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Monthly Archives: July 2018

Georgia State Senator Under Fire For Photo With Armed Anti-Government Militia

A Republican state senator is facing a wave of criticism after he appeared in a photo with heavily armed members of an anti-government group during a rally in Georgia on Saturday opposing the Islamic legal and moral code.

At the ?March Against Sharia? rally in Atlanta, lawmaker Michael Williams posed for the photo with members of the Georgia Security Force III% militia, a local chapter of a national pro-Donald Trump group that supports anti-immigration and anti-government beliefs.

In a tweet of the photo shared by the Southern Poverty Law Center?s Hatewatch Twitter account, three men can be seen making a hand sign with three fingers extended, which is associated with white supremacy. Williams, who recently announced his candidacy for Georgia?s governorship in the 2018 election, is in the middle of the photo, holding a small American flag.

Williams did not respond to HuffPost?s request for comment on the photo, but his spokesman told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution that he posed with the group because they appeared to be ?pro-gun supporters.?

?We don?t know about the supposed symbolism, only that a bunch of liberal hate groups were online tweeting about it,? Williams spokesman Seth Weathers told the newspaper. ?This is the stupidest thing in the world ? that we are debating whether grown men were supposedly holding their fingers the wrong way during a photo.?

Williams, the first elected official in Georgia to endorse Trump?s presidential candidacy, supports expanding gun rights.

An estimated 30 to 50 people attended the rally, along with a small number of counter-protesters, according to reports from the Southern Poverty Law Center and the Los Angeles Times.

It was one of more than two dozen ?March Against Sharia? rallies that took place in cities across the country ? including one in San Bernardino at the site of the 2015 shootings by a Muslim couple that left 14 people dead. ACT for America, the nation?s largest anti-Muslim group which has been labeled as extremist by the Southern Poverty Law Center, organized the marches. (Read HuffPost?s take on what this weekend?s marches were really about here.)

Williams spoke at the rally in Atlanta.

?We all need to come together, put aside some of our petty differences and unite together to fight sharia law,? he said, according to the L.A. Times. ?We do not need it in our country. Overseas in Europe and other places, they?re throwing people off of buildings, they?re decapitating people because they do not believe the things they believe.?

ACT for America reportedly invited the Georgia III% Security Force to the march to provide security for protestors, the Southern Poverty Law Center reported. The militia members attended the rally armed with handguns and rifles.

A 2016 New York Times profile on the Georgia militia group reported that the group trains rigorously with firearms and believes that liberals, Muslims and immigrants represent some of the biggest threats to America.

Williams? photo with the group spurred several critical tweets.

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Ocean City Passes Emergency Law To Protect Families From Topless Sunbathers

The City Council of a Maryland beach community held a special session Saturday to pass an ?emergency ordinance? explicitly barring women from removing their tops at the beach ? or in any other public place.

Ocean City Mayor Richard Meehan called the meeting to ?protect? family rights after the local shore patrol decided they would no longer order topless women to cover up. That decision was made after local ?top free? activist Chelsea Covington complained to officials last summer that the state constitution prohibits gender discrimination, which she argued would make laws ordering only women to wear tops illegal.

Worcester County State?s Attorney Beau Oglesby decided that the law on indecent exposure was unclear and asked for a final opinion from the Maryland attorney general?s office, which is still pending. Until an opinion is issued, the beach patrol did not believe it could take action against topless women as it had in the past, said Ocean City Beach Patrol Captain Butch Arbin.

That?s when Meehan went into overdirve. ?Ocean City is a family resort and we intend to do whatever is within our ability to also protect the rights of those families,? he declared.

The city?s new emergency ordinance amends the town code concerning nudity. While continuing to prohibit exposure of male and female genitalia, it also clearly declares that it is illegal to expose ?the female breast with less than a fully opaque covering? on the beach and in any public area. Anyone who does so will be subject to a fine of up to $1,000. 

The ordinance, read during the videotaped session Saturday, states that ?there is no constitutional right for an individual to appear … in a state of nudity.?

It adds: ?Whatever personal right one has to be nude or in a state of nudity, that right becomes subject to government interest and regulation when one seeks to exercise it in public.?

The ordinance was passed unanimously and took effect immediately. 

Meehan declared at the end of the session: ?We will not allow women to be topless on our beach or on any public property within the city limits. We have never been a topless beach and we will not become a topless beach.?

A town spokeswoman said the law won?t affect breastfeeding.

At the start of the session, City Solicitor Guy Ayres read the ordinance, which included a list of reasons why the law is legal and why it does not violate constitutional protections against discrimination.

?Equal protection? does not demand ?that things that are different in fact be treated the same in law, nor that a government pretend there are no physiological differences between men and women,? Ayres read..

He added: ?People don?t have the right to impose their lifestyle on others who have an equal right to be left alone. Ayres also said that ?females baring their breasts in public, although not offensive to everyone, is still seen by society as unpalatable.?

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