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Will Smith and director Antoine Fuqua have pulled their runaway slave movie out of Georgia due to controversial voter ID law.

Smith's new slavery film titled, Emancipation, was scheduled to begin filming on in Atlanta in June, but he is now looking for a new location.

Smith, who is starring in, as well as producing the movie, blamed "institutional racism," for his decision.

"The new Georgia voting laws are reminiscent of voting impediments that were passed at the end of Reconstruction to prevent many Americans from voting. Regrettably, we feel compelled to move our film production work from Georgia to another state."

The movie, based on a true story, will likely be filmed in Louisiana, where the actual events took place.

In the film, Smith plays a slave who escaped the plantation and joined the Union Army after he was whipped to within an inch of his life.

The historic photo of the ex-slave's scarred back, taken during an Army medical examination, became known as "The Scourged Back."

The photo was published by The Independent and Harper's Weekly in 1863, and served to embody the cruelty of slavery in America.

"It was the first viral image of the brutality of slavery that the world saw, which is interesting, when you put it into perspective with today and social media and what the world is seeing, again," Fuqua told Deadline last year. "You can't fix the past, but you can remind people of the past and I think we have to, in an accurate, real way."

Emancipation is the first film to pull out of Georgia since the new laws went into effect.

Major League Baseball pulled the All-Star game out of Georgia after Gov. Brian Kemp signed the new election bill into law in March.

The new election law requires identification to submit absentee ballots by mail.

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Georgia Governor Brian Kemp has lifted all coronavirus restrictions beginning today, April 8.

Georgia restaurants can move tables closer together and moviegoers are no longer required to socially distance in theaters.

Atlanta's nightclubs were already packed since last summer, but more people can gather together in churches and concert venues.

"As cases and hospitalizations have continued to decline, and more Georgians are being vaccinated, the Governor is continuing to protect lives and livelihoods by repealing remaining restrictions to help Georgians get back to normal," Kemp said in a statement.

Kemp was criticized by Democrats after he signed a new voter bill into law that requires voter ID to submit absentee ballots.

Kemp resisted tightening Georgia's election laws when former President Donald Trump ran for reelection in 2020.

But Democrats say Kemp is suppressing the Black vote to secure his own reelection next November.

After speaking with Stacey Abrams, Major League Baseball (MLB) moved the All-Star game from Atlanta to Colorado, where voter ID is required and election laws are even tighter.

But the league justified the move because the Black population in Atlanta is over 51% but Blacks make up only 9.2% of the population in Denver.

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Furious Democrats reacted to the arrest of a Georgia lawmaker who interrupted Gov. Brian Kemp's livestream announcement after he signed a sweeping election bill into law on Thursday.

The election bill requires voter ID to request and submit absentee ballots, limits the number of ballot drop boxes, and allows the Georgia State Elections Board to take over county elections boards if there are problems with ballot counting.

Democrats accused Kemp of voter suppression, while Republicans wonder why he didn't strengthen voter laws during the presidential elections in 2020 and the Senate runoffs in January.

Democrat representatives and activists gathered to protest the signing of the bill at the state capitol on Thursday.

Georgia State Representative Park Cannon (D-Atlanta) was arrested for banging on Gov. Kemp's door during his livestream announcement.

According to the Atlanta Journal Constitution:

"Cannon was with several other protesters when she knocked on Kemp’s office door, saying the public should be allowed to witness the announcement of the bill signing. The sweeping legislation requires ID for absentee ballots, limits drop boxes and changes early voting hours."

Cell phone video shows Georgia State Troopers forcibly dragging a handcuffed Cannon through the Capitol building and shoving her into a patrol car, as she yelled, "There's no reason for me to leave... I am a legislator!"

The reaction was furious on Twitter. One Twitter user wrote: "She was arrested more harshly than a white man who murdered 8 Asian women."

While another liberal tweeted: "This is outrageous. The @GOP is suppresing democracy [sic]."

And a third Twitter user wrote: "She was arrested for standing by a door! ????"

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A liquid nitrogen leak killed 6 people and injured 9 others at a Georgia food packing plant at 10:12 a.m. on Thursday.

Emergency medical personnel responded to a 911 call about people suffering from burns at Prime-Pak Foods, Inc. in Gainesville, about 60 miles northeast of Atlanta.

Hall County Fire and Rescue spokesman Zachary Brackett said a hazardous materials team also responded to the poultry packing plant, MSN reported.

A large number of employees were evacuated from the plant and multiple people were transported to hospitals.

Roads around the facility were shut down by police until the leak was contained.

A school bus took 130 employees to a nearby church to be evaluated by medical personnel.

Nitrogen is often used as a coolant in refrigeration systems to store food at extremely low temperatures.

Liquid nitrogen is a colorless, odorless, tasteless viscous gas that can't be detected by humans. Liquid nitrogen evaporates when exposed to warm air and it displaces the oxygen content in the air because nitrogen molecules are larger than oxygen molecules.

Humans die by asphyxiation as the nitrogen robs the body of oxygen. Inhaling pure nitrogen causes death in 40 seconds.

