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‘You’re The One Guilty!’: Protesters Blast Mayor During Laken Riley Press Conference

  Protesters interrupted a press conference on Wednesday as Athens-Clarke County, Georgia, Mayor Kelly Girtz attempted to update the public ...

 Protesters interrupted a press conference on Wednesday as Athens-Clarke County, Georgia, Mayor Kelly Girtz attempted to update the public on new details in the murder of nursing student Laken Riley.

A 26-year-old illegal immigrant from Venezuela, Jose Antonio Ibarra, has been arrested and charged with Riley’s murder. He was also charged with aggravated assault, false imprisonment, hindering a 911 call, and concealing the death of another person. Ibarra reportedly entered the United States illegally in 2022 and was paroled into the country.

As Mayor Girtz, a Democrat, attempted to give the most recent updates in the case, several protesters interrupted the event. They shouted at Girtz, blaming him for making Athens a sanctuary city and claiming that he had facilitated the problem. “We unflinchingly defend the human rights of all people, including citizens, noncitizens and those without documentation,” Girtz said in 2019.


“This is an invasion!” one protester shouted, and Girtz asked him to leave the press conference.

“I want to say that we center our work here in Athens-Clarke County on people’s humanity and part of everybody’s humanity is the expectation of human dignity,” Girtz said, referencing the 2019 resolution and then blaming former President Donald Trump for tensions between American citizens and illegal immigrants. “While 2019 was not that long ago, you might remember the dynamic we were living in in the late teens in this country where you had the president of the United States speak in the most vile terms about people who were foreign-born and you had that notion metastasizing —”

“Oh, please stop it!” the protesters groaned, interrupting the mayor. “This is an invasion!”

“I was a criminal and you know what I thought about doing? Crossing the border to Mexico to get away from my crimes!” one protester shouted, saying that he hadn’t turned away from his life of crime until he found Jesus.

“Son, I’m going to ask you to leave!” Girtz said.

“You are lawless, mayor!” another shouted, and Girtz said he would be happy to schedule a time to address the man’s concerns.

Girtz then tried to argue that “sanctuary city” actually meant “different things to different people depending on the context.”


“We know what it means,” another protester shouted, as others erupted in shouts of “liar!” directed at the mayor.

“You’re the one guilty! You got blood on your hands for this murder, sir!” someone shouted.

Girtz then made the same claim that CNN did earlier in the week, saying that there was no provable connection between immigration and crime: “I caution against conflating immigration and crime. The data demonstrates that the two are not connected.”

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