanta. 



Story 8

Peter Biello: Georgia State Park officials have chosen six locations for the rollout of electric vehicle charging stations at state parks and historic sites. The Department of Natural Resources and Gov. Brian Kemp announced the stations today. Electric vehicle charging will be available at Tallulah Gorge, Fort Yargo, Cloudland Canyon, High Falls and Skidaway Island State Parks, as well as Wormsloe State Historic Site.



Story 9

Peter Biello: And tubing and rafting company Shoot the Hooch has lost its permit to operate in the Chattahoochee River National Recreation Area. The area's superintendent says only a single business can provide watercraft rentals on the river's Powers Island. Nantahala Outdoor Center has operated a canoe, kayak and paddleboard rental there for eight years. A lawyer for Shoot the Hooch says concession contracts don't give exclusive rights to the area. The company has been on the river for 22 years.

And that's it for this edition of Georgia Today. Thank you so much for tuning in. If you want to learn more about these stories, visit GPB.org/News. And if you want to support all the work that GPB does, you can head on over to GPB.org and click donate. Your support does help this podcast as well as everything you hear on the radio and everything you see at GPB.org. If you've got feedback, we'd love to hear it. Email us at GeorgiaToday@GPB.org. And don't forget to subscribe to this podcast as well. I'm Peter Biello. Thanks again for listening. We'll see you tomorrow.


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