Three days ago, in the aftermath of the forced eviction of Occupy Atlanta from Woodruff Park, longtime civil rights leader Joe Beasley, the Southern director of Rainbow/PUSH, denounced Mayor Kasim Reed as an “unchristian” throwback who ought to be removed from office.
Beasley has befriended the movement, and was among the 52 arrested early Wednesday for refusing to clear out.
But a message just arrived from Rainbow/Push’s headquarters, putting a great deal of distance between the organization and Beasley’s harsh comments.
“Joe was not speaking on behalf of Rainbow or (founder) Jesse Jackson,” said vice-president Janice Mathis in a quick phone interview. “We love and admire and respect Joe. But the positions he was taking with Occupy Atlanta were not our positions.”
Here’s a healthy dose of the her statement, advising Occupy Atlanta not to pick a fight with the mayor:
The Occupy Movement is less than two months old. Its goals – fairer distribution of income, more meaningful regulation of banks and other global corporate interests, fairer criminal and civil justice systems, more consumer protections – are worthy, even noble.
But they won’t come from the mere act of occupying Woodruff Park or any other space. Eventually, those goals will be achieved (if at all) with a focused, peaceful, strategic effort to influence policy makers and others. It is unlikely that financial institutions or the Koch brothers will sui sponte reform the excesses that have up-ended the lives of so many Americans until there is sufficient pressure from consumers, regulators, shareholders or employees.
If the Occupy Movement devolves into name-calling and bickering over where to pitch the tents, they could miss the best opportunity that progressive forces have had in a long time to achieve significant movement toward a more just society.
In a state where both U.S. senators proudly voted against health care reform, where Leonard Drane is facing the death penalty for a murder to which someone else confessed, where homeowners have no right to a hearing prior to foreclosure, the Legislature recently considered authorizing the death penalty on a non-unanimous jury vote, where hard-earned lottery dollars are doled out to the scion of wealthy families, targeting Mayor Reed seems wasteful and naïve.
The Twitter, by the by, declares that Occupy Atlanta intends to return to Woodruff Park for a “general assembly” at 8 p.m. today.
- By Jim Galloway, Political Insider