I will have misjudged Kasim Reed if he allows this to happen again tonight (from the AJC):
The activists encamped at Woodruff Park plan to leave Tuesday afternoon for a protest march to a downtown Atlanta bank headquarters, but vowed in an e-mail to return to the park and remain there “for as long as it takes.”
The group’s vow to stay at the park comes after being told Monday night that they were violating city rules prohibiting remaining in city parks after 11 p.m. …
Late Tuesday morning, the number of protesters at the park had dwindled to around 75, with several dozen tents still pitched on the park’s grass. Those remaining on Tuesday morning were low-key, not chanting or carrying the protest signs that were seen on Monday.
An anticipated showdown between the protesters and police never materialized, as authorities made no effort to forcibly remove the group.
“We’re allowing the protesters the opportunity to leave the park peacefully,” Candace Byrd, Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed’s chief of staff, said Monday night.
But no deadline was given at the impromptu press conference, and overnight police presence around the park was minimal. …
It’s uncertain how long the city will allow the group to stay. Byrd said officials held two meetings Monday with protest organizers to inform them of ordinances preventing “urban camping.”
Reed is as politically astute as any elected official from Georgia. Surely, he knows that it’s one thing to show some forbearance before telling the likes of the Occupy Atlanta folks to go home — and another thing altogether to watch them flout the law after being informed of it and given a chance to comply willingly.
Surely, that is, Reed knows that he can’t be seen by his constituents as unable or unwilling to enforce such a basic law.
Between the group’s brushing off Congressman John Lewis and taking advantage of Reed’s exceeding patience once already, I can’t imagine that forcing the group to leave would cause Reed nearly as many problems as letting them ignore him.
And if the group’s “leaders” can’t trust the protesters to show up again tomorrow if they have to go home tonight, well, I guess they don’t have much of a movement.
– By Kyle Wingfield