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Georgia Democrats are introducing new laws in response to the spa killings.

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Georgia Democrats are introducing new laws in response to the spa killings.
Georgia Democrats are introducing new laws in response to the spa killings.

Georgia Democrats are introducing new laws in response to the spa killings.

 

In reaction to the recent shootings at massage parlors in metro Atlanta that left eight people dead, including six women of Asian descent, Democratic lawmakers in Georgia have introduced a slew of bills, but it’s doubtful they’ll see action anytime soon.

The plans would impose a five-day waiting period for gun sales, establish a statewide 911 call translation system, and improve law enforcement training with an emphasis on outreach in other languages. Democrats say they’re reacting to reports that people who didn’t speak fluent English had difficulty communicating with responding officers, as well as reports that the gunman purchased a gun the morning of the shootings.

The bills are unlikely to pass this year because they are too late for procedural deadlines and there are just a few days left in the legislative session, which ends on March 31. Furthermore, any legislation restricting gun purchases is likely to be met with fierce resistance in the Republican-controlled legislature.

“We’re certainly looking forward to next session, only because of the way the process is going,” Democratic state Rep. Marvin Lim, who is one of the Asian American legislators supporting the bills, said. “However, that isn’t the point. He said that “we needed to act now and send a message” to the mourning communities, as well as begin a dialogue with law enforcement agencies about accessibility.

“The three bills seek to address different device failures,” Lim said.

Robert Aaron Long, a 21-year-old white man, is accused of murdering eight people at three different massage parlors in the Atlanta area. Another individual was wounded, but he or she was unharmed.

Rep. Sam Park, a Democrat, is the prime sponsor of a bill that would impose a five-day waiting period for gun purchases.

“This is a common-sense initiative to minimize gun abuse, based on impulsivity, based on rage,” Park said. “I think we’re all astounded that this man, the gunman, was able to get a gun and kill eight people in less than 24 hours.”

Park agreed that the bill would be impossible to pass in Georgia, where Republicans hold the governorship and the General Assembly. However, he predicted that gun control would be a major concern in the 2022 gubernatorial election, as all of those positions will be on the ballot.

“It’s important to show the people that we’re fighting for them, that we’re fighting to protect our community so that these kinds of tragic events don’t happen again,” Park said.

Tyler Harper, a Republican state senator who has introduced gun-rights bills in the past, says he opposes a five-day waiting period.

Harper said, “I believe it is an undue burden on law-abiding citizens’ ability to access and exercise their constitutional rights.”

In the aftermath of the killings, Democrats introduced two more bills aimed at improving communication between minority communities and law enforcement. One plan calls for the Georgia Emergency Response Authority to set up a statewide 911 call translation system. The other will require the Georgia agency in charge of law enforcement training to provide community response and strategic outreach training in languages other than English.

Sen. Sheikh Rahman, a Democrat from Bangladesh, was the first person of Asian origin to be elected to the Georgia state Senate.

“I have people from over a hundred different countries that speak over a hundred different languages. In our culture, reporting is a major issue,” said Rahman, whose first language is Bengali.

Although 911 center leaders admit that translation is a problem, they claim that many 911 centers have already solved it by using on-call translation services.

The secretary of the Georgia Emergency Response Authority, which aims to strengthen emergency communications in Georgia, is William Wright, the manager of Barrow County E-911. He said that although each emergency dispatch center is managed on a local level and can vary, the use of translation services is popular nationwide.

“The dispatcher will call a number and an interpreter will come on the line,” Wright explained.

He claims that this is a more realistic choice than attempting to employ multilingual operators. “Our city and our country are so diverse now that staffing a 911 center with someone who can speak every language is extremely difficult,” Wright said.

Rahman said that he wanted law enforcement officers to receive “basic instruction” as well as easy access to interpreters. “Just to get the conversation started,” he said, officers could carry a simple reference card with some basic phrases in popular foreign languages.