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1,000 Georgia residents who were caught double-voting in Georgia's primary could face felony charges and jail time.

Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger said Tuesday that his office would investigate and, if appropriate, bring charges against anyone who voted twice in June.

Residents who were caught double-voting had cast their vote by mail and then in person on the day of the election.

"A double voter knows exactly what they’re doing, diluting the votes of each and every voter that follows the law," Raffensperger told reporters on Tuesday. "Those that make the choice to game the system are breaking the law. And as secretary of state, I will not tolerate it."

Raffensperger, a Republican, said there weren't enough double-votes to change the outcome of the primary elections.

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President Trump and other Republicans warned of the potential for voter fraud with mail-in ballots. But Scott Hogan, executive director of the Democratic Party of Georgia, dismissed any suggestion of voter fraud.

Hogan said voter fraud is rare and he accused Raffensperger of wasting the taxpayer's time investigating double-voters.

"It is clear that rather than do his job of promoting the safety and security of our voting process, the secretary of state is instead pushing the GOP’s voting conspiracy theories and disinformation," Hogan said.

Viral Twitter photos that show students crowding a Georgia high school hallway resulted in the suspension of a student who took the photos.

The photos were taken at North Paulding High School in Dallas, Georgia on the first day of school this week. The school is less than 50 miles northwest of Atlanta.

The photo shows students - many not wearing face masks - crowded in a packed hallway on their first day back to class since the coronavirus pandemic.

More photos were tweeted from the same high school on Day 2 that showed even fewer students wearing face masks.

15-year-old student Hannah Watters was suspended for 5 days for posting the images on Twitter, according to her mother, Lynne Watters, who said she filed a grievance with the school Thursday morning.

"I expressed my concerns and disagreement with that punishment," Lynne Watters said in a text message to the Chicago Tribune.

In an email to Fox News, North Paulding High School principal Gabe Carmona said a few cases of Covid-19 positive students with mild, flu-like symptoms "have already been identified."

Paulding County School District, Brian Otott, defended his decision to reopen schools, saying the viral photo was "taken out of context" because the students were only in the hallway between classes.

"There is no question that the photo does not look good." Masks are not required at the school, Otott said, although the administration strongly encourages masks for students and staff members.

Otott said mask wearing is not mandated at North Paulding High School.

"Wearing a mask is a personal choice," he wrote, "and there is no practical way to enforce a mandate to wear them."

Scott Sweeney, Georgia Board of Education Chairman told Fox News, "Mask wearing is not something that we can mandate... from the state board of education standpoint."

Georgia Governor Brian Kemp refused to mandate face masks in the state, preferring to leave the decision to local communities.

Recent studies published in The Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) concludes face masks - which were designed to stop bacteria - are not effective against viruses such as the coronavirus, which is 100 to 1000 times smaller than bacteria.

"We know that wearing a mask outside health care facilities offers little, if any, protection from infection," the article said.

The New England Journal of Medicine noted "the truth about mass mask wearing, and that the main if not only benefit of masks is that it eases anxiety of some people.”
 

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Georgia Governor Brian Kemp banned face mask ordinances in the state, saying face masks can't be enforced in any city or county in the state.

Kemp, a Republican, signed a new executive order on Wednesday night extending his previous EO after the state experienced a sharp rise in coronavirus cases.

The new order keeps in place restrictions on public gatherings of 50 or more people.

The new order extends social distancing and shelter in place guidelines for nursing home patients and medically fragile.

But Kemp prohibited face mask mandates, saying face mask laws are "too restrictive" and violate the individual rights of healthy people who choose not to wear one.

While lawmakers such as Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms in Atlanta have mandated face masks in their cities and counties, Gov. Kemp said the mask ordinances can not be enforced, meaning citizens who don't wear face masks will not be cited or fined.

Mayor Bottoms announced she contracted the virus - despite wearing face masks for months.

Studies have shown face masks increase the risk of contracting the coronavirus because people repeatedly touch their faces.

Failed gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams slammed Kemp as "incompetent", while the mayor of Savannah lashed out at Kemp, saying "He does not give a damn about us."

"Every man and woman for himself/herself," said Savannah Mayor Van Jonson, a Democrat. "Ignore the science and survive the best you can. In #Savannah, we will continue to keep the faith and follow the science. Masks will continue to be available!”

There were nearly 4,000 "confirmed cases" of coronavirus in Georgia and almost 2,800 people are hospitalized due to COVID-19.

But some residents on Twitter complained that their loved ones are being tested "multiple times" - with each positive test counted as a new case.
 

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Rapper DaBaby and organizers behind his Saturday night concert near Atlanta have come under fire on social media for failing to protect concertgoers against the coronavirus.

Several fans took to social media to say they tested positive after attending his rap concert in Georgia, where organizers failed to enforce social distancing measures.

The "Suge" star ignored coronavirus concerns and pressed ahead with his Fourth of July celebration at the Cosmopolitan Premier Lounge in Decatur, even though positive tests across the state have spiked in recent days.

