Pooler Police spotlighted in viral YouTube video by independent journalist

This is one of the more resistant police departments, resulting in a confrontation.

The video was picked up by  WJCL News  on Jan 20,2022 and has 2.6 million views as of June 2.

 

Viewer Comments:

  • Props to WJCL for uploading this video at length. Great news agency.
  • Remember this is being done to someone that knows his rights on a camera. Imagine the things they do to citizens that don’t know their rights off camera.

 

  • The way they treat him is gross, but what’s really nauseating is how much they squirm at not being able to treat him worse.
  • The guy that integrated cameras into cellphones has done more for civil rights by accident than any politician has done for civil rights on purpose.
  • This is normal behavior and, what is soooo disturbing is how much they want to lock this guy up. This is what the police departments do all across the US and cell phones have documented their behavior for everyone to see.
  • to the lady in the office, 10/10 you deserve a promotion. FAULTLESS.

How it should have gone down.
Caller: There’s a stranger in the parking lot.
Police: what’s the problem?
Caller: He’s videotaping.
Police: That’s not a crime.
Caller: But it’s creepy.
Police: That’s not a crime either. Call us back when you actually see a crime committed.

 

  • Okay, hear me out. There are so many of these videos here on Youtube. Always the same exact scenario where the cop throws a fit about a guy with a camera doing absolutely nothing illegal. I’m just an old washed up dart player but I even know what you can and cannot do with a camera and I would even know, depending on what state you live in that you can’t demand ID from someone who is doing nothing wrong. So basically WTF is wrong with all these cops? Is it an ego thing? I definitely feel like the Chief is the type who feels he is above the law. “His parking lot” over and over. First of all, it’s not “his” parking lot. He doesn’t own it and works for the people. This shit pisses me off! Cops apparently need MUCH better training than they have now.

 

  • It seems like a common theme with all of these videos, the police demand and overstep and when the auditor shows their knowledge the cop doesn’t usually correct themselves. They usually always try to stick to their wrong argument. It only makes it worse for them, it makes them look like they have massive egos.
  • All across the United States, police departments are getting educated. It is just a shame that the public has to do it.

 

  • like others have said, if they’ll act like this in front of someone who verbally told them he’s a JOURNALIST with a camera in their face, imagine what they do/how they act towards other people off camera
  • The guy that integrated cameras into cellphones has done more for civil rights by accident than any politician has done for civil rights on purpose.
  • When your an officer who is following the law, you have no issue identifying yourself even on camera. An officer who is required to identify to the public and doesn’t knows they have done something wrong. Go above him and have him fired.
  • Wow….I’m in law enforcement and this was hard to watch. Definitely on the side of the cameraman here, who knew his stuff and carried himself with dignity. The police were terrible- ignorant and worse, likely deliberately obstructive. And yes, they absolutely were bullies. If they had just behaved like the city clerk, (professionally) probably none of us would be watching this video. Very sad….
  • This type of behavior from a public employee is terrifying and dangerous, public employees are funded by citizens but yet they try to bully us around and talk to us like that, completely disgusting for a police chief. If corporate showed up at my job and I acted like this in front of them I would no longer have a job… Completely shameful to your own family and to your country.

 

  • “My employees”, “my parking lot”, and “my building”. That’s what the so called Chief said. He needs to understand absolutely none of that belongs to him! The staff are public servants and the property belongs to the people!
  • I’ve lost count how many times I’ve had similar experiences from small town police officers. It’s plainly evident why so much public trust has been eroded in regards to law enforcement.
  • I was in the army and ive seen what bad leadership ruin a platoon of soldiers. Your right about it starting from the top and bleeding down into the rest. I cant stand cops like this and it gets me so angry watching these videos that my hands start to shake. I give you alot of credit for handling this so smoothly and professionally. I hope this is updated with a good happy video. These guys are crazy.

 

  • I’m from Savannah, Ga 20 mins away and we don’t messed with Pooler police they are rude and have nasty behavior. Imagine not knowing the laws and how many ppl they arrested over stupid stuff.

