I’m surprised the Sentinel printed this–they usually only print articles in a positive light.  I notice they will write an article about a crime or an accident if it was mentioned on the local news or mentioned on the online message boards.  I don’t subscribe to the Sentinel, but because I’m writing this blog, I will start subscribing soon.  This will allow me to keep the blog more up to date.  College for me starts back in January, so I won’t have as much time to update the blog, but I should have more news-worthy posts.

We’ll do a comment poll for this post–the poll creator is broke.  Do you think the Sentinel should get a makeover?  What should be changed?  What should be removed?  What should be added (maybe updated restaurant inspection scores)?  Perhaps the publisher of the Sentinel will read this and get some ideas.  Maybe what we need in Douglas County is an independent newspaper with a publisher who isn’t afraid to publish negative news and who follows up on news stories.  If I only had the money…

Atlanta area groups defend woman arrested in head scarf issue
By Bobby Moore
Staff Writer

Representatives from several Atlanta area civil liberties and religious organizations joined Friday morning for a press conference regarding the treatment of a woman who was arrested and charged with contempt of court Tuesday at the Douglasville Municipal Court building after she refused to remove a religious head scarf.

Omar Hall told the Associated Press Wednesday that his wife, Lisa Valentine, 40, told the bailiff at the metal detector that she had been in courtrooms before with the scarf on and that removing it would be violation of her Muslim beliefs.

When she turned to leave and allegedly uttered an expletive, Hall said a bailiff handcuffed her and took her before the judge.

Valentine was later sentenced to serve 10 days in the Douglas County Jail by Municipal Court Judge Keith Rollins for contempt of court. She was freed hours later, after the Washington-based Council on American-Islamic Relations urged a federal investigation.

Representatives from the West Metro NAACP, RainbowPUSH Coalition and the Council on American-Islamic Relations joined activists and religious leaders Friday in front of the municipal courtroom on Church Street to speak out against what they considered to be religious discrimination.

“This is not Douglasville 1908… we thought religious intolerance and bigotry were gone,” said Derrick Boazman, a radio show host, community activist and former Atlanta City Councilman.

Boazman made the opening and closing statements.

“What kind of justice can a Muslim expect to get when they walk into his courtroom?,” Boazman said.

Boazman observed that he is a Christian, but this issue matters to him because he feels Valentine’s Constitutional and civil rights have been violated.

“All of us from different religious faiths and traditions can come together and say, ‘This is wrong’,” Boazman said.

Several organizations are working together to potentially file a formal complaint against Rollins, Boazman said.

Daryl Bernard Graham, a spokesperson for the West Metro NAACP, said a letter to Douglasville Police Chief Joe Whisenant and Mayor Mickey Thompson is in the mail demanding an apology for Valentine from the entire city government.

Throughout his speech, Graham said, “Shame on you, Judge Rollins,” and insisted that Rollins step down from his appointed position.

Judge Rollins did not immediately return phone calls from the Sentinel to his home Friday afternoon.

Joe Beasley from the RainbowPUSH Coalition said all government employees should keep in mind that residents and visitors of Douglasville represent numerous cultures and religions.

“We are in a global world, but apparently Judge Rollins has not gotten that message,” Beasley said.

Representatives from the metro area religious community also spoke, including a spokesperson from the Majilis Ashura (Council of Imams) of the Greater Atlanta Area.

A letter from Imam Furquan Muhammad of the Majilis Ashura said, “We are compelled to question the wisdom of disrespecting the religious beliefs of women who choose to adhere to their religious tenets.”

Both Valentine and Hall were present at the press conference. Valentine did not address the press, and Hall thanked everyone who came out to support his wife.

Deputy Police Chief Chris Womack said a smaller protest was held Thursday by four or five people. Womack said the protestors were not unruly, and they carried signs protesting Valentine’s arrest in front of the municipal court building.

According to Womack, no formal report has been filed for Tuesday’s arrest, and the department has not received a written statement from the arresting officer.

Officials announced Friday afternoon that Chief Whisenant will hold a press conference Monday at 10 a.m. in the police department’s administrative building regarding the police department’s stance on Tuesday’s incident.