Transportation officials weigh new rules on airline refunds

The U.S. Department of Transportation plans to propose new airline consumer protections in the coming months to address travelers’ struggles to get refunds. The COVID-19 pandemic has exacerbated problems consumers face with airlines. A report released by the U.S. Public Interest Research Group says complaints related to refunds have continued to run higher this year than prepandemic levels. Airlines often give out vouchers instead of refunds when passengers with non-refundable fares cancel their travel plans. The federal DOT said it expects to issue a proposal for new rules for ticket refunds ...

David Perdue plans to run for Georgia governor in 2022

ATLANTA — Former U.S. Sen. David Perdue plans to challenge Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp in the Republican primary next year, according to multiple people with knowledge of his decision, setting up a divisive contest between two of the state’s leading GOP figures ahead of a likely general election matchup with Stacey Abrams. Perdue’s decision is expected to be delivered Monday and comes days after Abrams, an icon to many Democrats, announced she would run for governor for a second time. Perdue has told allies he was motivated to join the race because he fears Kemp can’t defeat the Democrat again. Hi...

Why does a longtime white supremacist think he can win an election?

ATLANTA — Here’s a quick reality check on the body politic: Chester Doles is running for office. Doles, a former leader of the Ku Klux Klan and the neo-Nazi National Alliance, filed paperwork earlier this year to run for a spot on the Lumpkin County Board of Commissioners in 2022. He ramped up his campaign this fall, riding a souped-up Jeep in Dahlonega’s annual Gold Rush parade. He’s been to prison twice, marched with white nationalists in Charlottesville in 2017′s deadly “Unite the Right” rally, and, while he claims to have left white supremacist groups behind, stays in contact with skinhead...

‘This has been happening for a long time’: Modern-day slavery uncovered in South Georgia

ATLANTA — A yearslong human trafficking operation trapped migrant workers in “modern-day slavery” on South Georgia farms, according to a federal indictment unsealed last week. Victims include over one hundred laborers smuggled from Mexico and Central America into “brutal” and “inhumane” working conditions. Under the threat of gun violence, some were allegedly forced to dig for onions with their bare hands, earning only 20 cents for each bucket harvested. At least two people died on the job. Another was allegedly repeatedly raped. When not out in the fields, workers were detained in work camps ...

‘A mess’: Kemp under pressure from both sides in 2022 race

ATLANTA — Gov. Brian Kemp is in an epic political squeeze as he runs for a second term, caught between pro-Donald Trump forces pressuring him on his conservative flank and a challenge from Democrat Stacey Abrams on his left. Kemp was always destined for a tough reelection challenge. But Abrams’ entry into the race this week crystallized his dilemma, as Democrats rallied around her rematch bid and Republicans fretted that infighting could end their 20-year grip on the Governor’s Mansion. Abrams’ announcement, while not unexpected, could speed up former U.S. Sen. David Perdue’s decision on wheth...

Relief sets in for Arbery’s family, community after guilty verdicts

BRUNSWICK, Ga. — For Wanda Cooper-Jones, the quest for justice after her son’s death was an arduous journey. When Ahmaud Arbery was killed in February of last year, local authorities looked the other way. Despite having the cellphone video of the 25-year-old being chased down by three white men and shot in the road, Glynn County police did not make any arrests. The night of the shooting, an investigator called Cooper-Jones and said her son was killed by a homeowner while he was committing a burglary. She immediately knew something was off. In the weeks that followed, the grieving mother demand...

5-year-old Ga. girl is shot to death after another child finds gun

ATLANTA — A 5-year-old girl was shot and killed when a gun discharged at a South Fulton apartment complex Thursday night. Detectives from the South Fulton Police Department are now investigating the incident, which occurred about 7 p.m. Thanksgiving at the Garden of Camp Creek Apartments. Police confirmed reports identifying the victim as Khalis Eberhart. South Fulton Police Lt. Jubal Rogers told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution a bullet struck Eberhart in the chest after another child in the residence found an unsecured gun and fired the weapon. Neighbors told Channel 2 Action News that Eberh...

Devonia Inman, behind bars for 23 years, was wrongfully convicted, judge says

Finding prosecutors withheld critical evidence, a judge has thrown out the conviction of a man imprisoned for 23 years for a South Georgia murder he insists he did not commit. The ruling grants a new trial to Devonia Inman, who was sentenced to life in prison without parole for the 1998 murder of Donna Brown, a Taco Bell night manager in Adel. She was slain in the restaurant’s parking lot, and her killer took from her about $1,700 of the day’s receipts after shooting her in the face. Inman’s conviction was later upheld on appeal even though DNA evidence strongly suggested another man committed...

