Your morning jolt: Lawmaker wanted leniency for Brandon White attackers

Two young men were sentenced to five years in prison and five years on probation last week for the YouTube-recorded beating of Brandon White, a gay man, as he exited a convenience store in the southwest Atlanta community of Pittsburgh.

But reverberations will continue through the July 31 Democratic primary.

On Friday, after Fulton County Superior Court Judge Jackson Bedford handed down his sentence, Project Q Atlanta published a letter written by several gay rights activists, asking that the assailants be subjected to no further incarceration. The most prominent signature belonged to state Rep. Simone Bell, who is locked in a District 58 Democratic primary race with fellow incumbent Ralph Long.

From the letter:

”Our primary interest is seeing an end to the homophobia that seems to have been a dominant factor in the attack on Mr. White. We do not believe that this will be accomplished by a long sentence of imprisonment….

We believe that the time each of these young men has already spent behind bars has been a significant loss of freedom. We ask that any additional term of imprisonment you impose be probated…”

The letter asks that the two young men up for sentencing last week be allowed to complete high school or earn a G.E.D., so that they might “move their lives in a positive direction that can ultimately serve their community.”

Long, who also testified at last week’s sentencing hearing, posted the following on his Facebook page:

I was proud to give a statement in court this morning asking that Brandon White’s attackers be sentenced to five years plus probation. Leaders know better than to ever forget that these are real people we’re serving out here, not just symbols for a movement. Shame on those who minimize Brandon White and Pittsburgh’s pain.

But Matt Hennie of Project Q, the reporter who attended the hearing, says that the number “five” never left Long’s lips during his testimony. From his article:

“They’ve disrespected themselves, they have disrespected the individual, they have disrespected the State of Georgia,” Long said from the witness stand. “With that being said as a representative, I see all kinds of stuff. I would like them to do some time, but at the same time 10 years is a very long time.”

“I would like to see the court be lenient in regards to that length of time, but I do want them to know the inside of that cell,” he added.

Abt pushed Long to specify the length of the prison term the state lawmaker would like to see in the case. He demurred.

“I really don’t feel comfortable answering that question specifically because I am not the judge. But I would leave it as specific as this court showing leniency so perhaps these young men can change their lives. I would like to see them tethered for 10 years with some probation or some giveback to the community. I like that 10-year number,” Long said.

Bell is the only out African-American lesbian in the state Legislature, and has been endorsed by Georgia Equality. Long has complained that the gay rights organization didn’t even grant him an interview.

***
An administrative law judge has upheld the candidacy of businessman Bill Carruth of Paulding County, who has mounted a Republican primary challenge to state Sen. Bill Heath of Bremen. Heath and his supporters had challenged Carruth’s residency – he had moved back into the district after being drawn out – and his claim that he owed no federal or state taxes.

The latter charge arose from a $2.3 million line of credit Carruth and his wife had drawn from a now defunct bank. The Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation has taken legal action to see that the money is paid back. Carruth’s opponents had claimed that this amounted to money owed taxpayers. See the ruling here. Wrote Judge Ronit Walker:

“[T]he FDIC is not an integral part of the governmental mechanism but is rather a separate legal entity serving essentially a proprietary … function. ” Accordingly, a debt to the FDIC in the instant case does not involve public funds, and therefore there is no bar Respondent’s candidacy.

Here’s a statement from Carruth:

“I said from the beginning that this challenge has no basis in fact and will be thrown out. Today, I am vindicated by Judge Walker’s decision. This was a frivolous complaint from the beginning that wasted time and taxpayer money so that Senator Heath might score some cheap political points. Senator Heath ought to be ashamed of himself.

It is no wonder that Georgia leads the nation in bank failures when the chairman of the Senate Finance Committee does not know the difference between public funds and private funds. The people of Haralson, Polk, and Paulding counties deserve better.”

***
On Saturday, the re-election campaign of President Barack Obama put out a TV ad that featured Republican rival Mitt Romney singing “America the Beautiful.” Badly.

