Kasim Reed, Occupy Atlanta, and a fresh wave of history

Derrick Younge of Atlanta holds a sign next to Occupy Atlanta leader Tim Franzen, left, during a press conference at Woodruff Park discussing their next move Thursday afternoon in Atlanta. Jason Getz, jgetz@ajc.com.

Derrick Younge of Atlanta holds a sign next to Occupy Atlanta leader Tim Franzen, left, during a press conference at Woodruff Park discussing their next move Thursday afternoon in Atlanta. Jason Getz, jgetz@ajc.com.

Fifty years ago, when Shirley Franklin was still a high school teenager, she slipped away from her Philadelphia bed – without telling her mother – for an anti-nuke march on the Pentagon.

The biographical tidbit is necessary to any assessment of last week’s decision by Mayor Kasim Reed, Franklin’s successor, to clear Occupy Atlanta and its tents from a downtown park – and send the bonded-out protesters against corporate greed and economic disparity on a nomadic trek across the city, like some Lost Tribe of Ishmael.

Atlanta may not have realized the implications at the time, but the city crossed a generational divide when Reed was elected two years ago. Born in 1969, he is the first mayor in nearly 40 years who did not spring from a culture of protest.

However inevitable, it was not a fact that some were willing to ignore last week.

“If he wants to be like Bull Connor, then so be it,” one of Reed’s elders, state Sen. Vincent Fort of Atlanta, said shortly before he and 51 others were arrested at the park.

To call up the specter of Birmingham was a vast – the mayor might argue slanderous — exaggeration. No injuries were reported Monday night. No fire hoses were turned on schoolchildren. No German shepherds were sicced on the defenseless. No skulls were cracked by batons. This wasn’t Alabama. It wasn’t even Oakland.

That said, Fort’s 48-year-old reference point was revealing. As was Reed last Monday, when he put Occupy Atlanta on 24-hour notice.

In front of reporters, the mayor first said grace over his city’s reputation for tolerance and the right to free speech. But Reed – a former music industry attorney – then drew on more recent history.

He pointed to a flawed hip-hop concert that Occupy Atlanta had attempted to stage at the small park. With inadequate security and radio spots that advertised at least one rapper whom concert promoters couldn’t deliver.

“You’ve had people killed in concerts where artists who were promised do not show up all across the country. This happens all the time,” Reed said. The mayor judged Occupy Atlanta to be a danger to themselves and nearby residents, and ordered the impromptu campground shut down.

The Occupy Atlanta decision may be the first real evidence that the city is being governed with its changing, more conservative demographic in mind.

In a recent post on “Blogging While Blue,” Democratic strategist Cabral Franklin, son of the former mayor, noted that the three of the four fastest-growing districts in the city were in downtown Atlanta, Midtown and Buckhead – “areas where people vote more conservatively.”

“Midtown in 2011 is not Midtown in 1990,” he said in an interview. Franklin’s assessment of Reed, who stands for re-election in 2013: “I don’t think he wanted the Occupy movement to be that one thing that he didn’t play right. I think he was trying to govern as close to the center as he possibly could.”

Criticism of Reed has been muted, but it exists. Eric Robertson, political director of Teamsters Local 278 and a Reed supporter, consulted with the mayor throughout the confrontation – and disagreed with the decision to resort to force.

“My hope is that we can get into some sort of dialogue where he can understand what’s happening with the movement,” Robertson said.

But if Reed is new to an era of protests, so is Occupy Atlanta. “There have absolutely been mistakes made,” Robertson said. His union members brought U.S. Rep. John Lewis to speak to the protesters in the first days of their occupation of Woodruff Park – only to see the civil rights icon turned away. “Disastrous,” he said.

Occupy Atlanta’s insistence on unanimous decisions paralyzed any attempts to give the movement a sharper focus that the public could latch onto, the union official said.

One of the more nuanced reactions to the removal of Occupy Atlanta came from Michael Julian Bond, a 10-year city councilman and son of ’60s activist Julian Bond.

“I really don’t know why the mayor didn’t act sooner. I believe in civil disobedience. I grew up in a household full of activists,” said the younger Bond. But he also represents the downtown residential district, and spoke of a recent neighborhood meeting.

