Kanye West has moved into a sports stadium in Atlanta while he finishes his next album

"DONDA By Kanye West" Listening Event At Mercedes Benz Stadium In Atlanta, GA
“DONDA By Kanye West” Listening Event At Mercedes Benz Stadium In Atlanta, GA

  • Kanye West has ditched his mansion to live inside Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta.
  • A listening party reportedly inspired Kanye to remain there until his new album “Donda” is complete.
  • A stadium spokesperson told Insider “we’ve been able to accommodate his needs while he’s with us.”
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

Kanye West has moved into the Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta, a stadium spokesperson confirmed with Insider on Monday.

Last week, a crowd of 42,000 people filled the stadium to hear select songs from West’s new album “Donda” at the rapper’s listening party. Millions of listeners tuned into Apple Music’s exclusive live stream of the event.

West was reportedly so inspired by the crowd that he never left, TMZ first reported – and he plans on staying there until the album is completed.

Donda, named after the artists’ mother Donda West, was originally set to be released on July 23. A representative told Pitchfork on Monday that the new release date has been officially pushed to August 6.

On Saturday, fans spotted Kanye still dressed in his performance get-up at the Atlanta United soccer game. TMZ said that West and his team have created a living area and studio inside the stadium where a personal chef is available to prepare meals.

“We’ve been able to accommodate his needs while he’s with us,” a stadium spokesperson told Insider.

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12 of the best affordable Airbnbs in Atlanta, all starting under $160 per night

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Best Airbnbs in Atlanta

  • Lively outdoor dining, entertainment, and activities make Atlanta an attractive place to visit.
  • Nature enthusiasts will also find rivers, trails, and parks to explore in the “City in a Forest.”
  • We’ve chosen well-located Airbnbs in the city and just beyond, ranging from $75 to $157 a night.

As travel picks up, the historically busiest airport in all of America, as well as Atlanta’s famous nightlife, are getting back into full swing. There’s no mistaking that the vibrant capital of Georgia is still hot, and heating up even further alongside the weather.

As a longtime Atlanta resident, I know first-hand just how much the city has to offer. The Big A’s gorgeous climate means mild, short winters and lots of sunshine, which gives it a longer season for outdoor dining and activities.

Miles of green space, like city parks, playgrounds, raw and paved trails like the BeltLine and Silver Comet, and the wide, chill- or thrilled-filled (depending on your chosen activity) Chattahoochee River ensure you don’t forget that this bustling destination is also known as “The City in the Forest.” Not to mention the architectural gems that take visitors on a time-traveling tour of design and innovation, despite the city’s infamous torching amidst the Civil War.

So if you’re ready to see why so many Fortune 500 companies, studios, and startups are being drawn to the dazzle of the “Hollywood of the South” and want to explore why it’s become the fourth fastest-growing region in America, we have you covered on where to stay.

Here are the best Airbnbs in Atlanta, sorted by price from low to high.

Private guesthouse near historic Marietta Square

Private guesthouse near historic Marietta Square

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Like a stay at grandma’s house, this guesthouse feels homey, comfortable, and familiar, with simple but fun accents from the yellow bed quilt and floral ottoman to the antique pinball machine in the living area. The home also has a private patio that overlooks the main house, which was built during WWII for the nearby Lockheed airplane factory — a great example of working-class housing during that time. 

Be aware that this guesthouse is located on the same property as the host’s main home, but it is entirely separate and has its own private entrance. The grassy lawn provides a nice area to play or enjoy a picnic, and an extra Twin rollaway bed makes this a nice option for small families.

Located just six blocks from Marietta Square, which you might recognize from “Dumb and Dumber To” and the upcoming Aretha Franklin documentary, “Genius: Aretha,” this area less than half an hour from Midtown Atlanta is rife with charm. Its picturesque square is surrounded by trendy and traditional eateries, shops, and even breweries, and offers events both big and small, such as Taste of Marietta and Tuesday night bluegrass.

On the other side of the square, by the Marietta Museum of History, is the Marietta Square Market, an urban-style food hall with some of the best affordable, casual dining in Atlanta. Its parking lot turns into a bustling farmer’s market on weekends that’s ideal for grabbing some snacks before or after a self-led tour of the many uniquely designed historic homes that line nearby Cherokee, Whitlock, and Church Streets.

Vinings loft with air hockey table near Truist Park

Vinings loft with air hockey table

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Just across the ‘Hootch from the Paces division in upscale Buckhead, this unique neighborhood is among the city’s most desired. It’s here that the walkable Vinings Jubilee shopping center is located, with specialty stores and restaurants inlaid in a village-like design. This area is home to the historic Old Vinings Inn and the iconic Canoe restaurant, as well as residential neighborhoods with homes set to stun. Closer still is Truist Park, where the Braves and local residents play, and Cumberland Mall, the first four-anchor mall built in Georgia. 

Vinings also puts you right at the foot of some great trails along the river, but staying at this loft, you needn’t go too far to get your workout in. Located within a development, there’s a walking trail right on property, along with shared tennis courts, and a resort-style pool. Not to mention the fitness center and on-site studio great for yoga, spin, pilates, or barre workouts. 

This listing boasts steel cable-strung stairs that lead to a roomy loft bedroom, with sunlight streaming in from a row of windows at the base of the dramatically high ceilings. Below, you’ll find a blue velvet couch, a four-person dining table, and a full kitchen with granite countertops. There’s even an air hockey table for those who want a little friendly competition.

For the best outdoor views, head to the patio around the lake in the complex. There, bistro tables give guests a spot to take a deep breath and enjoy some sunshine. 

Urban chic condo in Atlantic Station

Modern Atlantic Station Apartment

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The trendy Atlantic Station neighborhood is perhaps one of the best examples of what it means to live/work/play, all in one luxurious and well-appointed bubble. On the west side of the city, this strategically developed area was built to house 50 shops, a Central Park with live outdoor shows, BODIES The Exhibition, and a movie theatre in a streetscape-like setting. And when the temperatures drop, there’s outdoor ice skating during the short winter season, which ends around mid-February.