This morning, the Romney campaign declared turnabout fair play:

***
Several of you have pointed to a Forbes article that details the 35 questions that GOP presidential hopeful Mitt Romney must answer to make the Bain Capital attacks go away.

***
Over at the Daily Beast, a look at Mitt Romney’s failure – so far – to offer former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin a speaking role at the Republican National Convention in Tampa includes this from a certain national tea party leader who lives in Cherokee County:

“Romney’s just not a fighter,” says Jenny Beth Martin, head of the Tea Party Patriots, the largest of the activist groups. “That’s why it would be good for him to have someone like Palin speaking at the convention. He needs to do something to rile up his base, to make them enthusiastic. And I don’t mean just the Tea Party. I mean die-hard Republicans. I live in the second-most-Republican county in the state of Georgia, and the folks around here are not enthusiastic about him.”

Meanwhile, former GOP presidential hopeful Herman Cain, another metro Atlanta resident, will be part of an Aug. 26 tea party rally in Tampa, on the day before the GOP convention begins.

***
One of the more disturbing three paragraphs that you’ll read today, from the New York Times:

The push and pull over what is on the record is one of journalism’s perennial battles. But those negotiations typically took place case by case, free from the red pens of press minders. Now, with a millisecond Twitter news cycle and an unforgiving, gaffe-obsessed media culture, politicians and their advisers are routinely demanding that reporters allow them final editing power over any published quotations.

Quote approval is standard practice for the Obama campaign, used by many top strategists and almost all midlevel aides in Chicago and at the White House — almost anyone other than spokesmen who are paid to be quoted. (And sometimes it applies even to them.) It is also commonplace throughout Washington and on the campaign trail.

The Romney campaign insists that journalists interviewing any of Mitt Romney’s five sons agree to use only quotations that are approved by the press office. And Romney advisers almost always require that reporters ask them for the green light on anything from a conversation that they would like to include in an article.

***
The AJC’s Politifact Georgia today takes a look at a statement by Brian Robinson, spokesman for Gov. Nathan Deal, on the potential impact of the federal health care overhaul on the state’s budget.

- By Jim Galloway, Political Insider

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51 comments Add your comment

Danny O

July 16th, 2012
9:56 am

Ralph Long’s record of self-serving opportunism makes me question the sincerity of his words.

ByteMe

July 16th, 2012
9:58 am

“Romney’s just not a fighter,” says Jenny Beth Martin, head of the Tea Party Patriots, the largest of the activist groups. “That’s why it would be good for him to have someone like Palin speaking at the convention

Anyone offer Rush Limbaugh a speaking role?

John K

July 16th, 2012
10:04 am

I really do hope the GOP invites Palin. That worked so well for them last time.

Roekest

July 16th, 2012
10:09 am

If Brandon White were beaten by a group of white thugs, those same Reps would be calling for a lifetime of imprisonment. But no. Because the thugs were from the hood, “leaders” beg for leniency.

Aquagirl

July 16th, 2012
10:15 am

I really do hope the GOP invites Palin.

I’d love to see Karen Handel step into the role of campaign killer. Given her experience with the Komen foundation she should be able to sink the GOP like it’s a Confederate submarine.

WOW

July 16th, 2012
10:22 am

So I guess that is the basis for Senator Heath’s ro-bo calls that the federal Marshall’s are out looking for Carruth?

Bob Loblaw

July 16th, 2012
10:25 am

Hilarious. You interview a TEA party “leader” (there are more tea parties than counties) to guage Republican support for Romney? Got an idea! How ’bout interviewing, wait…a REPUBLICAN?

Centrist

July 16th, 2012
10:26 am

@ Roekest – McCain was such a weak nominee, Palin probably was an asset to a doomed ticket. But Romney does not need to pander to the right wing and lose the middle again. He will do a lot better than McCain, and against an incumbent at that.

