30-year-old photos of sheriff in KKK garb surface
by Megan Thornton
mthornton@cherokeetribune.com
June 23, 2012 12:00 AM | 8583 views | 35 35 comments | 23 23 recommendations | email to a friend | print
CANTON — Photographs of Cherokee County Sheriff Roger Garrison in a Ku Klux Klan costume taken at a Halloween party 30 years ago surfaced Friday on a metro television newscast.

Garrison said Friday he regrets the decision he made when he was 21 years old and that the photos were of a costume that was intended to be a spoof on a character from the movie “Blazing Saddles,” a popular motion picture at the time.

“This is by no means a reflection upon my career… or personal beliefs,” Garrison said. “It was a simple, childish Halloween costume party — nothing more, nothing less.”

He said the move feels like a political attack from his opposition, David Waters, a commander with the Forsyth County Sheriff’s Office.

“It appears Mr. Waters has sent those photos to the Atlanta media and asked for stories,” Garrison said. “I’m deeply appalled he would stoop to this level (and) that he chooses not to stick to the issues.”

Garrison said he found it especially appalling Waters was trying to make a moral judgment when his challenger has been married five times.

“(He) is not one to be throwing stones at other people,” Garrison said. “It’s clearly an act of desperation on his part and I believe that the voters will respond accordingly. They’re sick of that type of campaigning.”

Garrison said Cherokee County voters know the honor and integrity he has continued to display throughout his 20 years as sheriff.

“It’s just the lowest of the low to try to imply something of that nature from a costume makeup party (that happened) 30 years ago. (Waters) has much greater character issues he needs to explain with his five marriages and lack of commitment,” Garrison said.

In the end, Garrison said he can’t help but take it personally, calling it a “clear, shining example” of Waters’ character.

“I’m thick-skinned, but stuff like this hurts my wife and my son and my parents, that’s what bothers me about it,” Garrison said. “To have family see those things that he puts out and he is attempting to imply, that hurts them and that hurts me.”

Garrison said he did not know who published the photograph.

In the television news report, Waters denied providing the metro media outlet with a copy of the photograph though admitted to seeing the photo in June of last year.

Several attempts to reach Waters were not returned by press time.

Comments
(35)
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Common Tater
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July 04, 2012
Coming late to this discussion. Doesn’t anyone want to know who the other “costumer” in the picture is?
Woodstocker
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June 28, 2012
Looks like the work of Bill Dewrell and Robert Trimm
chuck D
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June 27, 2012
Congratulations Sherriff, you made national news. Hope you have the decency to drop out of the race before this gets out of hand and Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton start marching down Main Street.
Just Me
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June 27, 2012
That's just ridiculous.
Fed up
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June 27, 2012
I'm embarrassed to be from the county. Not because of this story, but because of the reaction to it. Issue after issue that face this county run by this site all the time without even a single response. We're about to vote on another tax increase that is getting almost no coverage. Not a word from most of you and then you crawl out of your hole to post on this nothing story? 32 response so far on this? Are you folks that easy to distract with red herring stories like this so you don't question the issues that really matter? America is doomed if this is all we have left.
Natica
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June 26, 2012
Roger is the best Sheriff Cherokee has ever had. He brought the Office forward and hired the best. He surrounded himself with smart people. It was such a relief to replace Seay...
doubt in mind
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June 26, 2012
That is a real kkk outfit, just saying.
LAUGHING21345
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June 27, 2012
and what halloween costume ISNT 'real' ...? my goodness! I am just smacking my head against pavement here trying to udnerstand some of these posts! some of you are REALLY mis-informed! It makes me so sad. I hope that those of you still upset of that 16yr old got a chance to watch the news footage he recorded himself... and then don't call 911 and use our deputies when you yourself need them, since they suck so badly!
1 Question
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June 26, 2012
One question for the sheriff (can't believe he wasn't asked this already):

Where did you get the costume?

