Occupy Atlanta Day 4: Police Showdown

Coverage of day one can be found here.

Day two can be found here.

I missed day three because of a barbecue.

I showed up for #OccupyAtlanta’s fourth day of protesting at six o’clock, thinking that would be when the General Assembly began, just like every other day. It didn’t however, and when I asked around no one (including the people working at the “Welcome Committee” table) knew for what time it was scheduled.

I counted up the tents as I waited around; I’m happy to report there were forty-two tents set up, and Woodruff Troy Davis Park actually appeared to be occupied.

The General Assembly began at 7:09, and the first order of business was deciding how to respond to a credible rumor that the police would be evicting the occupiers from the park at eleven under a city ordinance regarding public park curfews. Apparently a city council member informed the occupiers that Mayor Kasim Reed was going to sic the police on the occupiers at 11.

The various committees made their announcements, but everything in the General Assembly was rushed through to discuss how the movement would respond to the police threat. I have to say, this was the best moderated General Assembly I’d been to thus far, and this with a crowd larger than Saturday’s, although smaller than Friday’s. I think #OccupyAtlanta is solidifying as a movement run by Millenials, and as time goes on more of them come out from the woodwork. They impressed me; it seems like the police threat backfired and innervated #OccupyAtlanta

One note: The Metro Atlanta Task Force for the Homeless made an announcement in solidarity with #OccupyAtlanta. The Task Force runs the Peachtree Vines Homeless Shelter, and will be evicted within the next month so that their building can be sold for storefronts/condos/whatever.

At 7:34 the crowd began discussing whether they would continue occupying the park or if they would cede to the APD if asked to leave.

At 9:00 a consensus was reached to continue occupying the park. Occupy Atlanta moved their tents in a tight cluster, and a group of people who were willing to be arrested would form a circle in the center of the park and link their arms together. Those not willing to be arrested would observe and chant from the sidewalks (I was part of this group, as were most people).

A member of the Atlanta Teamster’s union was present to show solidarity with the occupiers. He said that the president of the Atlanta Teamsters contacted Kasim Reed, asking him not to arrest the occupiers, and Kasim Reed responded, “They leave me no choice.” This dude, like the teamsters, was pretty shady, and I’m skeptical that Kasim Reed offered such a hackneyed response.

At 10 the several cops showed up for an unrelated kerfuffle between some people who were either homeless or very drunk, or perhaps both. This set the crowd on edge.

My notes say that at 10, there were about 25 people willing to be arrested, and 25 that would be standing on the sidewalk. The sidewalk crowd swelled to between one and two-hundred by 11, not to mention a good number of standers-by watching from the sidewalks opposite the park.

The media was in abundance, with camera crews from Channel 2 and Channel 11 getting feisty with some of the protesters who did not want to be filmed. There were ten or more indymedia/bloggers/youtube channel owners with their SLR cameras, video cameras, and laptops filming everything as well.

Douchebag of the night goes to a scuzzy man working for 100.5 The Rock, who I saw interviewing homeless people and leading them on to talk shit about the occupiers.

The runner-up Douchebag was a kid in a Georgia Tech jacket holding up a sign that said, “We demand free iPhones for the homeless.” I’ll give him the smug Republican award.

A Fox News reporter was also present. He gets the “Dumbest shit I made up to make you look bad” award. He showed an occupier a slip of paper with something racist written on it, and asked her if “This didn’t prove the movement was far more racist than the Tea Party.” The woman called bullshit, ripped up the paper in front of him, and ate it. Good for her.

At 11 the police didn’t show up, and I wondered if the whole thing hadn’t been manufactured by the movement’s leaders (because that’s what they are, their self-disdain for titles notwithstanding) to buoy the #OccupyAtlanta’s flagging energy.

I was wrong. At 11:30 Atlanta’s Commissioner for Parks and Recreation showed up with several hundred pieces of paper printed with the ordinances the occupiers were violating. The media swarmed him, as did the sidewalk crowd, but when it became apparent he didn’t have anything to say the crowd ignored him.

The sidewalk crowd marched around the outsides of the park, and I saw a prison bus and at least four squad cars drive past the park and up a nearby street. At about 12, police officers (I’m not sure how many, Creative Loafing says 25 and that sounds good to me) fanned out around the park. The sidewalk crowd chanted and banged on plastic buckets, while the to-be arrested sat peacefully in their circle. After about fifteen minutes the police withdrew, and that was the last I saw of them for the rest of the night.

After the police left, some police Bigwig came to talk to the media. I couldn’t hear what he had to say because of the noise the crowd made.

A new General Assembly was called, moderated by “Tim,” a white guy, and a non-white-ethnicity-but-no-way-am-I-going-to-guess-what girl who seems to have found her calling as a rabble-rouser. I’d seen her on Saturday (and I’m not sure about Friday), but it didn’t appear she had a leadership role. On Monday night she seized the moment, and led the sidewalk crowd (who were jubilant, by the way) around the park. She also had my favorite sign of the night.

It read:

We deserve an economic system that meets human needs, reduces economic inequality, shrinks the income gap, and doesn’t reward decisions that have a negative impact on society.

Polite and to the point, although the phrase about shrinking the income gap just repeats the premise of the previous phrase.

There was a rumor (I’m not sure from where it originated) that Kasim Reed was heading to the park and would be addressing the General Assembly. The GA agreed to allow him to speak (but following the GA’s process, so people would have a chance to respond to him directly), and spent the next hour-and-a-half debating what demands, if any, they would make of the Mayor. The only one on which consensus was reached was asking him to allow the occupiers to continue protesting peacefully without police interference.

In the middle of this Assembly, some guy from New York rambled for about five minutes about what he thought had made #OccupyWallstreet so successful. It was a bunch of “You need to be like a tree, with a strong trunk and thick branches” variety, and the GA listened in respectful bemusement.

At about 2 in the morning it became clear the Mayor would not, in fact, be coming, the GA was adjourned, and I went home.

Some other points:

John Lewis has been invited and agreed to speak to the General Assembly when he returns from Washington, D.C., i.e. some time this weekend.

Today at 4:00 people will be gathering in Troy Davis Park to march on the Bank of America building in Midtown. CNN will apparently be covering the protests.

And finally: I don’t think it came across in this post, but protesting is exhilarating, especially when it feels like you’ve achieved something, even if that something is not getting arrested. Anyone reading this should go check out #OccupyAtlanta, because it appears to finally be getting its sealegs.

    • Wanda Tipton
    • October 17th, 2011

    [This comment has been deleted for trollery.]

  1. October 12th, 2011

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