4xtra

July 16th, 2012
10:29 am

Lets be honest here,
The Brandon was not permanently injured and the word is that Brandon knew those guys and possibly had an affair with one or more of the “attackers”.
They were upset because they were about to be exposed on being on the “down low”.
(Being on the “down low” in Atlanta is so COMMON that it is a trend going out of style,)
5 yrs prison and 5yrs parole is WAY more than enough.
Lets put this to sleep and keep it moving.
The gay rights people shoved the case down our throats enough

Smokewagon

July 16th, 2012
10:29 am

Totally agree w/ Roekest. It is all about race in this town. Nothing else matters.

Ga Values .................. VOTE NO FOR WASTE, GRAFT & CORRUPTION

July 16th, 2012
10:30 am

I see the AJC has done a very one sided pro tspLOST bit in today’s paper, what gives they interviewed numerious pros & 1 anti.. Just as fair & balanced as FOX.

Centrist

July 16th, 2012
10:42 am

My comment @ 9:55 was censored. There is no rule pointing out bias, so here it is again:

Of course Galloway cherry picks an article in an attempt to give credence to the diversionary and bogus Bain Capital attacks on Romney. The AJC is grossly biased.

While most of what I ever read in the NYT is “disturbing” since they are a leader in newspaper left wing bias – those three paragraphs above don’t bother me at all. So many newspaper quotes are purposely edited, bungled, or taken out of context, such candidate ground rules make sense. I can see how it is disturbing to biased reporters and editors, though.

DMA82

July 16th, 2012
10:46 am

The Quote:
The letter asks that the two young men up for sentencing last week be allowed to complete high school or earn a G.E.D., so that they might “move their lives in a positive direction that can ultimately serve their community.”

Funny how that specifically mentions “their community” and not “the communuity” as a whole.

WOW

July 16th, 2012
10:46 am

@ 4XTRA

They beat a kid and put it on the internet. In my mind they got what they deserved whether or not it was a gay rights issue or not. Judges need to send a message that this is not okay.

Baron Dekalb

July 16th, 2012
11:03 am

DMA82: Funny how you apparently don’t see yourself as part of “their community.”

Centrist

July 16th, 2012
11:08 am

@ Ga Values – I didn’t bother to read what I knew would be a biased AJC article on TSPLOST, but doubt this made it: CNBC released the results of a new survey of cities that ranks Georgia third in the country in infrastructure and first in workforce. And this is what Debbie Dooley of the TEA party said this morning: “I am so disgusted with the Pro T-SPLOST bias of the Atlanta Journal Constitution. Their parent company, Cox Enterprises, donated $ 250,000 to the pro T-SPLOST side. I cancelled my subscription. WSB TV and WSB radio are un-biased but somehow that did not filter to the AJC.”

DebbieDoRight

July 16th, 2012
11:11 am

What I really don’t understand about the whole act of incarceration is when does the incarcerated person ever pay off his debt to society?

Once free, the person wears the scarlet letter for life. for some this is a necessity so that the public knows who they really are — think child molesters, but for others – do we really need to know who was a tax cheat for the rest of their lives?

If they serve their time, and probation, and continues NOT to get into anymore trouble; didn’t the whole incarceration thing work? Isn’t that the point?

Really Simone???

July 16th, 2012
11:14 am

Sell out much??? Holy crap lady, you’re concerned about the “freedom” of cowardly thugs who don’t give a rat’s rectum about a young man’s freedom to simply be who he is. The fact that you are a lesbian only verifies that you are a vote seeking hypocrite!!!

With so many children taking their own lives for being bullied, it’s simply disgusting that a politician would defend bullies instead of petitioning for a stiffer sentence. A lesbian trying to gain the homophobe vote – seeing that you’re black, I’m very curious to see what you’ll do to get a white supremacy vote.

What’s even worse about Simone Bell is that she tries to put a spin on her letter that she’s holding out for a “hate crime” conviction since according to her, “physical attacks on LGBTQ is not remedied through imprisonment”. Is she then endorsing open season on gays? What a sad pathetic piece of excrement this woman is.

