Attendees to our virtual event will participate in our tribute to First Amendment heroes, preview the foundation’s legislative agenda and gain exclusive access to a bonus training event on law enforcement and the First Amendment.
Join the Georgia First Amendment Foundation for our virtual 2020 Charles L. Weltner Freedom of Information event from 1-2 p.m. on Oct. 15.
Our 19th annual Weltner event will commemorate how First Amendment rights have helped shape this unprecedented year. We also will look ahead to our legislative agenda and initiatives to protect and expand government transparency, accountability journalism and free speech in Georgia in 2021 and beyond.
Commemorating this year’s First Amendment heroes
In a break from tradition, we are not naming a 2020 Charles L. Weltner Freedom of Information honoree because of the unparalleled circumstances of the pandemic. Instead, we are applauding those whose work has demonstrated the importance and power of First Amendment principles that are foundational to our democracy, particularly in this challenging year. During our virtual event, we will recognize as 2020 First Amendment heroes:
- The Supreme Court of Georgia for vision, preparation and leadership that have allowed courts in our state to remain operational and open to the public during the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic.
- The late state Rep. Jay Powell for ushering an expansion of Georgia’s Sunshine Laws through the General Assembly in 2012. The resulting laws improved citizens’ access to their government and established a legal framework for the virtual public meetings that have become so essential this year.
- Nineteen-year-old community organizer and activist Zoe Bambara, who leveraged our right “peaceably to assemble” by helping organize protests in late May calling for an end to police brutality and discrimination. The protests raised awareness and sparked change; two months later, Georgia’s first hate crimes law took effect.
We also will preview the foundation’s legislative agenda for the 2021 General Assembly session; celebrate the life and legacy of the late U.S. Rep. John Lewis, a former Weltner Award honoree; and pay tribute to long-serving foundation member Tom Budlong, who died this year.
In addition, we’ll auction a one-of-a-kind cartoon from Pulitzer Prize-winning Atlanta Journal-Constitution editorial cartoonist Mike Luckovich — framed and ready to hang on your wall.
Bonus training event: Law Enforcement and the First Amendment
Recordings of police activities have become catalysts for change. How does the First Amendment protect citizens’ right to record police on the job? What rights do the public and the media have to access video from officer body cams and other official sources? What are the rules of non-engagement when journalists and citizens record police in action? How do free speech rights come into play in encounters between the public and police? On the panel:
- Vic Reynolds, Director, Georgia Bureau of Investigation
- Zoe Bambara, Community Organizer & Activist
- Sarah Brewerton-Palmer, First Amendment Attorney, Caplan Cobb LLP
- Clare Norins, Director, First Amendment Clinic, UGA School of Law
- Gerry Weber, First Amendment Attorney, Gerry Weber LLC and Southern Center for Human Rights
Register now for this free hour-long training event at 1 p.m. on Oct. 9.
Your support matters more than ever
Our annual Weltner event is the greatest source of regular financial support for the foundation. 2020 has highlighted the crucial role our organization plays in protecting and expanding the public’s right to know in Georgia. We’ve educated elected officials on keeping meetings accessible to the public during the pandemic. We’ve pushed for greater transparency in public health data. We have helped journalists understand their rights when covering protests. And we have called for police departments across the state to adopt Citizens’ Right to Record policies.
This is all possible because of backing from our members and donors. Here are three ways you can support the foundation today:
- GFAF members have free access to both our Weltner celebration on Oct. 15 and our Law Enforcement and the First Amendment training event on Oct. 9. Become a member.
- Buy a $50 ticket to our 2020 Weltner event and also receive free access to the Oct. 9 training session.
- Donate to support our work to protect and expand Georgians’ right to know.
We look forward to seeing you online for our 2020 Weltner events!