Fani Willis Indicts Trump; Keith Lee Causes A Stir; Coco Gauff Wins U.S. Open: 10 Most Impactful Atlanta Stories Of 2023

Atlanta continued to influence the nation in 2023. Several stories made national headlines and shed light on the ongoing success and, at times, failures of the city. 

ADW wraps up the top 10 Atlanta stories of 2023.

Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis, the woman prosecuting Donald Trump (Photo, Facebook).

Fani Willis Indicts Donald Trump

Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis made national headlines after indicting Donald Trump and 18 others for their alleged roles to overturn the 2020 election. Those charged include Trump, Rudy Giuliani, John Eastman, Mark Meadows, Kenneth Cheseboro, Jenna Ellis, Ray Smith, David Shafer, Sidney Powell, and Cathy Latham. Trump and his co-defendants were booked into the notorious Fulton County Jail. Trump is on record asking former Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger and Gov. Brian Kemp to help overturn the election on separate occasions. He asked Raffensperger during a phone call to help him secure over 11,000 votes, the amount in which he trailed Joe Biden in Georgia. During a recorded call that took place on Jan. 2, 2021, Trump told Raffensperger, “All I want to do is this. I just want to find 11,780 votes, which is one more than we have. Because we won the state.” If convicted, Trump could still run for or win presidency in 2024. However, he would not be able to pardon himself in Georgia due it being a state charge. 

YSL Case Begins After Nearly One Year Of Jury Selection, Multiple Odd Issues 

Opening arguments in the Young Thug, YSL trial finally began after nearly one year of jury selection. The trial is one of the more prominent cases where rap lyrics will be used as evidence in court. Judge Ural Glanville ruled that 17 different lyrics can be used as evidence against Young Thug and his co-defendants. On the other side, District Attorney Fani Willis has argued that some of YSL lyrics are inspired by real crimes that took place. Last year during a press conference, Wills said, “Don’t confess to crimes on rap lyrics if you do not want them used in court.” However, the YSL trial was suspended until 2024 after Shannon Stillwell was stabbed at the infamous Fulton County Jail. 

Funding For Black-led Businesses Attacked Following Supreme County Affirmative Action Ruling

Edward Blum, president of AAER, is the face of the initial lawsuit that led to the dismantling of Affirmative Action. For over a decade, Blum filed multiple lawsuits and was only successful after a Supreme Court, filled with multiple Trump appointees, used its power to end race-base admissions on college campuses. Blum and his organization is now going after a fund that supports Black women-led businesses. The Fearless Fund is an Atlanta-based venture capital firm that uses its resources to invests in and fund Black women in business. The fund has invested $25 million into over 40 companies that include Slutty Vegan, The Lip Bar, Partake Foods, and Live Tinted. Blum and his American Alliance for Equal Rights filed a lawsuit in Atlanta federal court that alleges a program that awards $20,000 in small business grants to Black women is in violation of the Civil Rights Act of 1866. In America, over $70 billion was allocated for VC funding in 2023, according to Crunchbase. However, less than 1% of that amount went to companies founded by Black people. 

Atlanta Native Coco Gauff Wins U.S. Open

Atlanta native Coco Gauf made history by becoming the first American teenager to win the U.S. Open since Serena Williams, 17 at the time, did it in 1999. Gauf, 19, defeated the No. 1 player in the world Aryna Sabalenka in dramatic fashion. After losing the first set 6-2, Gauf captured the second set 6-3. During the third set, Gauff took control of the match and defeated Sanalenka 6-2. The victory was her first major title and it will move her to No. 3 in the world. In a post-match interview, Gauff thanked the non-believers. “Thank you to the people who didn’t believe in me,” she said. “I tried me best to do this with grace. But for those who thought you were putting water on my fire, you are really putting gas on it.”

Mayor Dickens, Jermaine Dupri Photo: A.R. Shaw

Atlanta’s Impact On Hip-Hop 50 & Killer Mike Releases Best Rap Album Of 2023

Atlanta’s place in hip-hop will never be forgotten. With the genre turning 50, several prominent events took place in Atlanta to celebrate the genre. Mayor Andre Dickens teamed up with Jermaine Dupri, T.I., Goodie Mob, and other prominent Atlanta-based artists to host a legendary concert to celebrate “Hip-Hop 50″; Jermaine Dupri and Dallas Austin hosted a pop-up museum at Underground Atlanta; Elevate Atlanta presented several art, photo exhibits, and panel discussions to highlight the contributions of Atlanta in hip-hop; the Falcons hosted a Hip-Hop 50 concert and honored over 100 artists during a game; the Atlanta Journal-Constitution released the documentary “The South Got Something to Say”; and the City of Atlanta presented the Hip-Hop 50 Time Capsule where hip-hop related items will be buried for 25 years.

