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Laken Riley murder: Athens-Clark County Sheriff campaigned on not ‘cooperating’ with ICE: ‘culture of fear’

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After the Athens-Clarke County mayor insisted that the community where nursing student Laken Riley was murdered by an alleged illegal immigrant was not a sanctuary city, residents pointed to the sheriff who campaigned on not cooperating with ICE.

A resurfaced video from 2020 appears to show then-candidate John Williams, who is now the Athens-Clark County sheriff, stating that he would not cooperate with ICE.

“It is not my intention to cooperate with detainers,” Williams told a reporter from the Athens Politics Nerd. “I see it as the sheriff’s responsibility to protect the community. We can’t help with a culture of fear in our community and expect our community to respond and help us in situations.”

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While campaigning, Williams promised that he would not be “contributing” to a “culture of fear.”

“Building relationships is key and if we’re antagonizing people because they are undocumented, then they built that fear in them, and they’re not likely to come to us. Not only when we need their help, but when they need our help,” Williams said. “So that’s not something that we’d be doing. We won’t be doing any types of round-ups, and we won’t be contributing to that culture of fear.”

“We want people to respect the police, but we also want them to trust us,” he added.

Protester interrupts Athens mayor

The sheriff’s past comments were brought up after angry Georgia residents interrupted Athens Mayor Kelly Girtz on Wednesday morning as he held a news briefing on the city’s plan to increase public safety.

Protesters interrupted him as he attempted to dismiss “the notion of a sanctuary city.”

“You’re a liar,” one man shouted, repeatedly. “You’re the one who is guilty and got blood on your hands for this murder, sir!”

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Girtz said Georgia law doesn’t allow for sanctuary cities and repeatedly rejected the characterization of Athens as a sanctuary.

“There’s been no legislation from this government that’s created sanctuary city status,” he said.

Jose Antonio Ibarra Mugshot

 

The community’s outrage came after Riley was allegedly murdered on the campus of the University of Georgia by Jose Antonio Ibarra, an alleged illegal immigrant from Venezuela.

Fox News’ Claudia Kelly-Bazan and Michael Ruiz contributed to this report.

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