Close to Atlantic Station’s big-brand stores, sidewalk cafes, and boutique hotel is this lovely apartment with a modern-eclectic energy thanks to a dynamic mix of patterns and materials, from a green velvet couch to a zebra rug. The balcony offers views of a resort-style saltwater pool that’s enchantingly lit up at night in soothing aqua blues. By day, this pool area is a prime spot to luxuriate under a warm Georgian sun, giving the rooftop with its city views some stiff competition for vacation-luxury vibes. 

This bird’s eye view puts into context just how close this location is to some of Atlanta’s biggest attractions, like the High Art Museum and Tony Award-winning Alliance Theatre. It’s due north of the Mercedes-Benz Stadium — home of the Falcons — and State Farm Arena, and due south of Buckhead, just on the other side of the highway from buzzy Midtown.

Luxurious all-glass apartment in Midtown

Highrise Luxury Midtown All Glass Huge Balcony HM

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This stunning space in Midtown is everything city-lovers imagine in an upscale urban high-rise, including its prime location. Eye-level with the skyline, you can plan your day just by looking down and out and pointing where next to explore. Floor-to-ceiling windows make up the walls of the bedroom, spacious living room, and even the marble kitchen — a massive benefit of a corner unit. 

Another perk is the large wraparound balcony that boasts it is “large enough for a morning workout.” But if you need more space than that, there’s an all-glass-view gym in the building too, complete with a workout studio, plus a heated outdoor pool and working spaces, just in case you play too hard and feel like you ought to make up for it.

After all, in this location, it’s not difficult to have too much fun. Midtown, the “heart of the arts,” is where all the city’s action really is. Public transportation via the MARTA is more accessible here than almost anywhere else in the city, but if you’re driving in and taking advantage of the included secure parking of this home, everywhere you might want to visit is only minutes away.

Over 150 restaurants, clubs, and bars are scattered throughout this neighborhood, and Piedmont Park and the BeltLine are only steps away from this high-rise. Follow that paved trail to find tiny doors and the Ponce City Market, the city’s largest adaptive reuse project with shops and an incredible food hall of chef-led innovation.

Posh apartment in Buckhead

Illustrious Buckhead Apt w King Bed 5Min frm Lenox

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Buckhead is a posh address shared by the Governor, and this one-bedroom apartment puts you right in the center of it. It’s only a few walkable blocks to Lenox Square, a premium shopping mall with 250 stores spread across nearly 1.6 million square feet. As if that weren’t enough, Phipps Plaza is also only steps away, impressive with its mahogany walls, marble floors, chandeliers, and grand staircase.

But Buckhead isn’t just primed for commerce — it’s good for art and action, too. Around Miami Circle and Bennet Street are clusters of independent art galleries, and the young, affluent professionals that live in this neighborhood frequent the bars, clubs, and chic restaurants along Peachtree and Roswell Roads.

You can prep for a glamorous night out in this light, bright, and spacious apartment, channeling the elegant decor of the apartment. In the bedroom, an upholstered bed is furnished with a memory foam mattress under a trey ceiling, and a minibar stocked with small bottles of liquor and wine offers a pre-gaming amenity. The spacious living area is decked out in a soothing cream and blue color palette, and the modern kitchen includes all-white cabinetry, stainless steel appliances, and grey tiling.

During the day, take advantage of the on-site gym and the rooftop pool. The latter overlooks the city skyline, magical any time. Garage parking for one means you can linger as you like. 

Backyard treehouse-style cabin

Treehouse at Pine Meadows

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For anybody who ever wanted a tree house as a child and now wants style and character as an adult, this novel rental is just the ticket. Half an hour out from Midtown Atlanta in the suburb of Kennesaw, near the mountain, battlefield, and university of that same name, is this charmer with its own private driveway. Once parked, follow the outdoor string lights to find a handcrafted staircase the leads to a vintage front door. 

The exterior is all rough, raw wood, but the inside is a quintessential example of the rustic-chic farmhouse aestehtic. Tall ceilings soar up to a high peak over a stained glass window, while additional floor-to-ceiling windows lend light and airiness to the space. Hardwood flooring, stunningly distressed, contrasts with clean-whitewashed wood plank walls, and a country chandelier hanging over the bed. Antique-style accents like a reading chair, handmade bench, and 100-year-old cabinet are offset by modern amenities like an electric fireplace, heating, air conditioning, and Wi-Fi. 

Outside are two rocking chairs, set on a porch that overlooks a backyard meadow. Steps from there is a surprisingly nice outhouse with a composting toilet and a sink powered by a manual water dispenser. Guests staying for two or more nights get use of a basement shower just 30 steps away.

Creekside studio with an indoor spa

Private Marsh Creek escape indoor spa

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The Chattahoochee Plantation neighborhood is unique not just for its architecturally diverse mega-mansions and its many entrances to the nature preserves along the banks of the Chattahoochee River, but also for its stubborn history. For years, this tiny, ten-foot by seven-mile city was the only thing standing between the city of Atlanta creeping into the boundaries of Cobb County just north of Sandy Springs.

This studio is on the Atlanta side of the river to its obstinate neighbors on gawp-able Paper Mill Road, Columns Drive, and Atlanta Country Club Drive, but gives you plenty to go ga-ga over right on the grounds. Attached to a huge contemporary home overlooking a scenic wooded creek, it has its own private entrance. Just inside, you’ll find an absolutely spectacular indoor pool and hot tub. 

Under soaring ceilings held up with exposed beams are walls of windows and a posh seating area with cabana curtains for privacy, creating an experience not unlike an oversized hydrotherapy room in an upscale resort spa. From there, a back deck and outdoor grill are at guest disposal to better enjoy Marsh Creek views. 

