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Clifvonne Webb (left), a graduated biology major from McDonough, Georgia, embraces Noora Chandasir (right), an international affairs major from Forsyth County, Georgia, during the University of Georgia Muslim Student Association vigil for the victims of the Christchurch shootings on Monday, March 18, 2019 at Tate Plaza in Athens, Georgia. Students gathered in remembrance of the 50 people killed at a mosque and an Islamic Center in Christchurch, New Zealand on Friday, March 15, 2019. (Photo/Christina R. Matacotta, crmatacotta@gmail.com)

Inaugural St. Patrick’s Day festival boosts downtown sales

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Green-clad students and adults celebrate at Centro Bar during the first-ever Athens St. Patrick's Day Festival on March 17, 2019. The festival included a bar crawl from 4 p.m. to 2 a.m. (Photo/ Taylor Gerlach)

In the span of two months, Southern Festivals Management was able to pull off Athens’ first annual St. Patrick’s Day Festival. The last-minute effort didn’t stop businesses in the festival’s path on Clayton Street from profiting — some almost doubling their normal Sunday profits.

An estimated 5,000-10,000 people attended the festival, said Mitchell Jordan, owner of Southern Festivals Management. Businesses from bars to restaurants reported increased sales and packed establishments due to the festival.

The festival was funded solely from Jordan’s pocket. In the future, the festival can apply to receive funding from Athens-Clarke County. The festival missed the deadline to apply for ACC funding this year, but Jordan said he plans to continue hosting the event.


Racist video triggers suspension of UGA fraternity, expulsion of members from chapter

Four University of Georgia students who appeared in a video where racial slurs were used were expelled from the UGA chapter of the fraternity Tau Kappa Epsilon on March 23. The chapter, Xi-Lambda, was also temporarily suspended by the national organization because of the video.

After the video surfaced on social media on March 22, the university, TKE Professional Staff and members of the UGA chapter began an investigation into the actions of the students in the video, where it was found that the video didn’t take place on chapter premises.

UGA President Jere W. Morehead expressed "how profoundly disappointed and appalled" he is by the content of the video in a statement released March 23.


Missing Athens residents found dead in Gwinnett County

Derrick Ruff, Joshua Jackson missing persons

The Athens Clarke County Police Department is looking for Derrick Davion Ruff and Joshua Lee Jackson, who were reported missing on Dec. 20 and Dec. 21, respectively. 

A three-month search for missing Athens residents Joshua Jackson and Derrick Ruff came to an end on March 17 when police found their bodies in Gwinnett County, the Athens-Clarke County Police Department announced in a press release.

The Gwinnett County Police Department is investigating the case as a homicide, with ACCPD assisting in the investigation. Jackson and Ruff were last seen together on Dec. 18. The Athens-Clarke County and Gwinnett County police departments searched approximately 100 acres in Gwinnett County since they were reported missing in December.

Ruff was reported missing on Dec. 20 and Jackson was reported missing Dec. 21. The vehicle the men were last seen in together was found in an isolated area of a neighborhood in Gwinnett County.


UGA Muslim Student Association holds vigil for Christchurch shooting victims

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Two students embrace during the University of Georgia Muslim Student Association vigil for the victims of the Christchurch shootings on Monday, March 18, 2019 at Tate Plaza in Athens, Georgia. Students gathered in remembrance of the 50 people killed at a mosque and an Islamic Center in Christchurch, New Zealand on Friday, March 15, 2019. (Photo/Christina R. Matacotta, crmatacotta@gmail.com)

The UGA Muslim community took time on March 18 to remember the victims of a deadly March 15 terrorist attack on Muslims in New Zealand.

The shootings in Christchurch, New Zealand at two different mosques killed at least 50 people and injured another 50, many of whom are still in intensive care. This terrorist attack, which was live-streamed on Facebook Live, became the deadliest mass shooting in the history of New Zealand.

Muhammad Saud, a junior finance and real estate major and the vice president of MSA, said planning the vigil was an all hands on deck situation to quickly organize the event after news of the attack became known.

Multiple speakers, including MSA President Sarah Atamna and SGA Vice President Charlene Marsh, addressed the crowd at Tate Plaza. The names of the victims of the attack were read as attendees listened in silence.

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