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Sheriff of Georgia county where Laken Riley murdered campaigned against cooperating with ICE

The sheriff of the Georgia county where a Venezuelan migrant has been charged with murdering nursing student Laken Riley had campaigned on refusing to cooperate with Immigration and Customs Enforcement officers, a resurfaced interview shows.

“It is not my intention, when elected sheriff, to cooperate with those detainers,” John Williams, the now-sheriff of Athens-Clarke County, said in a 2020 interview with Athens Political Nerds.

He was referring to detainers ICE placed on illegal immigrants who were arrested on criminal charges.


John Williams is seen in the 2020 interview.
John Williams, the sheriff of Athens-Clarke county, campaigned on a platform of not cooperating with ICE. Athens Politics Nerd / Youtube

“I see it as the sheriff’s responsibility, any law enforcement, to protect and serve the community,” Williams continued.

“We can’t help with a culture of fear in our community and expect our community to respond and help us in situations, because the fact is that a lot of law enforcement is based around community support,” he explained.

“Building relationships is key and if we’re antagonizing people because they are undocumented, then they built that fear in them, and they’re not likely to come to us — not only when we need their help, but when they need our help.

“So that’s not something that we’d be doing. We won’t be doing any type of round-ups and we won’t be contributing to that culture of fear,” Williams vowed.

“We want people to respect the police, but we also want them to trust us.”

The 2020 interview resurfaced online shortly after Athens Mayor Kelly Girtz was brutally heckled over his own soft stance on immigration.

On Wednesday, the mayor defended his stance over the shouts of the hecklers, attempting to dismiss what he described as “the notion of a sanctuary city” on his turf.

“There is no legislation from this government that’s created sanctuary city status,” Girtz said.

“You’re a liar!” one man shouted back, according to a report by Fox News Digital. “You’re the one who is guilty and got blood on your hands for this murder, sir!”

Police documents claim Venezuelan national Jose Antonio Ibarra, 26, prevented Riley, 22, from dialing the emergency helpline before he dragged her body to a secluded area on the University of Georgia campus last week.

Riley was found hours later on the University of Georgia campus with a disfigured skull. She died of blunt-force trauma.

Ibarra is now charged with malice murder, felony murder, aggravated battery, aggravated assault, false imprisonment, kidnapping, hindering a 911 call and concealing the death of another.

He had entered the country illegally in 2022, but was released pending “future proceedings,” US Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials have said.

From there, he worked in the Big Apple delivering food and was arrested in Queens on Aug. 31 on a child endangerment charge — but was released before the agency could file a request to deport him, immigration officials said.

Ibarra later moved down to Georgia, to live with his brother, Diego, and the two brothers were busted for shoplifting at an Athens Walmart in October and charged with stealing $200 in merchandise, but were released after being issued summonses.

Diego Ibarra was later detained by ICE for using a phony green card to land a job at UGA.

At his press conference Wednesday, Girtz said the city is “deeply sorry for this tragedy.

“Responsibility for this crime rests solely upon the perpetrator,” he added.

Written by SaleemBaloch

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