Modern tiny home in Old Fourth Ward

Modern Nordic Tiny Home w Queen in Heart of ATL

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The Old Fourth Ward, affectionately abbreviated to O4W, is one of central Atlanta’s most happening neighborhoods. Just east of Downtown and south of Midtown, it’s now an intriguing combination of new, trendy developments and design right alongside historic sites like Martin Luther King, Jr.’s home. Atlantans love this neighborhood for its miles-long, paved, and elevated BeltLine Trail and the myriad of attractions sprung up around it, like the amazing Ponce City Market.

A block away is where you’ll find this upscale Nordic-style tiny home, whose minimalistic style and plush fur-trimmed accent decor create a sense of Scandinavian simplicity and peace. Every precious inch of this space is used well and Instagram-ready, from the Brazilian hardwood shower that recalls a spa sauna to a lofted bed with skylight window to the small desk that overlooks a rock creek right outside. Also outside is a 125-year-old American sycamore tree in the private yard, and a fenced space that offers a smokeless fire pit and two lounge chairs facing the tiny home’s little patio. 

You’ll be walking distance to trails, shops, and restaurants, but should you want to stay in, there’s a UHD Smart TV that’s Netflix-ready, and a kitchenette that comes complete with an induction cooktop, microwave, and a retro-style fridge.

Loft in Virginia Highlands

Brand New Guest House   VaHi Midtown   1 BDRM+Loft

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Just east of Midtown, Virginia Highlands has been recognized by “Southern Living” as the fourth best neighborhood in all the South — and it’s no wonder. Its tree-lined streets shade beautiful homes and over 75 restaurants, shops, and bars, including Atlanta’s oldest continually licensed tavern, Atkins Park. It’s host to Summerfest in the (you guessed it!) summer and Tour of Homes for looky-loos in the winter; and puts you within steps of the BeltLine, Piedmont Park, and Atlanta’s Botanical Garden.

Homes here are traditionally the beautiful bungalow-style of the ’20s and ’30s, with high ceilings in the pre-war build. This brand-new loft guesthouse is right off the main strip.

Arrive to a gorgeous Craftsman-style entrance with a rose-strewn portico at the entrance, just off the parking area that’s overhung by the loft’s balcony. Once inside, you’ll be hard-pressed to decide which of the two bedrooms you’d rather have: the ground level one with French doors, plantation shutters, and an outside entrance, or the novelty of the loft suspended over the living space and bounded by steel cables. A soothing palette of blues, creams, and natural woods dominates the aesthetic, creating a cool contrast to the rich brick and brown of the exterior. 

High-rise, hotel-style living near Edgewood

Stunning City Getaway   In The Heart Of Atlanta

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Right on the border of quirky, accessible Edgewood and just south of Inman Park and bohemian Little Five Points, this hotel-style resort apartment is at the crossroads of artsy and independent city culture. 

The creative vibe of its location makes it into the decor of a gorgeous common area lounge. It’s stylish and posh, and sexy besides, with splashes of deep reds, rich purples, and bright oranges. The expansive common area also has an oversized shared worktable space with pop-up plugs to keep your gear fully juiced, and a wet bar, dining tables, and TVs to channel more of that city-life workspace feeling. A spiffy gym, also decked out in bold colors, is yours to enjoy during your stay. The apartment has a full modern kitchen, but this close to the Krog Street Market, a world-class and famous food hall, you likely won’t make much use of it. 

Outdoors, though, is where visitors find their R&R. The building’s resort-style pool has private cabanas and tanning areas around it, as well as firepits to gather your group of up to four around.

Carriage house in Chastain Park

Luxury Atlanta Guesthouse in Buckhead

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This carriage house may be less than a mile away from Chastain Park, but it almost feels like your own private preserve. Its long meandering driveway takes you to the wooded property before dropping you off at your new doorstep. Once inside, you’ll find a modern, cool aesthetic that includes a new kitchen with granite counters and gray cabinets, and a spacious, bright marble-pattern bathroom. All around are windows with views of the trees beyond and your closest neighbors will be a barred owl and whatever birds happen to visit the feeder.

As nice as these digs are, outside is actually where the greatest attractions for this property lie. The carriage house opens up to its own deck, which then leads to a charming brick path on a sloped hillside. Head toward the hammock to get to the lovely in-ground pool, which even has fountains spouting into it. Between dips, grill up a meal and enjoy it on various premium loungers, the bar table, or the seats around the fire pit. But if you want a fire pit closer to nature, make your way to the treehouse and the large swing beside it. There’s a more rustic fire pit with tree stump seating there.

Three-story tree house on the mountain

Treasure Hunt Tree House in Metro Atlanta

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Granted, you’re half an hour or so away from the heart of the action in Atlanta’s Midtown out here in suburban Kennesaw, but that seems like a small price to pay to stay in such a fantastical setting. This true tree house, built into the canopy and in one part, around an actual tree is a self-contained adventure. It even has an escape room-type treasure hunt challenge built into your stay. 

Comprised of three floors total across two independent structures connected by a rope bridge lit by fairy lights, the first building features vaulted ceilings with pine beams and a tin roof for rain to gently pitter-patter down. Its walls are made of knotty bamboo walls whose patterns are broken up by a stained glass window and French doors that open wide. Through those doors, access a wraparound porch that leads to the other building, which has a screened-in area with tables and chairs for dining or relaxation, and a ladder fastened against the central tree’s trunk that leads up to a crow’s nest observatory.

Like the rest of the home, the bamboo it’s made of comes from only a few miles away, making it not only a sustainable material, but local to boot. Other local and personal touches include handmade lamps, a cypress and blue resin water pitcher table made with love by the owner, a cedar plank writing desk, and a bucket and pulley system in the crow’s nest. A manmade stream runs beneath, complete with mini waterfalls, a bridge, and hammocks ripe for taking naps to the tune of the gentle gurgle.