Republicans clear path for final vote on new Georgia congressional map

ATLANTA — A redistricting proposal designed to gain Republicans a congressional seat from Georgia passed its last committee Saturday, setting up a final vote Monday. The map redistricts Georgia so that it would have nine Republican and five Democratic districts, positioning Republicans to increase their current 8-6 majority of Georgia’s congressional delegation after Democrats won two Atlanta-area seats in recent elections. Republicans could pick up a seat by shifting the borders of a north Atlanta district currently held by Democratic U.S. Rep. Lucy McBath. The new district lines would move i...

Travel woes linger after gun discharge rattles Atlanta airport

ATLANTA — Despite claims on social media, there was not an active shooter at Atlanta’s airport, said Hartsfield-Jackson officials in a statement posted to Twitter. A gun was accidentally fired at the airport around 1:30 p.m. Saturday at the security screening area. And it sent social media into a frenzy as visitors posted videos to Twitter of chaos unraveling. Neither passengers nor employees are in danger, according to the statement. An investigation is currently ongoing, and Atlanta Police Department is on the scene. The airport has since resumed normal operations, officials said in another ...

Black pastors have always been the first to call

ATLANTA — Friday morning, the Rev. Shanan Jones was waiting for a call from a family needing help. The family’s matriarch had died and while her estate was in probate, a tree toppled on her home. The bereaved had reached out to Jones, who plans to help them find an attorney to settle the issue. He recently worked with the family of a suicidal youth and referred them to an agency that could help. He’s also been front and center on voting rights issues and there when families have called seeking help when a relative is incarcerated, in the hospital or has died. Not all needing help are members o...

Lawyer in Arbery case calls ongoing demonstrations a ‘public lynching’

BRUNSWICK, Ga. — Arguing Friday for a mistrial over what he called undue influence by the “woke mob” outside the courthouse, the embattled attorney representing one of three white men charged in Ahmaud Arbery’s killing likened the demonstrations to “a public lynching.” Kevin Gough has been widely criticized over his repeated attempts to have demonstrations prohibited on courthouse grounds and high-profile civil rights leaders banned from the gallery. In response to his remarks about the Revs. Al Sharpton and Jesse Jackson, hundreds of Black clergy members descended on the courthouse Thursday. ...

Stacey Abrams’ voting rights non-profit raised $51 million in 2020

The non-profit wing of the voting rights group Stacey Abrams founded after losing the 2018 election to Gov. Brian Kemp reported raising about $51 million in 2020, according to tax records obtained by the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. The tax filing for Fair Fight Action Inc., showed the organization spent about $19 million on legal services in 2020. Fair Fight Action filed a federal lawsuit in 2018 alleging widespread voting problems in Georgia, including broken-down machines, long lines, inaccurate results, canceled absentee ballots and voter registrations that either had been canceled or had...

‘A life-or-death situation’: Shooter in Arbery case testifies in his own defense

BRUNSWICK, Ga. — The man who killed Ahmaud Arbery took the stand Wednesday afternoon and testified that he felt he faced a “life-or-death situation” when he fired the fatal shotgun blasts. Travis McMichael, his voice quavering, shed tears when he said he shot the unarmed Arbery because he felt he had no other choice. The 35-year-old defendant also said he “didn’t want to escalate the situation” as he and his father, both armed, chased Arbery down the street that afternoon in his truck. Their goal, he said, was to follow Arbery until police arrived. He believed the 25-year-old Arbery was respon...

Weighing primary challenge, former Sen. Perdue suggests Georgia Gov. Kemp ‘caved’ in 2020

ATLANTA — Former U.S. Sen. David Perdue delivered his sharpest comments yet about a possible primary challenge to Gov. Brian Kemp, saying Wednesday that divided Republicans feel the “people in power haven’t fought for them” during the 2020 elections. Once a staunch ally of Kemp, Perdue has been seriously considering a primary challenge against Kemp for weeks. The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported in October that Perdue was calling donors and operatives to build support for a possible campaign against the first-term Republican governor. Perdue, who was defeated by Democrat Jon Ossoff in Jan...