While sympathetic to Occupy Atlanta, his constituents “pointed out a stark contradiction to me,” Bond said. After years of complaints, police only recently had swept aged, homeless black men out of the park.

“But when it’s twenty-something white kids, it’s allowed to go on. That kind of stuck with me,” he said. “If [police] had been allowed to go out on the first night when the park closed, there probably wouldn’t have been but about five or 10 people who were willing to go to jail that night, and the cost of it would have been considerably less.”

Bond also said Occupy Atlanta may have a rose-colored view of history. Arrest and jail are central points of civil disobedience, he said.

“I don’t know if that’s been forgotten over time, or just romanticized. But there were real arrests in Atlanta,” Bond said. The difference between Birmingham and Atlanta, he said, was how protesters were subsequently treated by police.

As for the prospect of growing conservatism in the city, Bond was unimpressed. “Atlanta’s always been a conservative place. We have a culture here that’s deeply rooted in church. Atlanta’s always had this very conservative undercurrent, even though – at the same time – it’s been very progressive mentally. But the values have been conservative,” he said.

- By Jim Galloway, Political Insider

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243 comments Add your comment

Centrist

October 29th, 2011
10:15 am

Mr. Jim Galloway couldn’t quite take even a weekend off from promoting the leftist “Occupy” mess.

Lighten up, don’t be so serious and politically biased – enjoy the weather and the football. Try writing about something different next week besides Occupy and ranting against Republicans – it might even lower your blood pressure.

Centrist

October 29th, 2011
10:22 am

Since Mr. Jim Galloway likes Herman Cain related humor – here’s one for you, buddy:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dSlC7BxmSqYhttp://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dSlC7BxmSqY

Independent voter

October 29th, 2011
10:38 am

Kasim Reed should have a private meeting with the occupy atlanta. Tell them the true why he have go by the law.

Corporate is really going to have Kasim lose the election 2013 because people are mad what going on in this city.

Ben Russell

October 29th, 2011
10:45 am

Lived in Metro Atlanta now for two years now, and felt Mr Reed was worthy of being mayor of this fair city. He certainly showed a side of himself with “Occupy Atlanta” that I was unaware of, and disappointed in. How can a Black man whose race was so mistreated turn around and behave just as those that were his persecutors? Lost a good deal of respect for the man.

Frederick Douglass

October 29th, 2011
10:51 am

Ben Russell

So is it fair to surmise that you really have some fundamental issues with Herman Cain?

the original and still the best John Galt

October 29th, 2011
10:54 am

Reed was scared by the man with an AK-47. Exercising one’s First Amendment rights is OK to Statists like Reed, but the exercise of Second Amendment rights is scary. That’s all it was.

oldfart

October 29th, 2011
10:57 am

It is a tale told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, signifying nothing.

Independent voter

October 29th, 2011
10:59 am

Ben Russell I was thinking the same way. Kasim seem like a angry black man who is for the corporate business in Atlanta. I bet the corporattion told Kasim get rid of the Occupy Atlanta at the park.
I had watch the news and seen helicopter following occupy atlanta wherever they go in the city.
This tell me about Kasim does not have anything else to do but harras the marchers.
Kasim need to have the helicopter flying over Ga Tech to protect the college kids from crime.

double

October 29th, 2011
11:03 am

The city has rules,regulations,laws.The mayor is bound by those laws whether they be black or white.To resolve the occupy without violence,he done well.