 

  • Thank you for doing this it’s hard here in georgia. People need to see this stuff.Its awful, people can be taken into custody here without warrants or cause and no due process and any atonney you get charges more than you can afford to get the legal help you need and they are on the same payroll if they are pro bono. The DOJ hasn’t the time to deal with individual cases of civil rights violations outside prison walls.So any entity of law enforcement can go unchecked on taking advantage of people or their families here in georgia
  • I live in Pooler and can absolutely confirm these guys are an egotistical bunch
  • This is why I moved out of Georgia. The corruption in the southeast part of Georgia is insane. Long County, Liberty County is worse then this. And for the Pooler Police Chief to act in this manner is grounds for immediate termination with charges of violating civil rights while under oath.
    • Turner County Georgia was a known speed trap for years. I think they finally got caught
  • This is basically most small towns in the US. “My parking lot” “My lobby” “My building” as the Chief of Police says. and they get away with it day in and day out. Its disgraceful
  • It’s unprofessionalism and ignorance from the top down. You can tell there is a lot of unlawful things going around in the city of Pooler. This is disgusting
  • How do cops still not know when they can or can’t request ID. Seems like basics for their job.
    • They know, they just don’t want the public to know… It is best to learn the law’s for your County, City and state. I have I am in Georgia and know this fact! Those clowns need to be investigated!!!!!
  • Accepting his own compliant then decides for himself he can just make it invalid ? That’s tyranny in every sense. Update ?
  • This type of behavior from a public employee is terrifying and dangerous, public employees are funded by citizens but yet they try to bully us around and talk to us like that, completely disgusting for a police chief. If corporate showed up at my job and I acted like this in front of them I would no longer have a job… Completely shameful to your own family and to your country.
  • I was in the army and ive seen what bad leadership ruin a platoon of soldiers. Your right about it starting from the top and bleeding down into the rest. I cant stand cops like this and it gets me so angry watching these videos that my hands start to shake. I give you alot of credit for handling this so smoothly and professionally. I hope this is updated with a good happy video. These guys are crazy.
  • Good thing you’re recording them because they probably would’ve been a lot more aggressive with you thanks for doing this
  • The chief looked like he wanted to beat the crap out of him! Thank the camera. I feel bad for his wife when he gets home 🤕
  • It’s unprofessionalism and ignorance from the top down. You can tell there is a lot of unlawful things going around in the city of Pooler. This is disgusting

 