A stay here also provides plenty of creature comforts, including a full bathroom with a marble shower and handmade soap just yards from the front steps. 

FAQs

Where should I stay in Atlanta on vacation?

Midtown is one of the best areas to be close to much of the action. It’s close to the business district, as well as iconic hotels like the W Atlanta. Plus, it has a vibrant arts scene, along with bars, comedy clubs, boutiques, and some of the best restaurants in the city. 

Virginia Highlands is a great option for those seeking a classic bungalow feel. As Atlanta native and prominent realtor Ariel Baverman of Keller Williams First Atlanta puts it, “Virginia Highlands is just cool. The bungalow homes are really nice and super upgraded, typically, built in the 1920s and ’30s, and tend to have high ceilings if pre-war.”

Edgewood is another great place to look for rentals. According to Baverman, it’s “a neighborhood that’s been on the rise over the course of the last 15 or 20 years,” with “lots of new construction” to add more architectural diversity to the traditional Craftsman bungalow blocks. 

When is the best time to visit Atlanta?

From March to May is an especially ideal time to visit Atlanta. The weather is warm enough to take advantage of the numerous outdoor activities, but it won’t be hot and muggy yet.

Summers in Atlanta are known for being extremely hot and humid, and prices often soar during the peak summer season. On the flip side, if you visit in the winter, be prepared for lows in the 30s and possible ice storms. 

Are Airbnbs safe?

According to the CDC, travel in the US is safe for anyone fully vaccinated. Additionally, experts have said private rentals like Airbnbs are one of the safest lodging options since you won’t encounter other guests or have any interactions with staff. 

More of the best Airbnbs in the South

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Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms announces she won’t run for a second term

atlanta mayor lance bottoms
Atlanta mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms speaks onstage during the 10th Annual BronzeLens Film Festival Women Superstars Luncheon on August 23, 2019 in Atlanta, Georgia.

  • Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms is bowing out of running for a second term.
  • Bottoms gained a national profile for leading Atlanta through a tumultuous 2020.
  • Bottoms had also turned down a position to serve in President Joe Biden’s cabinet.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms announced she won’t seek a second term on Thursday night, a decision that sent political shockwaves through the city.

“As Derek and I have given thoughtful prayer and consideration to the season now before us, it is with deep emotions that I hold my head high, and choose not to seek another term as Mayor,” Bottoms, who was elected to office in 2017, said in a long letter published late Thursday.

Bottoms gained a national profile in 2020 for leading Atlanta through a tumultuous summer of protests and civil unrest around the killings of Black Americans by police, and forged an allyship with now-President Joe Biden, who recently hosted a fundraiser for her.

In the letter, Bottoms emphasized that she wasn’t scared away by potential competition, saying that her fundraising and polling put her in a strong position to run for another term.

She had been rumored to be under consideration for various positions in the Biden administration throughout 2020, including Ambassador to the Bahamas (which her team denied), head of the Small Business Administration, and even as Biden’s running mate.

In December 2020, Bottoms confirmed she had turned down an offer to serve in Biden’s cabinet for an unspecified position in order to focus on her mayoral duties.

Read more: Washington job moves of the week: A former Matt Gaetz staffer quickly lands a new gig, while Trump’s former EPA chief lands at a conservative think tank

Bottoms stepping down and declining to run for a second term is part of a national trend of mayors, burnt out from shepherding their cities through the COVID-19 pandemic, heading for the exits, The New York Times reports.

Citing people close to Bottoms, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported that she declined to run for another term “because she felt her motivation sapping.”

Some reports on Thursday night suggested Bottoms was leaving office so that she or her husband Derek Bottoms could take an executive job with Walgreens in Chicago, which Bottoms’ team denied.

Leading contenders who could jump into what will be a crowded race for Bottoms’ job include former Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed, 2017 candidate Mary Norwood, Atlanta Hawks CEO Steve Koonin, and former state lawmaker Jason Carter, according to the Journal-Constitution.

Read the original article on Business Insider

ICE said to transfer women out of detention center that became infamous over allegations of forced sterilization

AP20315785354138
FILE – In this Tuesday, Sept. 15, 2020, file photo, Dawn Wooten, left, a nurse at Irwin County Detention Center in Ocilla, Georgia, speaks at a news conference in Atlanta protesting conditions at the immigration jail. The Trump administration is deporting several women who have alleged they were abused or mistreated by a Georgia gynecologist at an immigration detention center, according to lawyers representing the women.

  • ICE has transferred out the last women at Irwin County Detention Center, according to a lawyer for former detainees.
  • The agency did not respond to multiple requests to confirm the development.
  • The privately run facility attracted international scrutiny last year over claims of forced sterilization.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

An immigration detention center in Georgia where dozens of people alleged they were subjected to unnecessary medical procedures without their consent is no longer detaining any women, according a lawyer for some former detainees.

US Immigration and Customs Enforcement, including its field office in Atlanta, did not respond to multiple requests for comment.

The Irwin County Detention Center outside Atlanta was the subject of a congressional investigation last year after a nurse at the privately-run facility, Dawn Wooten, alleged that women there were being sterilized without their consent.

A review of medical records, as well as interviews with immigrants detained there, found that women underwent an unusually large number of gynecological procedures, many alleging they were performed without informed consent. Last year, the Mexican government confirmed at least one of its citizens had been the victim of an unauthorized surgery while detained there.

“Do I still have ovaries?” one person asked after waking up from an operation, the Los Angeles Times reported. “Can I still have kids?”

ICE states it only has records of two women undergoing hysterectomies. But dozens of women are now taking part in a class-action lawsuit against Dr. Mahendra Amin, the gynecologist who performed the surgeries, alleging medical malpractice that in some cases is alleged to have been tantamount to sexual assault. Amin is not board certified and LaSalle Corrections, the for-profit company that runs the detention center, has severed its relationship with him.