Baron Dekalb

July 16th, 2012
11:23 am

Where can I find evidence of this “Pro T-SPLOST bias of the Atlanta Journal Constitution” that all the centrists and center-rightists keep whining about? I will admit that I don’t read the editorial page of the AJC, but all I’ve seen in Galloway’s column is frank, basic reporting on the ups and downs of the initiative as the vote draws closer. Please show me one instance where Galloway has promoted or endorsed the TSPLOST.

Wilbur

July 16th, 2012
11:31 am

We put people away for a long time who commit crimes against protected groups. Is it only those crimes that are special. What if this young man were beaten because he wore glasses, or liked chess or voted libertarian or some other offense against the power structure in his neighborhood? Is his sexual orientation the only reason that we should have extra concern? Have we really fallen so far as to only protect what we percieve as our own?

jconservative

July 16th, 2012
11:32 am

“Romney’s just not a fighter,”

This is just a silly statement. The man put a half billion dollars in the bank. Do not tell me he is not a fighter.

His problem is that he is not a skilled politician. On top of that he has hired unskilled political advisers. He needs to dump his entire senior staff. The election is now about Mitt Romney and not about Obama and his record as president. Obama wins an election about Romney.

pb

July 16th, 2012
11:50 am

Hey Mr. Centrist,

Good to hear from you… But I don’t really think having Republicans tie Romney to Sarah Palin is a very good idea. She might have helped a doomed ticket in 2008 a litle, but since then her prestige and importance has been lessened. She might be fighter, but the wrong kind… Combative, but sometimes seems like does not really know what she is talking about. Only appeals to a certain group, who think she is some sort of a hero, for some reason.

WOW

July 16th, 2012
11:56 am

@ jconservative:

You make an interesting point noting that an election about Romney is a win for Obama. This suggest, however, that the problem lies with the candidate and not his senior staff.

Think About It

July 16th, 2012
11:59 am

These men need to serve the time (they can get their GED while in prison). They did a terrible crime and should pay.

Billy

July 16th, 2012
12:05 pm

Think, you’re correct. There’s no justice anymore; that’s why crime runs rampant. It’s not economics, it’s not lack of opportunity, it’s laziness and hatefullness. What does the person being a homo have to do with anything? A person was assaulted; that’s all that’s important. Funny how homos always try to turn one issue into another. Relax and let justice rule for once…

Simone Bell is right

July 16th, 2012
12:06 pm

These kids committed a violent crime and deserve to be punished.
But Rep. Bell is correct in saying that they deserve a chance at remediation and need to be reintegrated into society sooner rather than later. The more time they spend in jail the more likely they will be to adapt the personalities and mindsets of career criminals.

These kids acted impulsively. In the grand scheme of things they pose a relatively tiny risk to the greater GLBT community compared to the backward-looking hate-filled scoundrels populating our state capitol.

She did the right thing, and she may have made a positiive difference in the lives of these young men.

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’m off to Urban Outfitters to get some skinny jorts and a tank top.

More to this issue than meets the eye

July 16th, 2012
12:09 pm

Simone Bell has worked for years and years on social justice issues. Anyone who would suggest that she is a “sell-out” either doesn’t know her at all, or is up to no good.

Simone’s opponent will never miss a chance to let a bad situation go to waste. There is more than meets the eye here.

Billy is simply wrong

July 16th, 2012
12:14 pm

Billy, if I lived in your world I might think the same thing. In the real world, there are sheriffs who will not enforce the law when gay people are attacked. In the real world, there people who think gay people are getting what they deserve when crimes are committed against them.

The whole reason that federal laws are needed in this regard is that if you are gay, you probably don’t want to simply rely on Roscoe P. Coletrane or Boss Hogg to enforce the law. Simply put, the won’t do it.

yellowdog

July 16th, 2012
12:17 pm

it continually amazes me that GOPers and tea partiers complain when anyone left of center expresses their opinion; or yell bias. there are so many right wing newspapers around the country happily engaged in epressing their editorials; fair and balanced is a sound bite. that the ajc expresses its opinion is the american way; why must we be slammed for not toing the line as it were? who do you think you are???????? i shudder at the thought of a republican prez and a republican congress; just like i shudder at the thought of a right wing christian world without any choices…….once again who do you think you are?