  • The scary part of all of this is when we realize that these people write reports on people that a judge reads in a court of law.
  • That cop with the glasses knew where this was going and wanted no part of it lol
  • I love how cops try to make people do as they say simply because they have that uniform. Cops like this bring such shame to their title.
  • It sickens me that public servants allow that police are trained to bully and not to obey constitutional law and rights of those they serve
  • I love to watch cops search for a reason to get you to comply… First they say you can’t be here, then they say it’s private property, then they tell you it’s trespassing, then they try to tell you you can’t film into restricted areas from public. Watching you shoot down everyone of their attempts is hilarious. Really makes our cops look inept
    • dont forget this one….’YOUR MAKING PEOPLE UNCOMFORTABLE’
  • I hate how they always demand ID, often for no reason even when they KNOW they are dealing with someone who either knows the law or chooses to enforce their constitutional right.
  • That is pretty crazy. Would not believe law enforcement believes they can legally do that to a law abiding citizen. What a shame.
  • This is why auditors are so important. 💕
  • Watch an actual boatload of these in the UK. Knowing what we do about US pigs, big up to you, man. UK auditors would never have left the building, but I totally understand why you would in America. Before you know it, we’d have a body bag, a lost camera, no body worn camera footage, and an F-ton of lies. Respect. 👊❤
  • The city clerk and both security guards know more about constitutional law and rights, than the ones who swore an oath to protect those very same rights.
  • “This is the public lobby, you’re gonna kick me out of the public lobby too, chief?” That part was so funny to me. 😂
  • Utterly pathetic behavior! They’re supposed to be “law” enforcement, not “feelings” enforcement.
  • As much as I think this guy on camera is being a pain in the ass, at the same time, I appreciate that we have rights in this country and law enforcement officers are public servant who have to obey the laws themselves and follow the protocols.
  • “We need backup immediately, this guy keeps talking about his rights”
  • Without taking this to court. NOTHING will happen or change.
  • Did they get away with bullying you? That’s at least debatable. It depends on, if you let them get away. There should be a follow up. Like you said, go above the Chiefs head. Ok, excellent job on the video, overall. Just one small note, the guards from the court house, didn’t treat you the same as everyone else. They held you up, from your Right, even if it was just for a short moment.
  • Notice his he said “get out of ‘my’ parking lot.” It’s because that’s how he sees it he believes that’s ”his” building “his” employees when really it’s “our” parking lot and “our” building that’s a big part of the problem
  • Don’t assume the mayor doesn’t go along with this. The citizens of Pooler have to push back against the mayor and City Council and anyone else who approves the appointments to City positions.
  • ugh, these cops are so ignorant and power hungry. love to the auditors for taking the time to educate cop gangs. I pray the auditors get law representation to gain awareness and better protection. I blame the us Supreme Court for ruling cops don’t actually have to know the law they enforce at the point of a gun and gang behavior.
  • i love how much they back down and run away when they realise you know your rights
  • Whilst I can understand the frustration of those officers, they really do need to be up to date in what is and is not allowable under the law. They looked chumps as they were in the wrong.
  • Guy says – “I am just an employee here.”, but he is wearing a badge on his belt. They don’t issue badges to “just employees”. Only sworn officers receive badges.
    •  @Kirk Callender  I thought that too but he gave his name and badge number when asked then later took the badge off. I’m pretty sure he lied.
    •  @Fly Over Radio  Exactly what I was gonna say. He gave his name and number and identified as a policeman. If he wasn’t then why was he surrounding him with the other cops? Seems like he knows police intimidation tactics/practices.
  • These are the kind of thuggish cops which you encounter regularly in these types of jurisdictions. The local citizens are typically afraid to stand up to them since this is, quite frankly, all they know.
  • He investigated himself and found he did nothing wrong! Think…if they treated a law abiding citizen like this, how do they treat suspects?
  • These “tough guys” are the same cowards who run AWAY from danger.
  • Would like to see your complaints being addressed by the Mayor!
  • The lady in the office should be the Police Chief.
  • I’ve been robbed, assaulted, publicly harassed, crashed into, threatened with guns, etc. Never once did the police catch any of the people who did these things, unless it required the absolute minimum effort because the person who crashed into me totaled their car. Conversely, I’ve been harassed & intimidated by police semi-regularly throughout my life -just because they were bored & feeling the need to bully. The only time I met a nice officer was when my mom was dating him when I was a kid. Thus to me, the vast majority of cops are lazy/incompetent and the rest are bullies.
  • Im 60 and every interaction I’ve had with Police has been a difficult one throughout my life. Ive always been treated like a criminal every time… Trying to acuse me of things i haven’t done or downright lying to me for no reasons at at. No benefit to anyone, just an excuse to stand over and intimidate me because im an ugly man…if i was a blonde woman with a lovely face it would be completely different.
  • It’s never “one or two bad apples”. Corrupt and outright evil policing either starts at the top, or is stopped from there.
  • Cops never say the full text: A few bad apples “spoil the whole barrel”.
  • The cameras just changes the games. Without a camera this guy will be on jail.
  • 13:21 “How do I file the complaint if I can’t get into the building?” Damn that’s helllla funny
  • “I’m a police officer. I asked you for your ID. I need you to give me your ID.” The correct response is: “I’m a citizen. I haven’t done anything wrong. I need you to kick rocks.”
  • The shame of it is the city attorney said they acted appropriately. The chief and locals also say they acted appropriately. The locals are probably terrified to do anything because they’ll be arrested
    • Pooler is just out side of Savannah where I lived for over 20 years and everyone knows that the Pooler police will write tickets for the most minor and insignificant infractions. For example, there was a women giving a ticket for driving while distracted because while she sat at a red light she took one hand off the steering wheel to take a bite of a sandwich.
    • So the City attorney agreed that it was proper for the Sgt. to demand ID with no RAS, that it was legal to trespass him out of the parking lot, that it was proper to restrict his access to city services because he was recording, that he was required to identify himself in a public complaint, that it was proper for the Sgt. to accept the complaint on his superior officer? Are you sure he was really an attorney or maybe he just plays one on TV? I guess he will have a second crack at these question in court. As Mr. T would say, “I pity the fool.”
  • They have been doing this for so long and getting away with it.
  • I’m Black, so if l went in there, l probably wouldn’t be able to leave for about 15 to years…..
  • Imagine how they treat the prisoners
  • I like how men with guns and tasers always say someone’s making them feel uncomfortable 😂😂
  • Officers took an oath to uphold their State and Federal Constitutions, which means affirming the constitutionally protected rights of US citizens. The law-abiding citizen has no obligation to provide ID under such circumstances, it is the police who have to jump over the legal hurdles such as reasonable suspicion and probable cause to detain, ask for ID, or arrest. I developed training on this for officers as far back as 2014, even then officers did not like the idea of having limited power in such situations. Ego maybe? Unfortunately, more training and regular training are needed nationwide in this area, which would save a lot of grief, embarrassment, and tax dollars. This was an unnecessary power struggle between the officers, the Chief, and the filmer. Regardless of the filmer’s true intentions, his rights should be affirmed. The fact that the police are called, that someone doesn’t like the filmer lawfully being there, doesn’t override the filmer’s constitutional rights. Once the filmer’s lawful status is determined, they should be free to carry on, without interference.
  • I can only imagine what these small town cops do to people . That is a real bad State a Canadian woman was arrested her car towed and she was put in jail. The small town cop who didn’t know that Canadians are allowed to drive in the USA with there Canadian drivers license just like Americans are allowed to drive in Canada with there US license
  • Q: Are your a detective, or a sergeant? A: I’m just an employee, man. An employee who is fronting with a badge on his hip, and previously gave his badge number … “just an employees” don’t have badges. Dude was definitely a detective, and lied … though, ironically, it’s legal for the police to lie.
  • the “employee” with the beard and glasses is just as guilty as the sergeant and the chief by his omission to act. he witnessed the behaviour of the sergeant and the chief and was complicit in their actions. he probably knows that the chief and the sergeant are a pair of idiots and thought no way am i getting involved with this. he`s the type of guy that disappears in a bar room brawl.
  • I understand why and what you are doing and strongly believe doing so is an important audit of public employees. If you want to report on this unconstitutional behavior it is my opinion it would be much better done without the descriptive editorializing (“tyrant, Bully, making fun of someone’s name) which reduces the effectiveness of the reporting and appears childish. This audit work is important yet diminished in it’s reporting by this.