Independent voter

October 29th, 2011
11:03 am

That man with the AK-47 prolly was with the police dept it was setup to make occupy atlanta look bad so Kasim would have reason to mess with the protester.

alston

October 29th, 2011
11:09 am

The roots of civil disobedience that made it possible for Kasim Reed to be Mayor grew out ot the lunch counter sit-ins and the freedom rides. That is the era when the participating, heroic,activists –blacks and whites together– first shared equal rights. Unfortunately, those equal rights dosed out were the right to equally be arrested. To equally be beaten. To equally be firebombed. To equally be murdered. Perserverance in the struggle against the opposition of all white city hall officials and police departments all over the South is how now, in 2011, Kasim Reed is in the position to OCCUPY ATLANTA CITY HALL. He can use a big dose of history. He is under the control of the downtown power elites at CAP and the Chamber of Commerce, thus making a decision to “do it their way” and on the dime of the taxpayers pay for a military operation with a cast of thousands to arrest 54 peaceful people in the park who were sitting in a circle singing– and that could have been done with ten officers. During that operation, downtown traffic was snarled by street closures and our crime ridden neighborhoods were lacking police, since most of them were down at the park, the safest place in town since Occupy came along.

Eric Aslakson

October 29th, 2011
11:12 am

Stop harassing the Occupy protestors. The Mayor should be prosecuted for misuse of city funds to fly helicopters around harassing citizens exercising their rights. Last time I checked, there was a right of assembly guaranteed by the constitution!?! Perhaps the mayor, the police department, and the city council should all should read it to refresh their memory! And all this in the city that claims MLK!

Independent voter

October 29th, 2011
11:17 am

I voted for Kasim Reed last election and I know several of my friends in 2013 we not voting for him.
Kasim I dont trust the police dept because of the raid at a gay bar, police raid who kill a 92 year old lady. Marta police killing of a 19 year old. Kasim having police road block to gain money for the city.

Steve

October 29th, 2011
11:29 am

You don’t have to wait until 2012. It apparently is pretty easy to recall a sitting mayor in Atlanta. You only need 10% of the number of voters in the last election –doesn’t have to be the same voters, just registered voters– in Kasim’s case that would be 8400 (84,000 votes cast in 2009 mayoral election).

Look for a recall Mayor Reed petition near you.

Centrist

October 29th, 2011
11:48 am

Maybe you can get Mr. Jim Galloway and the rest of the AJC staff to promote a Mayor recall effort. That would seem to fit them both politically, and give them some sensational news to help with their advertising revenue.

Sonny LIED!

October 29th, 2011
11:49 am

I LIED, and everyone including Galloway knows it!

Rich

October 29th, 2011
11:53 am

All of these “Occupy AJC” commenters are nuttier than any old John Birchers. “CONSPIRACY”, they cry. “CORPORATE SELL-OUT”, they lament. How ’bout this? Bunch of anarchist, no-message, union-puppet, poser rabblerousers that felt like they could urinate on the sidewalks and endanger the public in the name of “protest”. Good for you, Mayor Reed. What took so long?

rotten

October 29th, 2011
11:54 am

Wow!
You have no clue. These were not protesters. These were law breakers who went past the normal definition of what the Constiution specifies. They were costing a fortune and getting nothing accomplished. I love how your liberal paper is making these spoiled whiners out to be heroes. They were not there to protest war, give people a vote, protect the unborn, or give people civil liberties.
Keep brainwashing…..It is only a matter of time that we will be behind the iron curtain that we despised thirty years ago.

yuzeyurbrane

October 29th, 2011
12:02 pm

What worries me is when I see Centrist and Kasim Reed on the same side.

zgoldatl

October 29th, 2011
12:04 pm

STOP supporting these losers and calling it journalism. There wasnt one arrest at any tea party nationally in the last 3 years. The occupy people are pathetic. I’m 25 years old, and I work my butt off 40 hours a week, and their daddies drop them off down there to protest capitalism. How do they think daddy bought them their iphones and computers? Its called capitalism. These people are a joke. They need to get a job. And I’m sick of the AJC acting so sympathetic towards these cowardly losers. I was in Washington Dc on 8-28-10, with 1 million fellow conservatives(more people attended than the” I have a dream” speech.), and the AJC and mainstream media didn’t pay as much attention as 60 want to be hippies in a park? Out of one million people, zero rapes, zero arrests, and we left the place nicer than we found it. Terrible journalism. I should cancel my subscription. Hey occupiers, get a life, and don’t you dare tread on me

Karen

October 29th, 2011
12:05 pm

Occupy shot itself in their foot or feet. No focus and just shoddy PR. The guy in the red stocking cap is a joke. And to turn away John Lewsi, you just threw credibility out the window. No leadership at all with Occupy which made them look like punks. So Mayor Reed did the right thing in this situation.

zgoldatl

October 29th, 2011
12:09 pm

Eric, its not a legal protest, because they didn’t get the proper permitting, insurance, porta-potties, etc. If they apply and are granted permits, then fine, until then, throw them all in jail. Thays my park too, and I don’t support those loons

DannyX

October 29th, 2011
12:10 pm

LOL! The Tea Party was named after one of the most famous acts of civil disobedience in this nation’s history! You same people have a problem with a peaceful protest!