Prior to the gig, promoter MyDJDre told TMZ the venue would only be at 40 per cent capacity to allow for attendees to socially distance while inside the club.

Organizers said they would turn away fans at the door if they failed to wear a mask or refused to have their temperature checked upon entry.

But concertgoers did not socially distance or wear masks as they stood shoulder-to-shoulder inside the packed club which has room for 4,000 people.

DaBaby was also supposed to be limited to having a three-person entourage with him during his performance, but he arrived at the venue with a bus load of people and brought a crowd up on the stage too.

After the footage began circulating on social media, many concerned users shared their disapproval at the apparent lack of concern for public safety.

Responding to the club's DJ, who boasted about DaBaby's gig attracting "the whole city" in an Instagram post, one person remarked, "I wouldn't be bragging that 'the whole city came out' in the middle of a pandemic."

"This is so irresponsible. You should be ashamed," read another comment.

Another user tweeted: "I absolutely love Dababy and his music but this is such an awful idea. Risking thousands of lives for a silly a** concert is so foolish. Cancel this ridiculousness."

A third user wrote: "For god's sake man America stay home do you not fear death at this point? Who's going to a dababy concert to just see this guy lip sync all of his songs that sound the same anyway."

DaBaby and MyDJDre have yet to respond to the latest backlash.

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LeBron James voiced his concerns about the plethora of glitches that marred Georgia's primary elections on Tuesday.

The Lakers star questioned whether the faulty machines and long lines were "structurally racist."

"Everyone talking about "how do we fix this?" They say "go out and vote?" What about asking if how we vote is also structurally racist?" James tweeted.

James responded to a reporter who noticed the lack of problems voting in the suburbs: "I come over to this side of town, and white folks are strolling in. On my side of town, we brought stadium chairs."

An investigation has been launched into the voting machine breakdowns and long lines which resulted.

Atlanta voters were forced to wait as long as four hours to vote.

Multiple counties reported problems with the voting machines, and confusion reigned over coronavirus rules.

Georgia also received over 1.2 million mail-in ballots -- a record for elections in Georgia.

Georgia usually receives around 40,000 mail-in ballots in any given election, UPI reported.
 

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The Georgia Bureau of Investigation confirmed they are reviewing new surveillance video that shows Ahmaud Arbery was trespassing inside a property under construction.

The new video conflicts with the narrative that 25-year-old Ahmaud Arbery was out for a jog when he was confronted on the road and fatally shot by father and son white supremacists in Brunswick, Georgia.

Arbery was gunned down on Feb. 23 in Satilla Shores, a working class majority white neighborhood in Glynn County in south Georgia.

The triggerman, Travis McMichael, 34, and his father, former cop Gregory McMichael were arrested on Thursday and charged with felony murder and aggravated assault by the GBI.

Cellphone video shows Travis McMichael and Arbery wrestling over Travis' shotgun before Arbery was shot 3 times and bled out on the ground.

Arbery's mother, Wanda Cooper Jones, said her son was out jogging in the neighborhood when he was shot and killed.

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But new surveillance video obtained by the Atlanta Journal-Constitution newspaper shows a person who appears to be Arbery walking near a construction site just down the road from his fatal encounter with the McMichaels.

Arbery, wearing a white t-shirt and khaki shorts, is seen entering a house under construction through the open garage. He disappears from camera view and moments later, he quickly emerges from the house through the front door.

A neighbor wearing overalls stands across the road observing the construction site. A car passes, and a minute later, Arbery runs down Satilla Drive toward Travis McMichael's house.

According to ABC News, Travis called police 12 days before the shooting to report seeing a Black man enter a nearby construction property. The man ran off and Travis waited out front until police arrived.

Benjamin Crump, the attorney representing Arbery's father, said the new video doesn't change the facts that Arbery was simply "out for a jog," and his murder was not justified.

"Our office has reviewed the surveillance video which appears to show a person, believed to be Ahmaud Arbery, entering a property under construction," Crump said in a statement on Saturday. "The individual remains on the property for under 3 minutes before continuing to jog down the road. This video is consistent with the evidence already known to us. Ahmaud Arbery was out for a jog. He stopped by a property under construction where he engaged in no illegal activity and remained for only a brief period. Ahmaud did not take anything from the construction site. He did not cause any damage to the property. He remained for a brief period of time and was not instructed by anyone to leave but rather left on his own accord to continue his jog.

"Ahmaud's actions at this empty home under construction were in no way a felony under Georgia law. This video confirms that Mr. Arbery’s murder was not justified and the actions of the men who pursued him and ambushed him were unjustified. We reiterate, Ahmaud Arbery did not take part in ANY felony, had no illegal substances in his system, was not armed yet was shot three times with a shotgun at close range."

Arbery's father, Marcus Arbery Sr., spoke to Atlanta ABC affiliate WSB at a rally on Saturday.

"If he committed a crime, why don't you call the authorities?" Marcus Arbery said. "But you came at him like you were hunting an animal."