If a person is not smart enough to bring water with them to vote, are they smart enough for voting?

I live in Roswell, Georgia, 20 minutes north of Atlanta. I walked in and immediately was able to vote in the general election, and was behind one person when I voted in the Senate runoff in January. Roswell is 74% white and 11% black with a population of about 90,000.

Union City, Georgia is in Fulton County along with Roswell (and most of Atlanta). Union City is 81% black, 8.6% white and has a population of just over 20,000. Here is a photo of the polling location for Union City in the general election last year.

To answer your question, perhaps those in the photo above didn’t expect to have to wait because they thought (foolishly I know) that their polling location would be similar to my own.

After all, they’re in the same county. But in the same county of a state wherein the average wait in the last hour of polling in majority-minority zones is 51 minutes, while that wait in majority-white zones is 6 minutes. But Republican lawmakers in Georgia are just “shocked” at people saying their election reforms smell just a bit like Jim Crowe.

My ass. They know exactly what they’re doing.

Line to vote in the primaries, June 2020. Source.

Republican “election advisors” have been managing to get polling locations closed to “save money” in black neighborhoods for years. Those locations that managed to stay open complained to the Republican Secretary of State’s Office that they had defective or non working voting machines that needed to be replaced and received … nothing, further exacerbating wait times in polling locations that just happen to be predominately Democrat.

So why on Earth is a single person surprised when, after the state elects two Democratic Senator and a Democratic President despite all of the crap I just described, the Republican controlled State Legislature passes voting reforms that will cost the state $50 million dollars and give the Republican controlled state legislature the power to unilaterally determine a county’s election board isn’t performing adequately and take over control themselves, allow anyone in the state to contest election results if they feel like they saw fraud occurring at a polling location (keep in mind a rural outpost of this state elected Marjorie Green To Congress), and overall made it just a little more difficult and/or uncomfortable for people to vote in a manner that disproportionately affects black voters.

So it isn’t an issue of whether one is smart enough to vote. And it isn’t an issue of providing water. And it isn’t even an issue of ID, because on the list of complaints regarding voting in Georgia ID restrictions are WAY down the list. But when it’s just one thing after another to make it a little more difficult for blacks to vote over time it adds up. And collectively it’s leads to quite reasonable accusations of racism against the state assembly, corporations distancing themselves from state Republican lawmakers, and questions like this, which (to me) is implying minority voters should have to bring water with them to vote.

When I had to wait about 30 seconds.

America’s Authoritarian Governor

Georgia had an early surge of the virus, and now cases are spiking again. Brian Kemp has refused to learn a thing.

America has botched its coronavirus response in so, so many ways since the pandemic began. Even in a country that stands apart from the world for its horrific failures, there have been as many leadership bungles as there are states: Some failed to heed early warnings. Others refused to learn the lessons of outbreaks that came before theirs. Still others played politics instead of following science. And then there’s Georgia.

Georgia’s response to the pandemic has not been going well. It was bad from the beginning: Back in early April, weeks after other states took initial precautions, Georgia dawdled toward a shutdown while its coronavirus cases surged. Still, less than a month later, the state chose to be among the first in the nation to reopen, bringing back businesses known to accelerate the virus’s spread, such as restaurants and gyms, even though new infections had never made a significant or sustained decline. In June, the state welcomed back bars. What happened next was predictable, and was predicted: Case counts came roaring back. More people got sick and died. Many of these deaths were preventable. The state now has the sixth-highest number of coronavirus cases in the United States, behind five states with significantly larger populations.