That is not some pillow cover and sheet pulled from momma's closet. It looks like the real deal KKK uniform. All he needed was a burning cross to be completely authentic.
scallywag
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June 26, 2012
As evil or politically incorrect it might be to wear a KKK regalia, photos to that effect taken some time ago don’t necessarily inform us of anything. Of course if the uniform was worn around other men wearing the same outfit yes we might have reason to be concerned, but at a Halloween party? Isn’t that what Halloween parties are about in the first place, to dress like the demon you wish to be or detest?

http://scallywagandvagabond.com/2012/06/georgia-sheriff-up-for-re-elections-suddenly-has-photos-of-him-in-kkk-costume-leaked/
Concerned Voter
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June 25, 2012
I agree with what another commented on another page---- "What fool, 21 years old or not, decides to dress up as a member of a terrorist organization? It's not funny, and it highlights a horrid and unspeakable time in our not too distant past. Would you dress up as a 9/11 bomber? It's the exact same thing." If it's not a big deal, then why would his family be embarrassed? And I think it shows a lot for David to admit that he saw the pic last year and did nothing about it. David doesn't pay dirty politics. He did nothing with the pic. If someone else did, then that's on them. Just like the signs- Roger didn't shoot arrows in signs, so why should he blamed for it? No one's blaming him for that and David shouldn't be blamed for these pics.
Lives in county
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June 25, 2012
I really don't understand why the sheriff's track record in office doesn't stand for itself. Why is the news (local and Atl) reporting on this when over at the Tax Commissioner's Office there really seems like there is some ethical and legal laws being broke.
Dirty Pool
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June 25, 2012
What a low blow. Mr. Waters you admitted it yourself that you had knowledge of these photos for over a year.. How convienent that they just came out a month before the primary. Don't pack up your dog catching net just yet.
Concerned4Cherokee
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June 25, 2012
What gives you any reason to doubt David when he says he didn't turn these photos in? I've known about the photos since November when I met a lady who lives in Pickens. She was at that party and she worked with Roger. She said she was going to make sure the media had the pics before the election to show what kind of man Roger was. How do you know I didn't get the picture and submit it on her behalf because I can't stand Roger and the things he does behind closed doors (take that as you wish). Don't judge someone you don't know!!

When you refer to David as a "dog catcher" just remember what Roger was doing before he was a sheriff, and remember how much experience he had with all the procedures of running a sheriff's department. If you compare Roger's "before Sheriff" experience to David's "before Sheriff" experience, I'd say David DEFINATELY has the upper hand!
FORMER RESIDENT
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June 25, 2012
Party on Garth! Lol
No more mud
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June 24, 2012
If you ever wonder why good people won't run for office we can look at people like David Waters crawling out from under his rock to sling mud and out right lies to win an election and we will have our answer.

I don't think there is a person out there that can honestly say they didn't make a mistake or do something silly when they were 21 years old.

Waters can't win on the issues or the experience and certainly not the integrity so he does what comes natural to him being down in the gutter. Sheriff Garrison has more integrity in his little pinkie than Waters has in his whole body.
GrannyCares
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June 24, 2012
This should be a warning to young people and the items they post on FACEBOOK, and other social media. You never know where life will take you. A small joke or indiscretion today -- which sounds funny at the moment, may preclude you from pursuing a life's dream ten, twenty or thirty years from now. Once posted, YOU CANNOT GET IT BACK!
bo duke
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June 24, 2012
The canton police chief was over matched should have been a regular cop in a car. I dont blame for the sheriff to show the world this on the news. I will say it once again look at the sheriffs office in cumming it is a sinking ship with problems a mile long. Cherokee county dosen't need this. Waters is a big wheel over there and would bring that here
Mekhong Kurt
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June 24, 2012
Oh, goody goody! He was a youthful 21 years old and it never occurred to him that such a "Halloween" KKK kostume was just a silly decision he now wishes he had never made.

I bet he does.