Motocross Survivor

July 16th, 2012
12:18 pm

Looks like race trumps her concerns for gays being beat up for their sexual orientation. Young white men doing exactly the same crime would most certainly bring a different response, ESPECIALLY if the victim were black AND gay. They wouldn’t see the streets again till they were in wheelchairs.

Jay

July 16th, 2012
12:20 pm

So, because they acted impulsively, they get a pass? These kids could have easily killed Brandon White or paralyzed him or given him brain damage, and then what? Because he is okay physically they should be let free? Three people kicking someone while they are down, the violent from behind first punch, slamming a tire on top of him, then posting the video and laughing about it. Not to mention, how is it impulsive when they are all positioned waiting for him to come out, one taking a video? I could care less if he was gay, he was jumped and his attackers deserve some jail time. You knew it was wrong and against the law and you did it anyway. You telling me time served will deter this from happening again? White, black, gay, straight. Doesn’t matter, it was assault by multiple people on one much smaller.

Simone Bell is right

July 16th, 2012
12:28 pm

Ok, Jay. You’re right. Put them in jail for 10 years and forget about them. They’re just young black men, anyway, right?

DebbieDoRight

July 16th, 2012
12:43 pm

SBisRight – that’s the problem with the south, they can’t separate color from the conversation. And I’m not just pointing the finger at you, there are a few posters on this blog who continually inject race a every opportunity. They did a crime — they should do the crime. Period. However, they should also be given a chance to redeeme themselves.

Our system of justice sometimes forgets about the “redemption factor”. We are more of a “throw away the key” type of society.

It’s time we thought beyond the race of the individual to the ACT of the individual. Let’s progress beyond the 19th century for once in our history.

Carol

July 16th, 2012
12:48 pm

Brian Robinson is a liar and bully.

DebbieDoRight

July 16th, 2012
12:50 pm

that should be do the time….

DebbieDoRight

July 16th, 2012
12:53 pm

I’m surprised no one has commented on this part of Jim’s column:

The Romney campaign insists that journalists interviewing any of Mitt Romney’s five sons agree to use only quotations that are approved by the press office. And Romney advisers almost always require that reporters ask them for the green light on anything from a conversation that they would like to include in an article.

I find the silence on this unerringly “eery”.

blkshepherd

July 16th, 2012
1:04 pm

First to the Judge and Jury a HUGE I mean HUGE THUMBS UP! and as for the Judge Thank YOU SO VERY MUCH you merely did your Job sending a Clear Message this is the USA 2012. This crap will Not be tolerated against ANYONE!
Its eazy to say that these guys should have received a lighter punishment for damn near Killing a human being because he probably had an affair and was about to expose them. Well guess WHAT? Thats the risk you take being DL. Quite sneaking around and you wont have to worry about being exposed and if you do, Take it like a Man.

I can assure you if they had gotton a slap on the wrist not only would they thought it was Nothing that they did to that Human being(gays are still Human last time I checked) But they would sure enough do it again and again and other seeing the light punishment they received will Definately try their hand at the same thing possibly injuring someone seriously or killing them, then WHAT? Its too damn Late to say I am sorry to that young man’s family and had it been a relative of mine they did that too and then got off light, my family would be Looking to serve Justice even if it meant taking it in our own hands. Point is a slap on the wrist constitutes its OK, well its NOT OK.

It is the same when it comes to theft. Probation and a slap on the wrist which is exactly the same thing, means the crime aint that serious thats why I received probation. Heck Probation aint Nothing. I can do it again and again, all I am going to receive is probation.

If any of you think it was alright for that young man to be beaten then You yourselves need a good old fashion beat down that Brandon White received and the beaters should Only receive a few months of probation.