Lots of states—such as FloridaCalifornia, and New York—have mishandled the pandemic since it hit in March. But when you look closely at Georgia, you see a state with a leader unique among his peers. First-term Republican Governor Brian Kemp presided over a late shutdown so short that his reopening drew a public rebuke from President Donald Trump, who has frequently opposed shutdowns altogether. Kemp’s administration has repeatedly been accused of manipulating data to downplay the severity of the outbreak. He has sparred publicly with the state’s mayors and sued to stop them from implementing safety restrictions or even speaking to the press.

To understand the course that Georgia has plotted through the pandemic, you have to understand Kemp’s failures. Those same failures, and the trajectory of the state governed by them, also represent a microcosm of America under Trump. The governor has demonstrated a willingness to defer to the president instead of his own constituents, sacrifice Georgians’ safety to snipe at his political foes, and shore up his own power at the expense of democracy. In short, Kemp is a wannabe authoritarian, and millions of Georgians have suffered as a result, with no end in sight

trajectory of the state governed by them, also represent a microcosm of America under Trump. The governor has demonstrated a willingness to defer to the president instead of his own constituents, sacrifice Georgians’ safety to snipe at his political foes, and shore up his own power at the expense of democracy. In short, Kemp is a wannabe authoritarian, and millions of Georgians have suffered as a result, with no end in sight.

Kemp has emulated strongmen since he entered state government. In 2018, as Georgia’s secretary of state, Kemp administered his own election by a thin, contested margin, despite calls to resign the office before running for governor. In his previous role, Kemp systematically purged more than 1 million voters from the state’s rolls, disproportionately disenfranchising Georgians of color. More than half a million of those voter registrations were voided in July 2017 alone, months into Kemp’s campaign for governor. Kemp’s office did not respond to a request for an interview, but in the past, he has repeatedly denied that these actions amounted to voter suppression.

In Georgia, and around the world, it has become clear that a novel virus doesn’t respond to the anti-scientific, expertise-shirking preferences of modern authoritarianism. When Kemp announced the closure of the state’s nonessential businesses on April 2, he said it was because he had learned something game-changing about the virus: that it is transmissible before an infected person develops symptoms. In reality, that had been a widely accepted belief for weeks, one that had helped encourage earlier lockdowns around the country. And unlike other states that were slow to shut down, Georgia already had a raging outbreak of nearly 5,000 identified cases. In southwest Georgia in late February, a funeral in the small, majority-Black town of Albany set off a chain of infection that sickened hundreds of people and left the local hospital system overburdened and overpaying for low-quality protective gear.

If a slow shutdown had been Kemp’s only major fumble, he’d be in broad and ideologically varied company both nationally and internationally. Instead, he has continued to double down on the state’s approach to the virus in ways that mirror not just Trump, but authoritarian leaders overseeing poorly controlled outbreaks all over the world, such as Brazil’s Jair Bolsonaro and India’s Narendra Modi. He has also taken a more hard-line stance than most of his Republican peers. GOP governors in Alabama, Mississippi, and Texas have implemented statewide mask rules in response to worsening outbreaks, and others who haven’t, such as Ron DeSantis in Florida and Doug Ducey in Arizona, have still allowed cities and counties to enforce their own local requirements. Not only has Kemp repeatedly refused to require masks in Georgia, but the state’s current pandemic emergency order was written with an explicit restriction to prevent local leaders from implementing their own mask rules.

Kemp’s administration has gone so far as to sue Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms over the city’s mask mandate and its plan to roll back the city’s reopening to its earliest stage, closing bars and restricting restaurants to takeout. When Bottoms fought the lawsuit, Kemp sought to stop her from speaking to the press. Other cities in the state, such as Savannah and Athens, also passed their own mandates but escaped inclusion in the lawsuit, which has pushed some to question whether the governor was trying to punish Bottoms for her support of Joe Biden. A Kemp spokesperson told The Washington Post that the lawsuit was primarily about the new restrictions on businesses in Bottoms’s order, which weren’t present in other municipalities’ mask mandates, but as the paper pointed out, masks were listed as the first issue in the complaint. “One has to ask about the political aspect of a conservative southern governor and a strong supporter of the president having a very public legal action against the Atlanta mayor, who’s been a vocal supporter of Joe Biden,” Harry Heiman, a professor at the Georgia State University School of Public Health, told me. Kemp backed down from the lawsuit last week, and Atlanta’s local mandate remains in effect.