Furthermore, Atlanta native Killer Mike released what many are calling the best rap album of the year in “Michael.” The Grammy nominated project has been noted by multiple prominent outlets.

In a statement, Mayor Dickens said, “Atlanta’s role in the evolution of Hip Hop has been outsized and indisputable. It’s only fitting the City of Atlanta joins our community in celebrating the industry and culture we helped shape and helped shape us. Hip Hop goes beyond music—from fashion to art to building economic empires or political movements, it resonates beyond sound. We look forward to commemorating this milestone with the community.”

Atlanta Native Halle Bailey Stars In “Little Mermaid”

The Little Mermaid broke box office records during Memorial Day weekend. The Disney film, which stars Atlanta-native Halle Bailey, became the fifth highest-grossing release in the history of Memorial Day weekend by earning $117.5 million in the United States. The film faced backlash from racist trolls since Disney announced Bailey as the lead character Ariel in 2019. On social media, the hashtag #NotMyAriel began trending and became a space for hatred against Bailey, who is Black, for her portrayal of the character. Freeform responded to the hatred by posting on social media, “The Little Mermaid was Danish. Ariel… is a mermaid, Danish mermaids can be black because Danish people can be Black.” The film also faced review-bombing which is an occurrence where groups of people flood review sites with negative ratings. On IMDb, “The Little Mermaid” received over 14,000 1-star reviews out of 34,000. IMDb noted that the film received “unusual voting activity” due to the large amounts of negative ratings.  

Keith Lee Shakes Atlanta’s Food Scene

Keith Lee, who has over 14 million followers on TikTok, created a firestorm on social media after being critical of several restaurants in Atlanta. Lee recently shared that he has also faced threats.

I can’t win for losing,” Lee said on his latest social media post. “I understand everybody gonna have an opinion on the situation. You can disagree with me. You can like what I say. Completely understand. I’m ok with that. But when my safety and my family safety are coming into play, that’s where I draw the line at. But what can’t happen is with my family or the restaurants or anybody’s safety are coming into play.”

Andre 3000 Releases Solo Album

For the past 17 years, André 3000’s has gained the moniker of being hip-hop’s most elusive figure. Since the release of the biggest-selling rap album of all-time, “Speakerboxx/Love Below,” and the “Idlewild” soundtrack, André 3000 has only dabbled in hip-hop by appearing as a guest feature on songs from other artists. His most recent offering being the Grammy-nominated “Scientists and Engineers” by Killer Mike.  The sporadic guest verses would leave rap fans craving for the return of OutKast or, at least, a solo project from André 3000. On the morning of Nov. 14, André 3000 announced the release of his first solo project, “New Blue Sun.” But while fans of André 3000 have anticipated this moment for years, it’s not a conventional rap album. The project does not feature rhymes, beats, or lyrical melodies. It’s a musical journey of André 3000  playing contrabass flute, Mayan flutes, bamboo flutes and other digital wind instruments. The album’s first song, “I swear, I Really Wanted To Make A ‘Rap’ Album But This Is Literally The Way The Wind Blew Me This Time,” provides a hint of where André 3000 is musically. 

Cop City Sparks RICO Indictments

Republican Attorney General Chris Carr announced a RICO against 61 people who allegedly protesting the construction of the police and training center known as “Cop City.” The indictment claimed that the defendants are “militant anarchists” who conspired to support a violent movement against the government. RICO convictions can carry a harsh sentences and penalties. However, there has been push back over the language used in the indictment and the creating of a narrative that suggests the conspiracy began on the day of George Floyd’s death on May 25, 2020. Andrea Young, Executive Director of ACLU, spoke with ADW to discuss the indictment. She spoke about the indictments attempt to connect George Floyd protestors to the “Cop City” protests. For reference, most of the “Cop City” protests occurred about one year after the height of the George Floyd protests.

Mayhem at the Fulton County Jail

Ten people have died at the Fulton County Jail in 2023. The death’s have occurred during a time when the national media has focused on the Fulton County Jail after former President Donald Trump was being booked at the facility on a RICO charge. The deaths also comes after Lashawn Thompson’s passing made national news. In September of 2022, Thompson was found dead in a filthy jail cell with sores from insect bites all over his body. Thompson was reportedly severely bitten by bed bugs in the cell which was also infested with lice. The Fulton County Medical Examiner listed Thompson’s death as “undetermined.” There were no signs of trauma, but the examiner noted that there was bed bug infestation and bites on his body. Thompson’s family attorney says an infection from the bites led to cardiac arrhythmia and to his death. Officials from the Fulton County Jail released a statement saying the issues of bed bugs and lice have been addressed. “Approving an additional expenditure of $500,000 to address the infestation of bed bugs, lice and other vermin within the jail which was done in addition to prior cleaning operations targeting communicable diseases that are common in congregant settings; Updating protocols for security rounds to include addressing sanitary conditions.”

 

 

 

 
 
 
 
 

 

 

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