“ICE knew about this as far back as 2018 and yet they did nothing,” Azadeh Shahshahani, Legal & Advocacy Director at Project South, the group that publicized the whistleblower complaint in September 2020, told Insider. “I think the explanation there is the dehumanization of the Black and brown immigrant women at this detention center.”

Some of those women have since been deported; the majority have been released; and about 80 to 100 men are still there, according to Shahshahani, who is co-counsel on the lawsuit.

Removing the women who were still being detained in Irwin County is an acknowledgement, Shahshahani said, that the critics were right. Still, where some of these women have gone is not seen as much of an upgrade.

The Stewart Detention Center, about 140 miles south of Atlanta, is run by CoreCivic, one of the largest for-profit prison companies. While the facility has over the years developed a reputation for medical neglect, Shahshahani believes it’s been picked – after not hosting women for more than a decade – because it lacks the infamy that now taints the Irwin County Detention Center.

Detention Watch Network, a group that advocates shuttering immigration detention centers altogether, is calling for the women to be released.

“The Irwin detention center is emblematic of how the immigration detention system as a whole is inherently abusive, unjust and fatally flawed beyond repair,” Setareh Ghandehari, the group’s advocacy director, said in a statement. “The Biden administration must shut down detention centers immediately and end detention contracts.”

As of 2019, ICE had contracts with 106 privately run detention facilities, according to a report by the Department of Homeland Security’s Inspector General. The vast majority of detained immigrants are being held in for-profit ventures.

During a speech Thursday, not far from the Irwin County Detention Center, activists interrupted President Joe Biden, demanding that he “abolish private detention.”

“Private detention centers should not exist,” Biden responded, “and we are working to close all of them.”

But that is not what is happening. A week after taking office, Biden signed an executive order requiring the Department of Justice to phase out its use of for-profit prisons – but the order does not not extend to ICE.

On Friday, the Miami Herald reported the Biden administration is conducting negotiations with GEO Group, a private prison company, about renewing a contract to run an ICE detention center in Florida.

“They say the right thing, which is welcome,” Shahshahani told Insider, “but they need to follow that up with action.”

Have a news tip? Email this reporter: cdavis@insider.com

Read the original article on Business Insider

Ex-cop facing murder charges in death of Rayshard Brooks wants back on the force

garrett rolfe rayshard brooks
The Atlanta police officer Garrett Rolfe shot Rayshard Brooks on June 12 as the 27-year-old Black man ran away in a Wendy’s parking lot.

  • Former Atlanta police officer Garrett Rolfe was fired the day after he fatally shot Rayshard Brooks.
  • Rolfe says he wasn’t granted due process to defend himself and wants to be reinstated.
  • He faces a felony murder charge and 10 other charges in Brooks’ death.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

The former Atlanta police officer who is facing murder charges over the shooting of Rayshard Brooks wants to be put back on the force, The Washington Post reported.

Garrett Rolfe was fired from the Atlanta Police Department in June 2020 after he fatally shot Brooks in a Wendy’s drive-thru.

On June 12, 2020, two Atlanta police officers responded to a complaint of a man who was asleep in his car at the drive-thru. Brooks, a 27-year-old black man and father of four, failed an alcohol breath test and when the officer tried to arrest him a struggle ensued.

Video from the incident shows Brooks grabbing one of the officers’ tasers, firing at them, and taking off running. Rolfe then opened fire, which hit Brooks in the back. He died at a hospital later.

Rolfe faces a felony murder charge and 10 other charges in Brooks’ death.

Rolfe’s attorney, Lance LoRusso, told Atlanta’s civil service board that he was dismissed “without a proper investigation” a day after the June 12 shooting and that he should be reinstated, USA TODAY reported.

LoRusso said Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms’ call to have Rolfe fired immediately “grossly violated” his ability to have due process and time to defend his actions.

Sgt. William Dean, an internal affairs investigator, said a hearing in June to determine if Rolfe should be fired was moved up to accommodate a scheduled news conference by Lance Bottoms that announced his firing, USA TODAY reported.

Assistant Atlanta Police Chief Todd Coyt told the civil service board he believed the two arresting officers acted properly, the Post reported on Thursday.

“The officers were trying to show compassion and they were not overly aggressive,” Coyt said. “They tried to do everything they could to calm the situation down.”

The Post reported that on the form that authorized Rolfe’s dismissal, two conflicting boxes were crossed off: One that said it was an emergency and one that said it wasn’t. LoRusso said if the situation was not an emergency, then Rolfe was entitled to 10 days to respond.

Dean said the error was simple and occurred because of the rushed nature of the situation, adding that the police department and Office of Professional Standards allow for officers to be immediately dismissed without the 10-day notice.

Dean also told the Post there could have been issues had Rolfe had gone back to work following the shooting.

“We would have to protect him, and then we would have to deal with the citizens who were mad that he’s out patrolling,” Dean said.

He added that if Rolfe were to go back to work, he’d most likely be on at-home suspension.

Read the original article on Business Insider

Atlanta Mayor says the MLB moving All-Star Game from Georgia ‘is likely the first of many dominoes to fall’ in pushback against new voting law

Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms
Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms.

  • Mayor Bottoms said that the MLB’s decision to pull the All-Star Game from Atlanta would hit the area hard.
  • “Just as elections have consequences, so do the actions of those who are elected,” she wrote.
  • GOP Gov. Brian Kemp has lashed out at critics of the controversial new voting bill.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms on Friday said that Major League Baseball’s decision to move the All-Star Game out of Georgia over its controversial new voting law is “likely” the start of more actions taken against the state.

While speaking out against the law on Twitter, Bottoms emphasized the economic harm that such a backlash will cause throughout Georgia.