I think I’m going to cancel my subscription to the Tea Party Crazies Gazette.

mike

October 29th, 2011
12:10 pm

It sounds like the drivel is trying to make the Occutards into our founding fathers. I do not agree with his politics but the Mayor did his job when cleaned these protestors out of the park. The annointed leader of leader of the rabble, Mr. Franzen, forced the Mayors hand when he made his wonderful statement of “We do what we want”. I think the protestors should have had the tent city cleared the first night. The protests are fine but the rules of the park are no camping. The Occutards got a lot more liberties than the Tea PArty protestors would have gotten if they had done this stunt. Yes, I am calling names and probably little juvenile on my part but these people are just plain dumb. They are the same old “Rent a Mob” crowd just protesting something new. They are just puppets dancing to the master for the classic Democrat Party tune of the politics of envy. They are hypocrites of the highest order. If they decry wealth and detest acheivement then why renounce all of their wordly posessions and work for free in the soup kitchens and charities, never going to happen. They just want the world handed to them at the expense of others, let them move to one of their Socialist utopias and be happy. Oh wait, there are none so I guess we are stuck with them for now.

Cfruzin

October 29th, 2011
12:11 pm

The Occupy Protesters are nothing more than socialist who believe that someone else’s hard earned money is rightfully there’s. They are lazy anti-capitalist people who should have been tossed out from the get go.

mike

October 29th, 2011
12:11 pm

Sorry for my typo’s

Harold

October 29th, 2011
12:11 pm

Congrats to the Occupy Atlanta kids. They got Woodruff park cleaned up when nobody else was able to get the job done for at least the last 30 years! I can leave my office and go enjoy lunch in the park now that all the homeless deadbeats got cleared out. Thank you Occupy Atlanta! You made this businessman’s lunches better!

DannyX

October 29th, 2011
12:12 pm

Where in the Constitution does it require a permit to protest? Please show the actual paragraph.

DannyX

October 29th, 2011
12:15 pm

“Sorry for my typo’s”

We need to protest those that are responsible for your education.

Occupy mike’s school!

mike

October 29th, 2011
12:17 pm

The Tea Party was named after an act of Social disobediance but if you will note the people involved in the historical movement and the current day movement were fighting an oppressive government who wanted total control. The people in both eras were not looking for hand outs like the Occupy movement. They just wanted to be left alone and to live their lives without the long arm of the government intruding. Study your history, sir.

Vote for Pedro

October 29th, 2011
12:17 pm

Dawgs gonna occupy Jacksonville today!!!

Smoke

October 29th, 2011
12:18 pm

Another break before kickoff. Even Clarence Thomas would agree that the United States constitution explicitly provides for ‘the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances’” in the First Amendment. Posting park hours relates to vagancy, not peaceful assembly. As for the second amendment, it was not about someone walking around with an AK-47 (Made in Russia), but rather the bullets. Finally, Dixiecrats love grandstanding, so for once they are defending John Lewis, even though they call him a liar about the “alledged” spitting incident.

DannyX

October 29th, 2011
12:19 pm

The real Boston Tea Party riots were nothing but a bunch of lawbreakers, they didn’t have a permit.

Old Farmer

October 29th, 2011
12:20 pm

The good news is that the Occupy movement is going strong across the country. When the occupations are over, it will continue as a movement on the homefront.

The people of America are waking up. We want the free market for everyone. As it is, only the poor and middle class are subject to the free market. The rich get special tax breaks, susidies, corporate welfare and bailouts. Enough of this socialism for coporations and the rich.