None of Kemp’s actions has been popular among the state’s residents. According to findings released last week by the Atlanta-based market-research platform 1Q, 73 percent of Georgians surveyed believe that cities should be able to enforce their own mask mandates, and 70 percent disagree with Kemp’s refusal to institute a mandate statewide. In recent months, his overall approval rating has taken a hit. In May, Kemp was the only governor whose coronavirus response was less popular than the president’s among his own constituents. A recent poll pegged Kemp’s approval rating at 43 percent, down from more than 59 percent in January.

Kemp, like Trump, has recently started to encourage mask usage while still aggressively opposing any kind of enforceable mask rule. The problem with that approach, according to public-health experts, is that it sows confusion, making it more difficult for people to feel confident in their safety. The state’s own messaging has at times been misleading in other ways. On its Department of Public Health website, the state spent months backdating cases to a patient’s first symptoms, which meant that the most recent two weeks of the graph always looked as if the pandemic was in marked decline. The state has also released misleading graphics that it later insisted were honest errors in data rendering, such as a bar graph of case counts with the dates out of chronological order, again depicting a nonexistent downward slope.

In mid-July, two nearly identical maps of Georgia’s coronavirus outbreak began circulating on Twitter, depicting the state’s outbreaks on July 2 and July 17, over which time cases increased significantly. Both maps show only three of the state’s 159 counties shaded in red, marking the most dire spread of the disease. As case counts exploded, the state had raised the number of cases required for a county to change color. Once local media took notice, the state redesigned its map. The public health department’s website also now allows users to sort new coronavirus cases by date of diagnosis, the method used almost exclusively in other government and media visualizations of the pandemic.

Then there is the matter of reopening schools. The state’s accelerated reopening spiked cases just in time for the South’s typically early school calendar to begin, leaving educators, parents, and students to fend for themselves as Kemp urges the resumption of in-person instruction in order to protect kids from non-coronavirus threats such as malnutrition and abuse. But if Kemp’s concerns lie with the safety of the state’s children and the importance of getting them back in the classroom, why didn’t he do more to stop the spread of the virus? Why, instead, did he prioritize sending low-wage workers back to their jobs in bars, restaurants, nail salons, and gyms?

Some of Georgia’s school districts opened this week, and already the system is buckling under the weight of infection: Yesterday, we learned that the state’s outbreak had claimed its youngest victim yet, an otherwise healthy 7-year-old boy. One Cherokee County elementary-school class has already had to be quarantined after a second grader received a positive test result on the first day of school. Earlier this week, a photo from inside North Paulding High School in exurban Atlanta showed a crowded hallway with few teenagers wearing masks. An outbreak has already sickened members of the school’s football team, and students say they fear expulsion if they don’t show up. Two students were suspended for distributing photos of the school’s lax safety measures; at least one of those students has been reinstated following a public outcry over her right to free speech.

Georgia’s public universities, which are preparing for students to come back over the next couple of weeks, provide a bleak view of how the state is managing the dangers that a return to regular life presents for Georgians. For much of this summer, the University System of Georgia refused pleas from faculty and staff to require students to wear masks to class, or to allow individual colleges to make their own mask rules, before eventually relenting and requiring masks. At the University of Georgia, freshmen will still be required to live in cramped on-campus housing, much of which assigns two students to one privacy-free room, even if their classes are remote. For students who attend instruction in person, photos have begun to circulate on social media of the safety measures that await them: a small plexiglass divider loosely affixed to the front of a teacher’s classroom desk, or every other urinal in a public bathroom marked off with painter’s tape. With the majority of students yet to return, UGA already has the third-largest campus outbreak in the country, and Athens, the town where the school is located, ran out of intensive-care beds last week.

Despite all his mistakes, it’s not too late for Kemp to wrangle the pandemic, said Heiman, the Georgia State professor. He told me that a statewide mask mandate; closing bars, gyms, and indoor dining; and clear, consistent messaging from state leadership about pandemic safety can work quickly to limit transmission of the virus, just as such measures have in New York, following that state’s catastrophic outbreak. Once transmission is low, more businesses can be safely reopened, testing supplies and personal protective equipment can be stockpiled, school buildings can be altered for better ventilation, and life can return to something closer to normalcy while Georgians wait for treatments and vaccines to come along.

In order to do that, though, Kemp would have to do something authoritarians hate: admit he was wrong, and change his mind based on evidence, the advice of experts, and the will of the people. The same is true for the country as a whole. America is a few decisions away from a much different future.