Perhaps then you will see that your life is Not worth anything and anyone can almost take it, should only receive a slap on the wrist/probation so the can do it again and next time perhaps Kill someone. NONE of you are Brandon White therefore NONE of you received the pain and suffering he suffered therefore NONE of you can fix your mouth to say the punishment was Too hard because It did not happen to you, any of your family members, or friends.
Let’s Hope something like that happens to YOU. Then say the punishment is to light.

You humans amaze me sometimes and make me embarrassed to consider myself part of the so-called Non compassioned human race.

g

July 16th, 2012
1:07 pm

its true, locking people into a gladiator pit for years isnt going to make them nicer people

Last Man Laying Down

July 16th, 2012
1:11 pm

That tea party lady isn’t in the circles I’m in. The Romney campaign and supporters are on fire and there is plenty of enthusiasm amongst Republicans. Those folks need to join the Libertarian Party where they are more closely aligned. They’re RINOs; not recently former Democrats, but it’s still the same. Even if she was correct, why Sarah Palin? Aren’t there some other Republican women better suited to the job?

WOW

July 16th, 2012
1:52 pm

Ok, Jay. You’re right. Put them in jail for 10 years and forget about them. They’re just young black men, anyway, right?

Why can’t both be done? They should get the chance to redeme themselves and become productive members of society. However, they have to know that actions have consequences. Rep. Bell should instead of advocating leniency on sentencing, be advocating for more education programs in our prison system. While they serve their time, they get GED’s and maybe enter some job certification programs.

LawDawg

July 16th, 2012
1:55 pm

Conservative definition of reporting bias: 1) reporting that does not dramatically cohere to their belief system; 2) reporting accurate information; 3) Failing to yell OOOOBBBBAAAMMMMAAA KKKKEENNNYYYAAANNNN SOOCIIALLIST!!!!!

LawDawg

July 16th, 2012
1:56 pm

“Put them in jail for 10 years and forget about them. They’re just young black men, anyway, right?”

No, they are violent criminals. Lock them away (forever as far as I am concerned) for the good of the decent people in this city and state (of all colors and ages).

trixie

July 16th, 2012
2:08 pm

i dont think in this case “Pittsburgh” is spelled with an “H” but thanks for not forgetting about it.

atlnative

July 16th, 2012
2:18 pm

Violent criminals should be taken off the streets,tried and convicted,to the full extent of the law. No one should be afraid to walk down the street of any community,regardless of sexual orientation!

plow

July 16th, 2012
2:26 pm

Yeah, let $Palin speak. I hear she comes at a discount these days.

yellowdog

July 16th, 2012
2:41 pm

i agree however these thugs beat this man up. black or white they are thugs they should be punished

Hush little baby

July 16th, 2012
3:21 pm

Baron Dekalb,

You won’t find any place where Galloway has supported T-splost but that won’t stop Centrist and the like of him from whining incessantly about supposed bias.

It’s a favorite tactic of the victim class in this country. The saddest part of this is that they surround themselves with so many like minds that they aren’t capable of seeing anything beyond the constant drumbeat of “medier bi-us” and the baby squalling that has come to be their calling card.

@Roekest

July 16th, 2012
3:40 pm

Rodney King was beaten by a group of “thugs from the cul-de-sac” and not one of them ever served a day in jail?

Roekest

July 16th, 2012
4:02 pm

@ @Roekest 3:40pm,

Rodney King was a thug and resisted arrest. Response, while excessive, was appropriate. I’d rather the LAPD beat a thug down excessively, than to have that same thug harm my family because a cop was too afraid of the political ramifications of questioning a black man.

Hopper

July 16th, 2012
4:40 pm

Oh please, please, do let Sarah Palin speak at the GOP convention. She’ll be wonderful, she’ll thrill the crowds, she’ll turn on the unenlightened and upbraid the thoughtful. She’ll be a perfect addition to the crowning of a man so riddled with flip-flop principles it’s a marvel he can even stand up straight. C’mon Sarah!