“You don’t have to be a linguist,” Rahman said.

Mario Gonzalez, the husband of shooting victim Delaina Ashley Yaun, was detained, according to Park, and his arrest is just one example of why police need to be better at dealing with minorities. Gonzalez, who survived the assault, claims he was kept in handcuffs for four hours after the incident.

An email sent to the Georgia Public Safety Training Center, which trains several police officers throughout the state, was not immediately returned.

On Tuesday, the Democrats who are sponsoring the bills released a joint statement calling for action.

The statement said, “We look to our past and where this country has been, and we look forward to the change we need to see.”

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CSP communications tech arrested on suspicion of sex assault

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Man allegedly strangles his wife in a Centennial library and surrenders to police

A communications technician with the Colorado State Patrol in Alamosa has been arrested on suspicion of sexual assault.

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Final farewell for firefighter killed battling fire in vacant home

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Final farewell for firefighter killed battling fire in vacant home

ST. LOUIS – The funeral service for a St. Louis firefighter killed one week ago while battling a fire at a vacant north St. Louis home will take place Thursday morning.

Benjamin Polson, 33, graduated from St. John Vianney High School in 2007. He then earned a bachelor’s degree in economics from Missouri State University. After getting his MBA from Drury and graduating with a law degree from UMKC, Polson joined the city fire department in November of 2019. He followed in his father’s footsteps, a retired St. Louis City Fire Department captain. 

Firetrucks lined the street outside the Cathedral Basilica for this morning’s funeral. Last night, a huge American flag flew outside Kutis funeral Home during Polson’s visitation. Inside Kutis many people paid their respects to Polson including firefighters in full uniform. The firefighters came through saluting Polson. Among those taking part was Chief Dennis Jenkerson.

After the service at 10 a.m., there will be a procession to Resurrection Cemetery in Affton where an interment will take place. The procession will leave from there and go west on Lindell. It will then head south on Kingshighway to Chippewa. The procession will turn right on Chippewa to Mackenzie Road. Then it will take a left into the cemetery. The public is encouraged to line the procession route to show support for Polson and his family.

The tragedy that claimed Polson’s life took place on Thursday, January 13 at a vacant home on Cote Brilliante in north city. Polson and other firefighters were responded to a fire at the vacant building. While he and other firefighters were inside checking to make sure nobody was trapped, the roof of the building collapsed. This killed Polson and injured another firefighter.

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Pandemic to close two more high-profile St. Louis County shops

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These St. Louis-area stores are closing by end of January

Correction: This article has been revised to correct the following information. World News is expected to close in February, not January, and has not filed for bankruptcy.

ST. LOUIS COUNTY, Mo. — Two St. Louis-area stores announced they will soon be closing their doors.

World News in Clayton expects to close by the middle of February. The store, which first opened in 1967, cites the pandemic and declining sales as the reason for closing.

Meanwhile, Brooks Brothers also plans to shutter its store in Plaza Frontenac on Jan. 25, but its outlet store in Chesterfield will remain open.

Peter Boumgarden, co-professor of practice for family enterprise at Washington University, said the ongoing pandemic has contributed to businesses closing across the country.

“In my view, if you look at the last couple of years, closures of small businesses are up,” said Peter Boumgarden, co-professor of practice for family enterprise at Washington University. “So, it’s about 200-thousand more closures than normal in the year from March of 2020 to March or April of the last year according to the Fed.”

Boumgarden said another factor to consider is retirees in their 50’s, 60’s, and 70’s leaving the workforce. But Boumgarden adds that businesses come and go.

“In a typical year you’ll see seven to eight percent of businesses go out of business,” he said. “So, it’s a relatively common occurrence across the country, and in St. Louis in particular. When you take it down to a personal level, one of the recommendations I would have for my small business owner friends is if you actually care deeply about the landscape of the small bookstores or restaurants and the like you care about, now is actually the time to go out there and support them.”

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