Instead, like the authoritarian he’s shown himself to be, Kemp seems intent on maintaining the disastrous course his administration has plotted so far, at the expense of the people of Georgia. “It’s truly unbelievable,” Heiman said. “It will be a case study for decades to come of what an utter collapse of political and public-health leadership looks like.”

The Cynicism of Georgia’s Stacey Abrams

Ms. Abrams has claimed that Mr. Kemp unlawfully purged 1.5 million voters from the rolls, put 53,000 new registrations on hold, created long polling lines on Election Day, and misplaced provisional ballots. She says her “accusations are based entirely on evidence.” Let’s take a look.

.. The 1993 National Voter Registration Act, passed by a Democratic Congress and signed by President Clinton, requires states to keep voter lists “accurate and current” by identifying persons who died or moved, using “uniform, nondiscriminatory” procedures.
.. Georgia’s law to comply with the federal act is similar to Ohio’s, which the U.S. Supreme Court upheld this year. It works like this: If the U.S. Postal Service’s change-of-address list shows a Georgia voter has moved or is no longer at his address of record, the state sends him a postage-paid confirmation reply card. It there’s no response for 30 days, the voter is considered “inactive,” but can still vote if he wants.
.. Then there’s the charge of holding up registration applications. This involves the state’s “exact match” law, which requires the last name, first initial, date of birth and other simple information on voter-registration applications match the information in the Social Security database or the Georgia driver’s-license file. If they don’t match, the prospective voter is notified online and by mail, and given 26 months to correct any discrepancy.
.. Meanwhile, he can vote by presenting a valid ID that is “a substantial match” with his application. The 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals recently upheld a similar law in Florida.
.. Ms. Abrams herself may be responsible for many of the botched voter applications. Before running for governor, she led a $12.5 million registration drive that paid her $442,000 over three years for serving as its part-time leader. Despite ample resources, Ms. Abrams’s efforts relied on paper forms, not online registration or electronic forms. As a result, many applications contained mistakes or fraudulent signatures.
.. Ms. Abrams’s complaints about long lines at polling places and mishandled provisional ballots are also misplaced. County election boards, not the secretary of state, decide on poll closures, set the number of voting machines, and handle provisional ballots. These local officials are in many cases Democrats, and Ms. Abrams carried the three Atlanta-area counties—Fulton, Cobb and DeKalb—with the most closures, the largest numbers of machines withdrawn from service, and the bulk of provisional-ballot problems.
.. As a rising star on the Democratic left, Ms. Abrams drew millions in donations from the Soros family and billionaire hedge-funder Tom Steyer, as well as campaign appearances by Oprah Winfrey, Barack Obama and many of the party’s 2020 presidential hopefuls. She lost anyway.
.. Ms. Abrams now cynically claims she’s a victim of election fraud motivated by bigotry. Even in this ugly period of American politics, trying to use defeat in a close election to create racial resentment stands out as dangerous and corrosive. Ms. Abrams’s suit, Fair Fight Action v. Crittenden, is unlikely to have a happy ending. And damaging the state’s reputation won’t help her win future races, no matter how much she says she loves Georgia and wants to serve it. Sometimes you should exit gracefully.

The G.O.P. Goes Full Authoritarian

Only Trump’s flamboyant awfulness stands in the way of his party’s power grab.

Donald Trump, it turns out, may have been the best thing that could have happened to American democracy.

No, I haven’t lost my mind. Individual-1 is clearly a wannabe dictator who has contempt for the rule of law, not to mention being corrupt and probably in the pocket of foreign powers. But he’s also lazy, undisciplined, self-absorbed and inept. And since the threat to democracy is much broader and deeper than one man, we’re actually fortunate that the forces menacing America have such a ludicrous person as their public face.

.. If you want to understand what’s happening to our country, the book you really need to read is “How Democracies Die,” by Steven Levitsky and Daniel Ziblatt. As the authors — professors of government at Harvard — point out, in recent decades a number of nominally democratic nations have become de facto authoritarian, one-party states. Yet none of them have had classic military coups, with tanks in the street.

.. What we’ve seen instead are coups of a subtler form:

  • takeovers or intimidation of the news media,
  • rigged elections that disenfranchise opposing voters,
  • new rules of the game that give the ruling party overwhelming control even if it loses the popular vote,
  • corrupted courts.

.. The classic example is Hungary, where Fidesz, the white nationalist governing party, has effectively

  • taken over the bulk of the media;
  • destroyed the independence of the judiciary;
  • rigged voting to enfranchise supporters and disenfranchise opponents; 
  • gerrymandered electoral districts in its favor; and
  • altered the rules so that a minority in the popular vote translates into a supermajority in the legislature.

