Friday, October 28, 2011

Shadow of MLK

Occupy Atlanta has announced a one night only relocation to the Martin Luther King Jr. National Historic Site in Georgia, and temporarily taking operations out of the jurisdiction of Mayor Kasim Reed. In the youtube below, Joe Beasley, of the Joe Beasley Foundation and southern regional director for Rainbow Push, speaks to activists by the Mahatma Gandhi statue in the park.

Apparently, Mayor Reed's surprising About Face in evicting occupiers from Troy Davis Park, was not so surprising to those who know him best in Atlanta and consider him a lackey for corporate interests.

Namely, Joe Beasley (among others) who also speaks here to Atlanta radio show host Rob Redding concerning the Atlanta police raid
12:45 A.M. Tuesday where 52 activists were arrested under Mayor Reed's orders and following what appeared to be a controversial visit by a group of clergy.  Activist La'Die Mansfield met with clergy indicating to media that the mayor was attempting to use them as cover;  she also clearly, rationally, and very firmly conveyed Occupy Atlanta's commitment to non-violent social change.

At that time, Mayor Reed declared that the occupiers were not listening to the clergy (absurd in any case since clergy have no authority under the First Amendment) and that this constituted his (more or less) last straw, and reason for throwing them out following a peaceful concert in which he berated them for not having a permit.  At the event, activists also blocked police from removing a generator Ms. Mansfield described as a smaller model frequently used throughout Atlanta during sport events (and that Reed, I would guess, attends without seeing an issue in those numerous cases).

During the interview, Mr.Beasley says Mayor Reed told a "blatant, bald-faced lie" that clergy were backing him - and were even at his office - when Richard Cobble, President of Concerned Black Clergy, among others, were back in the park with Occupy Atlanta activists at the time.

Richard Cobble is seen here - at Old Sauk River - in an Atlanta television news clip in which a number of community leaders speak out at Troy Davis Park. Mr. Cobble speaks passionately on behalf of Occupy Atlanta's continued presence at the site. He opposes the eviction and he eloquently calls upon the entire nation to come down to Atlanta to support the movement, if necessary.

Demonstraters released from jail this morning are now called The First 52.  Those first 52 Occupy Atlanta activists arrested and cuffed include Joe Beasley, State Senator Vincent D. Fort, and former Atlanta city councilman Derrick Boazman. More below in the photo, waiting for their court appearance.  La'Die Mansfield is center front in a striped blouse. 

Courtesy of Atlanta News/AJC
Occupy Atlanta Activists Wait For Court

Senator Fort and Mr. Boazman also speak out on the Atlanta television news clip viewable at the earlier blog post.

And Joe Beasley can be heard on Atlanta radio WABE here, too.

In his Redding News Review interview, Mr. Redding asks Mr. Beasley about an earlier statement that Mayor Reed "must not be a Christian because if he was he would know that if the clergy come out here they would have to be on the side of the people that’s occupying this because they’re talking about justice and they’re talking about equity."

Mr. Beasley responds: "Well, I certainly stand by those words because that’s not only in the Holy Bible but in all of religious faith – how you treat the poor and oppressed and the stranger amongst us. I think for many religious faiths’ point of view – firmly, the God that you happen to know – if it’s Christ or whomever - comes down on the side of the oppressed and the poor. And that is exactly what this occupy movement is doing across the world. And what we’re talking about – I don’t think the Mayor realizes that – is global systemic change. And I believe we’re not going to accept anything short of that."

Mr. Redding also references a statement by Derrick Boazman that Mayor Reed is acting like Bull Conner and asks Mr. Beasley what he thinks. He agrees, describing Conner as a tyranical chief of police, and the head of the Atlanta police department, George Turner, as a thoughtful man taking orders from a tyrant - that is, Mayor Reed.

Joe Beasley calls for Kasim Reed's ouster on the basis of the mayor's poor judgment and massive abuse of taxpayer money when there is no imminent threat. He points out that Reed was elected by a very narrow margin of less than 700 votes. Mr. Beasley has picked up an application recall which needs 100 signatures. Then he plans to distribute recall petitions which require 10% of the people who voted in the last election.

As he states in the youtube above, to applause and cheers, they have obtained the 100 signatures since the interview.

Since the Occupy Atlanta ouster from Troy Davis Park, Mayor Reed is referencing a man with an AK-47 walking around the park. Although he did not publicly mention this incident prior to the eviction, he now asserts that the presence of this individual about the park constituted a main reason for the eviction, along with what he perceived as a growing radicalism in the crowd.

I searched the internet for more information about this mysterious character with the AK-47 or something similar - which I discovered is legal to openly carry in Atlanta (and that, I think, should concern the Mayor more than a movement to end homelessness).

Weird too because it was challenging to find information to substantiate the claim although some media sources freely reported it following the mayor's statement. One site even linked to alleged sources a few times - but when I went to the links - nothing. One news site did have a photograph of a weapon on someone's hip - but the photograph did not show the setting in the park - i.e. it could have been anyone anywhere. A number of posters said, something to the effect, so where's the guy with ak-47?

On I trudged through the internet. Finally, I discovered an Occupy Atlanta Live Stream recording (shown below) which contains an activist's conversation with the rumored gun character starting about 17 minutes in. There he is - eerily calm with his gun - sociopathically perhaps? And .. he keeps making these hedged invitations for others to come down .. I imagine he doesn't mean other occupiers either since he is holding a sign that says he doesn't agree with the protesters though he respects their right to free speech (for the time being?) .. But hey, his gun is completely legal so Mayor Reed doesn't have to have him thrown out? Yet everyone else has to go?

I guess anyone with a gun in Atlanta can walk into a demonstration, stand there chatting, and give any mayor the authority to tear down the First Amendment?

To make it stranger yet (I'm not in Texas), the Occupy Atlanta activist walks about the entire park videographing occupation tents and evening activities, including a group of police officers standing fairly close to this man with his obvious shoulder slung weapon, and without even watching him. The videographer even points him out to the police so you know for sure.  Hardly a model of the mayor's concern for public safety because of this individual.

Meanwhile, the park Mayor Reed is so concerned about is (otherwise) peaceful and clean. An activist is even collecting trash. A few people are chatting here and there.  A few others strum guitars and sing.  The exact opposite of what he described.

Yet they moved these folks out with an army  In the recording, the videographer shows you the police moving into position while a helicopter flies overhead.

Again, the live stream recording below - with Mayor Reed's other excuse besides clergy starting about 17 minutes.  

To state the obvious, after viewing, I guess the Mayor's office didn't use this video - the only apparent evidence backing his claim - because the evidence also shows that his office did not care about this individual's presence in the park; they knew where he was when he implied otherwise - i.e. that some lunatic was at large, so they shut down the park.  (He even used Andrew Young as an excuse - that this man was standing next to Andrew Young.)  The video also shows they were already moving in to close the park in later minutes narrated by the videographer; hence, more evidence that the individual with a gun was not why he closed the park.  Last, but not least, the video shows how peacefully and non-violently persons were occupying, contrary to further assertions when he sent this virtual troop as if park goers constitute an enormous threat. Except for the helicopter, an unusual number of police, and whatever you want to make of this other character "waxing second amendment," and whom the police knowingly do not remove, it looks like any quiet evening in an urban park where people are exercising their First Amendment right to freedom of assembly.  Not only does Mayor Reed need to read his Henry David Thoreau, he needs to read his U.S. Constitution that he is sworn to uphold and defend.

Watch live streaming video from occupyatlanta at

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