“Just as elections have consequences, so do the actions of those who are elected,” she wrote. “Unfortunately, the removal of the MLB All Star game from GA is likely the 1st of many dominoes to fall, until the unnecessary barriers put in place to restrict access to the ballot box are removed.”

She added: “Boycotts in GA will hit the metro Atlanta hardest and have a ripple effect across the state. Small businesses, corporations that support our communities, and everyday working people will suffer. It is not too late to right this sinking ship.

MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred expressed on Friday that the decision to move the All-Star Game and MLB Draft was “the best way to demonstrate our values as a sport.”

“Major League Baseball fundamentally supports voting rights for all Americans and opposes restrictions to the ballot box,” he said in a statement. “Fair access to voting continues to have our game’s unwavering support.”

Since the law’s passage on March 25, major corporations, including Delta Airlines and Coca-Cola under pressure from politicians and activists, have more forcefully come out against its restrictive measures.

The conservative-backed law tightens election rules in the state by limiting drop boxes, strengthening voter identification requirements, blocking the usage of mobile voting vans, and even banning water and food from being distributed to voters waiting in line, among other measures.

GOP Gov. Brian Kemp, who signed the bill into law, flatly rejects claims that it reinforces voter suppression and said that the law makes it “easy to vote and hard to cheat.”

Read more: Here are 9 hurdles Biden’s infrastructure plan would have to overcome in Congress before it can become law

On Friday, the governor lashed out at MLB’s decision on Fox News, accusing the organization of adhering to “cancel culture.”

Kemp continued to express his displeasure with the situation on Twitter, lashing out at prominent Democrats.

“This attack on our state is the direct result of repeated lies from [President] Joe Biden and [former Georgia state House Minority Leader] Stacey Abrams about a bill that expands access to the ballot box and ensures the integrity of our elections,” he wrote. “I will not back down. Georgians will not be bullied. We will continue to stand up for secure, accessible, fair elections.”

Abrams, who was narrowly defeated by Kemp in the state’s 2018 gubernatorial race and could potentially run against the incumbent governor in 2022, said on Friday that she was “disappointed” by the move but was “proud” of the MLB’s support of voting rights.

“Like many Georgians, I am disappointed that the MLB is relocating the All-Star game; however, I commend the players, owners and League commissioner for speaking out,” she said in a statement. “As I have stated, I respect boycotts, although I don’t want to see Georgia families hurt by lost events and jobs. Georgians targeted by voter suppression will be hurt as opportunities go to other states. We should not abandon the victims of GOP malice and lies – we must stand together.”

Former President Barack Obama on Saturday praised the decision, making a nod to the late baseball icon Hank Aaron, who faced racial threats throughout his professional baseball career.

“Congratulations to MLB for taking a stand on behalf of voting rights for all citizens,” he wrote. “There’s no better way for America’s pastime to honor the great Hank Aaron, who always led by example.”

As of Saturday, MLB has not revealed the new host city for the 2021 All-Star Game.

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A Georgia lawmaker was charged with a felony while protesting Gov. Brian Kemp’s signing of a new voter reform bill

georgia rep park cannon atlanta arrested
State Rep. Park Cannon, D-Atlanta, is placed into the back of a Georgia State Capitol patrol car after being arrested by Georgia State Troopers at the Georgia State Capitol Building in Atlanta, Thursday, March 25, 2021.

  • Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp signed a sweeping election reform bill into law Thursday.
  • As he announced the bill, Democratic Rep. Park Cannon was filmed knocking on Kemp’s door.
  • Cannon was arrested and charged with obstruction as a result of the incident.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

Georgia state Rep. Park Cannon was arrested on Thursday and charged with felony obstruction as Georgia’s Gov. Brian Kemp signed a controversial new voting reform bill into law.

Cannon was detained after knocking on Kemp’s door.

Kemp, a Republican, was announcing the signing of the bill over a live stream when he was interrupted by Cannon, a Democrat. Cannon’s arrest was also captured during a live stream, as the lawmaker was joined by others who came to the state Capitol in Atlanta to protest the bill.

According to a statement provided to Insider from Georgia State Patrol, Cannon continued to knock on the door after police told her to stop.

“She was advised that she was disturbing what was going on inside and if she did not stop, she would be placed under arrest,” the statement said. After knocking more, police said she was again told she would be arrested for obstruction and removed from the building.

Videos posted on Twitter showed the moment of the arrest. Cannon can be seen talking with a police officer who is standing between her and the door. She takes a step back from the door, before again stepping up to knock and is immediately arrested by two officers.

Others present immediately begin protesting the arrest, with one asking, “Under arrest for what? For trying to see something that our governor is doing?”

“Our governor is signing a bill that affects all Georgians, and you’re going to arrest an elected representative?” the person said.

Police said Cannon was moved to the Fulton County Jail and charged with obstruction of law enforcement, a felony, and preventing or disrupting General Assembly sessions or meetings of members, a misdemeanor.

US Sen. Raphael Warnock of Georgia visited Cannon while she was being held in jail, his office told CNN.

Cannon’s office didn’t immediately respond to Insider’s request for comment.

Just after midnight, she posted on Twitter: “Hey everyone, thank you for your support. I’ve been released from jail. I am not the first Georgian to be arrested for fighting voter suppression. I’d love to say I’m the last, but we know that isn’t true.”

The controversial election reform bill signed by Kemp expands early voting in most counties and mandates identification for mail-in voting, among many other changes.

It also bans volunteers from delivering supplies, including food and water, to voters waiting in long lines and prohibits most uses of mobile voting buses.

Have a news tip? Contact this reporter at kvlamis@insider.com.

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2020 saw more gun deaths in the US than any year in over two decades, showing even a pandemic couldn’t stop the violence

gun violence
New York Police Department installs tape around crime scene on August 16, 2020, near Prospect Park in Brooklyn where fatal shooting occurred.