Does a lot of this sound familiar? It should. You see, Republicans have been adopting similar tactics — not at the federal level (yet), but in states they control.

.. the states, which Justice Louis Brandeis famously pronounced the laboratories of democracy, “are in danger of becoming laboratories of authoritarianism as those in power rewrite electoral rules, redraw constituencies and even rescind voting rights to ensure that they do not lose.”

.. Thus, voter purges and deliberate restriction of minority access to the polls have become standard practice in much of America. Would Brian Kemp, the governor-elect of Georgia — who oversaw his own election as secretary of state — have won without these tactics? Almost certainly not.

.. you get a lot less reassured if you look at what happened at the state level, where votes often weren’t reflected in terms of control of state legislatures.

Let’s talk, in particular, about what’s happening in Wisconsin.

.. Having lost every statewide office in Wisconsin last month, Republicans are using the lame-duck legislative session to drastically curtail these offices’ power, effectively keeping rule over the state in the hands of the G.O.P.-controlled Legislature.

.. What has gotten less emphasis is the fact that G.O.P. legislative control is also undemocratic. Last month Democratic candidates received 54 percent of the votes in State Assembly elections — but they ended up with only 37 percent of the seats.

.. In other words, Wisconsin is turning into Hungary on the Great Lakes, a state that may hold elections, but where elections don’t matter, because the ruling party retains control no matter what voters do.

.. As far as I can tell, not a single prominent Republican in Washington has condemned

  • the power grab in Wisconsin,
  • the similar grab in Michigan, or even
  • what looks like outright electoral fraud in North Carolina.

.. Elected Republicans don’t just increasingly share the values of white nationalist parties like Fidesz or Poland’s Law and Justice; they also share those parties’ contempt for democracy. The G.O.P. is an authoritarian party in waiting.

.. Which is why we should be grateful for Trump. If he weren’t so flamboyantly awful, Democrats might have won the House popular vote by only 4 or 5 points, not 8.6 points.

.. And in that case, Republicans might have maintained control — and we’d be well along the path to permanent one-party rule.

Instead, we’re heading for a period of divided government, in which the opposition party has both the power to block legislation and, perhaps even more important, the ability to conduct investigations backed by subpoena power into Trump administration malfeasance.

.. But this may be no more than a respite. For whatever may happen to Donald Trump, his party has turned its back on democracy. And that should terrify you.

.. The fact is that the G.O.P., as currently constituted, is willing to do whatever it takes to seize and hold power. And as long as that remains true, and Republicans remain politically competitive, we will be one election away from losing democracy in America.

Last Exit Off the Road to Autocracy

Taxes and health care aren’t the only things on the ballot.

It’s a near-certainty that Democrats will receive more votes than Republicans, with polling suggesting a margin in votes cast for the House of Representatives of seven or more percentage points — which would make it the biggest landslide of modern times. However, gerrymandering and other factors have severely tilted the playing field, so that even this might not be enough to bring control of the chamber.

.. In fact, it’s not hyperbole to say that if the G.O.P. holds the line on Tuesday, it may be the last even halfway fair elections we’ll ever have.

.. Look at what’s happening in Georgia, where Brian Kemp — the Republican secretary of state, who oversees elections — is running for governor against Democrat Stacey Abrams. In any other democracy, letting a man supervise his own election would be inconceivable. But that’s how it is in Georgia, and Kemp is abusing his power to the max.

.. In recent years Kemp has purged millions of names from Georgia’s voting rolls, on dubious grounds. Finding himself in a close race despite these efforts, he tried to purge even more based on criteria so spurious that the courts have — for now — blocked his efforts. So over the weekend Kemp’s office issued a warning, with no evidence or specifics, that Democrats may have tried to hack the voter registration site.

A political party with any kind of commitment to democracy and fair play would treat Kemp as a pariah. Instead, he has the full support of the national G.O.P.

.. And Georgia is far from unique. There have been similar if less spectacular attempts to rig the vote in Kansas and North Dakota, where would-be absentee voters were told that they had to use the right color ink— and were given conflicting information about what color was acceptable.

.. The lesson we learn from all these abuses of power is that today’s Republicans are just like their fellow white nationalists in Hungary and Poland, who have maintained a democratic facade but have in reality established one-party authoritarian regimes.

.. Oh, and in case you’re tempted to bothsides this: No, both sides don’t do it. Voting restrictions are almost entirely a Republican thing. As always, Democrats aren’t saints, but they appear to believe in democracy, while their opponents don’t.

.. the media said it anyway), while tending to dismiss talk about Republican abuse of power as hysterical.