His website pegs him as 49, or 28 years older than when he did this. It *also says he has been in law enforcement 30 years. Somebody correct my arithmetic if it needs it, but when I count on my fingers and do some ciphering, I keep getting that he had already BEEN in law enforcement two years when he did this. A GEORGIA lawman didn't think a KKK outfit might, just might, deeply offend some -- including other whites? Really? REALLY???

WHOA! Stop the Press! Flash headline! "Ten Minutes Ago His Website Said he's 49 Years Old! -- but NOW Says he's 52!"

How CONVENIENT! That means the "prank" happened a year BEFORE he became a lawman! Lawdy me -- do wonders never cease!

http://www.cherokeega-sheriff.org/

I sure do wish I had taken a screen shot of the page the FIRST time I checked it. Damn.
Another Observer
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June 24, 2012
Also keep in mind Blazing Saddles came out in 1974 - nearly 10 years prior to this party. The movie was funny and controversial for its time, but it definitely was not "popular" at the time of this party.

"I don't deny it wasn't stupid" doesn't come off as being very apologetic, even this many years later.
ConcernedForCherokee
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June 24, 2012
It still says 49...
Concerned citizen
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June 24, 2012
that just proves you don't know the person you are trying to criticize. If you REALLY knew him, you would know the true answers to what you are asking. I would just suggest that before you make yourself look incompetent, know the facts, know the person you are slinging assumptions at.... JUST SAYIN'
laughing21345
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June 25, 2012
it still says 49 you ding a ling... are you david waters himself haha
bo duke
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June 23, 2012
I wonder how much more mud is going to get slung in this race. Shame on Waters just look at the sheriffs office in cumming It a sinking ship and he is a top man in it. Shame on Garrison for doing something so dumd 30 years ago the kkk is not funny even in movies or at a halloween party
anonymous
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June 24, 2012
Sir you are missing the point. This is not funny but horrifying.
ConcernedCherokeeCitizen
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June 23, 2012
First of all,I will say for a fact David Waters DID NOT give this information! And really?? Roger is appalled that David would go to this level and not stick to the issues, yet in the same story HE'S attacking David about being married numerous times! Double standard if i do say myself!

Look at the picture voters. This isn't some homemade costume and you can't just buy one one the shelves at Walmart during Halloween. The only reason Roger has been Sheriff so many times is because he's never had decent competition. Now its here and its time for Cherokee to REALLY become a GREAT place where citizens really do want to live, work and play!
Joy Knox
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June 23, 2012
This is dirty politics!! Sheriff Garrison has done a great job for Cherokee County! He has character and there is no blemis on his record. He has improved our county and our communities. I hope Waters does not get the job because this is absolutely Dirty. To go to a Halloween Party you can choose just about anything. This is outrageous!
CherokeeVoter
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June 24, 2012
ask the 16 year old kid in Eagle Watch about the great job Garrison has done.
laughing21345
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June 25, 2012
i agree... i dont want to live in a community where a dirty person like waters is working! he disgusts me! who really cares what a CHILD wore to a costume a COSTUME party over 2 decades ago! sheesh. he is just scared that he is not in the lead.
nobody you know
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June 23, 2012
In Cherokee county this will help him win more votes.
Kitty Sue
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June 23, 2012
From what I understand Garrison at the time of this photograph was working in law enforcement in some capacity. Whether you were imitating a movie or not, this is not a costume that should be worn by anyone especially someone in law enforcement.

I understand from the story on WSB that David Waters did not release the photos and I would have to believe that he is telling the truth. Just like I believe that Sheriff Garrison is probably now sorry for wearing this costume.

If Sheriff Garrison does not want to throw stones, then why did he throw a stone in this story. He says that David Waters has been married 5 times. I have someone that is very close to me that has been married 5 times and I know this person is not a bad person because it is my Mom. Her choices just have not been good ones.

If Garrison wants to talk about his family being hurt, how about what he did to Chief Lance and his family. He goes to WSB and questions the leadership at the City of Canton Police Department which resulted in Chief Lance being asked to resign. What does he think he did to those two precious children of Chief Lance's???

The issues are that we need the best protection for the wonderful citizens in Cherokee County.
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