  • There were a record number of gun violence deaths in 2020: 19,379.
  • This represents a huge leap from recent years, and the highest number in over two decades.
  • By one definition, there were also 611 mass shootings in 2020.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

Last year saw the highest number of gun violence deaths in the US in more than 20 years, even as the pandemic coincided with a relative absence of high-profile mass shootings on the scale of recent incidents in Atlanta and Boulder.

There were 19,379 gun violence deaths in the US in 2020, according to data from the nonprofit Gun Violence Archive. This statistic excludes suicides involving guns, which consistently account for a majority (roughly two-thirds) of annual US gun deaths. In 2020, Gun Violence Archive found there were 24,090 gun suicides.

Since Gun Violence Archive started tracking firearm violence in 2013, annual gun violence deaths generally fluctuated between 12,000 and 15,000. The next highest year after 2020 was 2017, when there were 15,718 gun violence deaths.

The recent shootings in Georgia and Colorado, which both occured less than a week apart, led many on social media to suggest that the easing of COVID-19 restrictions and gradual return to normalcy would translate into a spike in mass shootings in 2021.

Former President Barack Obama, for example, in a statement responding to the Atlanta and Boulder shootings said, “A once-in-a-century pandemic cannot be the only thing that slows mass shootings in this country.”

But mass shootings actually increased in 2020 as compared to 2019, according to Gun Violence Archive, which defines mass shootings as four or more people being shot or killed in a single incident (excluding the shooter). There were 611 mass shootings in 2020, up from 417 in 2019.

That said, there is not a universally agreed upon definition of mass shootings. Gun Violence Archive’s standard is fairly broad compared to those used by other databases that define mass shootings as an incident in which four or more are fatally shot, not including the shooter.

But many experts say that defining mass shootings based on how many are shot rather than the number killed offers a fuller picture of the scale of gun violence in the US. It also helps highlight incidents that generally don’t make headlines and disproportionately impact Black Americans and people of color. Public mass shootings also account for just a fraction of total gun deaths in the US, and focusing on them can lead to myopic perspectives on gun violence.

“The difference between a fatality and a survivor might be simply a matter of marksmanship,” Dr. Garen Wintemute, an emergency medicine physician and director of the University of California Firearm Violence Research Center, recently told ABC News. “There’s no such thing as an insignificant life. We pay extra attention when a bunch of lives are lost all at once in a single event. We’re less aware of all the people who die or are shot or survive one at a time.”

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Sen. Raphael Warnock says ‘we need reasonable gun reform in our country’ in response to ‘tragic’ Atlanta-area shootings

raphael warnock
Sen. Raphael Warnock, D-Ga., arrives prior to the start of arguments in the second impeachment trial of former President Donald Trump, at the Capitol, Wednesday, Feb. 10, 2021 in Washington.

Sen. Raphael Warnock of Georgia said the US needed “reasonable gun reform in our country” in response to the Atlanta-area shootings that left eight people dead.

“We need reasonable gun reform in our country,” Warnock said on NBC’s “Meet the Press” Sunday. “This shooter was able to kill all of these folks the same day he purchased a firearm. But right now, what is our legislature doing? They’re busy under the gold dome in Georgia trying to prevent people from being able to vote the same day they register.”

He continued: “When you can buy a gun and create this much carnage and violence on the same day, but if you want to exercise your right to vote as an American citizen… the same legislature that should be focused on this, is busy erecting barriers to that constitutional right.”

Last week, a white gunman, 21-year-old white man, Robert Aaron Long, was arrested and charged for shootings at spas in the Atlanta-area earlier this week. Six of eight people who died during the attack were women of Asian descent.

“We all know hate when we see it. It is tragic that we’ve been visited with this kind of violence yet again,” Warnock said in the interview. “I’m going to do everything in my power as a United States Senator to make sure that families don’t have to endure this kind of violence in the first place.”

Long told law enforcement that he had a “sex addiction” and that the attack was not racially motivated, however, advocates are pushing back against that claim. The shootings came amid a rise in hate against the Asian American community during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Warnock, along with Sen. Jon Ossoff and state Rep. Bee Nguyen attended a rally on Saturday condemning hate crimes against the Asian American community, the Associated Press reported.

“I just wanted to drop by to say to my Asian sisters and brothers, we see you, and, more importantly, we are going to stand with you,” Warnock said during the rally, according to the AP.

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Police ignored the role of race and gender in the Georgia shootings. Here’s what Asian advocates in Atlanta are saying about it

Atl Flowers
Lijing Zhao lays a bouquet of flowers outside a spa where four people were shot and killed on March 17, 202. in Acworth, Georgia.

  • Georgia activists have mobilized to help the families of six Asian women killed on March 16.
  • The attack has forced a conversation over misogyny and hypersexualization directed at Asian women.
  • Georgia officials came under fire for accepting the alleged shooter’s narrative of the attack.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

E. Lim had little time to process the brutal attack that claimed the lives of six Asian women and two others at three Metro-Atlanta spas.

As the organizing and civic engagement director for Asian Americans Advancing Justice-Atlanta, Lim-like many of their colleagues-was in response mode. Atlanta born and raised and a local organizer since 2015, Lim told Insider their initial reaction was to detach from the killings.

“I’ve had to dissociate so hard, because I know people in similar situations,” said Lim referring to the common experience of sexual harassment and sexual assault in the workplace.

The horrific violence that unfolded on Tuesday night in Atlanta has forced a national conversation over the long history of anti-Asian violence and discrimination, as well as the misogyny and hypersexualization directed at Asian women in this country.

The official narrative of what happened, which seemed to accept the explanation given by the assailant, has also galvanized Asian-American activists and organizers in Georgia to turn this into a teachable moment.

“It is racialized,” said Lim. “When you talk about ‘massage parlors’ and then talk about how sex work might be involved, you’re talking about race.”

A statement condemning systemic racism and gender-based violence had 180 signatories from state and national organizations, said Stephanie Cho, director of the AAAJ-Atlanta. The group is fundraising to support the families of those killed.

“White supremacy is literally killing us,” said Cho. “Asian American communities have been under the radar on this issue, but honestly, this is a time for us to really come together, be in solidarity, and really have those tough conversations community conversations around policy.

“YOU’RE TALKING ABOUT RACE”

Beginning at around 5pm on Tuesday night, a gunman attacked a massage parlor north of Atlanta, and then two other massage parlors in metro Atlanta, killing six Asian women and two others.

The Cherokee County Sheriff’s Department identified the four people killed at Young’s Asian Massage as Delaina Ashley Yaun, 33; Paul Andre Michels, 54; Xiaojie Tan, 49; and Daoyou Feng, 44. Elcias R. Hernandez-Ortiz, 30, was also injured in the shooting. As of Thursday morning, the Atlanta Police Department had not released the names of the four people killed at the two spas in Atlanta.Sent from my iPhone

Atl flowers 2
Flowers were left at one of the spas targeted in the March 16 attack.

Around 6% of the population in metro Atlanta identifies as Asian, according to Atlanta Regional Commission’s 2020 estimates. Cherokee County, where the first attack occurred, is around 2% Asian.

Almost immediately, the narrative of what had happened put forward by Georgia officials downplayed a “racial motivation” for the killings and relied on what the alleged killer had told police. Jay Baker, the spokesman for the Cherokee County Sheriff, said at a news conference that the suspect had had “a really bad day,” was “kind of at the end of his rope,” and had told police that he considers himself a “sex addict.”

But community leaders in Atlanta had a clear message: The racism and misogyny impacting Asian women must not be ignored. And even if sex work was involved, the lives of these women were no less valuable than any other.

The killings also hit home hard for Wei Jia, a local organizer, who lives about a mile from one of the spas. Echoing others, Jia told Insider that the focus on whether the perpetrator was a sex addict fit into an old trope of a Jack the Ripper like character with no real interrogation of history.

“The sheriff sympathizing with the gunman, like saying that he just had a ‘bad day’ speaks volumes,” said Jia. “He didn’t mention anything about the women that were killed. Didn’t mention anything about their families, about their lives.”

Jia pointed to the long history of dehumanizing and sexualizing Asian women: Prior to the Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882, The United States banned the immigration of Chinese Women in the Page Act of 1875 under the guise of preventing sex work.

Atl white sup sign
A woman places a sign of solidarity outside a spa where four people were killed on March 17, 2021 in Acworth, Georgia.

“That a white male murdered Asian women in the United States is part of a very long history of white supremacist violence against anybody who wasn’t white,” Jia said.

Blaming an alleged sexual addiction as the motive in the killing of six Asian women and two others is itself racist, while taking the perpetrator at his word further victimized the victims and denied them their humanity, said Bentley Hudgins, a queer organizer based in Atlanta. “They’re so ready to distance themselves from calling this racist and misogyny and trying to downplay this as just like a white incel who was mad he didn’t get off that they’re missing the point entirely,” Hudgins said in an interview.

Hudgins and Jia’s comment came just hours before Buzzfeed News reported that Baker, the sheriff’s department spokesperson, posted racist anti-Asian shirts on Facebook last April that blamed China for the Covid-19 pandemic.

According to the Stop AAPI Hate reporting center, which tracks xenophobic hate against Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders, 3,795 incidents have been reported between last March 19 and Feb. 28 of this year. Close to 70% of the incidents were against women. In a recent survey, NAPAWF found that nearly half of Asian American and Pacific Islander women have been affected by anti-Asian racism in the past two years.

THROUGH TRAGEDY, A TEACHABLE MOMENT

Community advocates in Atlanta say they are prioritizing support for the victims’ families and the community at large, and they explained those efforts at a press conference on Wednesday.

“Much of our focus is back towards the victims and their families and really what our communities need,” Aisha Yaqoob Mahmood, executive director of the Asian American Advocacy Fund adding that legal services, mental health, and language support were needed.

Instead of allowing a sympathetic narrative toward the perpetrator to dominate coverage, attention should focus on reporting stories from the community and about how this attack impacted the community, she said. “We continue to bring the focus back to who are the most vulnerable in our communities, and working towards making sure that we can provide safety and security for us all.”

The intersection of race, gender, and class colors the response and underlying assumption made about the worth of those killed, the organizers said, while the killing of six women in the course of their work also underscores the vulnerability of those in low-wage jobs.

“This is a gender and race based violence that happened to our community,” said Leng Leng Chancey, Executive Director for 9to5, an organization focused on increasing economic security as well as political power and participation of working women.

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Julie Tran holds her phone during a candlelight vigil for the Atlanta victims held in Garden Grove, California.

She pointed to the challenges of dealing with sexual harassment and assault along with other institutional barriers. “Low-wage workers already faced multiple hurdles and systemic racism every day,” Chancey said. “I mean, who can you really report this to?”

Organizers said the events of this week, horrific as they were, can serve as teachable moments for how to discuss and cover violent attacks on marginalized communities, and the importance of listening to individuals from those communities.

Shortly after the attacks, the Asian American Journalists Association issued a guidance saying the use of “massage parlor” as a descriptor to describe the business establishments is outdated and reinforces negative stereotypes that hypersexualize and dehumanize Asian women.

The guidance also stressed the need to study the context within which Asian communities are experiencing and receiving this latest news, while acknowledging the diversity within the “Asian community.”

“The media needs to understand that the Asian community is not a monolith,” Sarah Park, the president of the Atlanta chapter of the Korean American Coalition, said at Wednesday’s press conference.

“We speak over hundreds of different languages. We practice different cultural religions, we are all different individuals.”

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