Centrist

October 29th, 2011
12:21 pm

yuzeyurbrane posted “What worries me is when I see Centrist and Kasim Reed on the same side.”

That’s because you are so left wing that almost everyone is to the right of you.

Mason

October 29th, 2011
12:21 pm

The Tea Party purchased the proper permits. When the permits expired they left the area. I would say that by allowing others to protest without permits everyone who has ever been made to acquire a permit should get a 100% refund. Just because it’s peaceful doesn’t mean it’s legal.

Aubrey

October 29th, 2011
12:21 pm

What has been learned and confirmed since the first of the mindless Drones tried to string together a couple words is that the squatters represent the bottom 10% of society and there they will stay.

mike

October 29th, 2011
12:22 pm

I guess I am on wrong side, my Alma Mater is The Citadel. I am sure you would be welcomed with open arms Danny X. LMAO.We started the Civil War and by the way the issue there was States rights and not slavery which is another great misstatement. of history. The South did not want the Federal Government assuming unwarranted powers.

Aubrey

October 29th, 2011
12:23 pm

Old Farmer

Nothing is holding you back but your own ineptness. Quit complaining.

DannyX

October 29th, 2011
12:24 pm

“Dawgs gonna occupy Jacksonville today!!!”

Have you seen the mess left behind after tailgate parties?

Speaking of socialists. College football is socialist. That’s right. The Georgia Bulldog football team is a socialist institution.

Benie Matt

October 29th, 2011
12:25 pm

Michael Bond was a spoiled P_SSY at Douglass High and he’s still one today! Making a living off of his coke snorting Dad’s name.

yuzeyurbrane

October 29th, 2011
12:28 pm

Centrist, name-calling anyone? My my, you are violating your own ethical standards.

Benie Matt

October 29th, 2011
12:30 pm

Cabral Franklin, seriously! Who gave this punk some legitamicy! His whole family is supposed to be in the PEN! All of them, including his momma were aware and active and or complicit in his king pin sister and brother and laws activities. More proof of the class divide! IF you got drug money and a recognizable last name, you are somehow credible. Boy, sit you punk A$$ down next to that $I$$Y Mike Bond! AJC should be ashamed to have published what these 2 have to say!

zgoldatl

October 29th, 2011
12:31 pm

Danny- I wasn’t saying a permit was required in the constitution. I was saying that they aren’t following local laws, which do require permitting, bathrooms, security and insurance. I think the occupy movement has missed it’s chance to be relevant in a electoral sense with the 4 rapes, sidewalk defecation, and violent behavior that turns off all but the true extreme left. They won’t put one person in office, because they wont turn out to vote. I know many people who sympathized with them, but are now so turned off by the antics, that even the liberal people I know are distancing themselves from this tiny movement. Follow local laws, and respect the place you use to protest. Two simple pieces of advice courtesy of the Tea Party

Bernie Matt

October 29th, 2011
12:31 pm

My bad, this is Bernie! Not hiding, just typing too fast!

Smoke

October 29th, 2011
12:33 pm

Numbers rule. Conservatively, the 1963 I have a dream march on Washington had about 200, 000 people. The 1995 Million man March had 400,000 people. The 2010 march, presented by Fox News, had 300,000 people. So, correct the Glenn Beck rally had more people, but will only be an extremely minor footnote in history, unless revisionists decide to fudge the numbers, content or context of the event. The US population in 1963 was 100 million less than 2010, and most IHAD marchers’ lives were endangered by threats from Dixiecrats for even trying to get to DC. The real historical significance about the 2010 was 300,000 Dixiecrats complaining about the lack of sufficient public transportation!

findog

October 29th, 2011
12:33 pm

Fort is a joke.
OA is aimed at Wall Street, not the set aside scandals of Atlanta’s government.
Is he afraid that if the Caucasians in the banking industry are held to a higher standard that it might trickle down to people of color gaming the minority set-aside scams that is Atlanta’s additional burden on tax revenue?

Tebron Fames

October 29th, 2011
12:33 pm

It is a free country haters. The Centrists and Td’s are jealous. That is all there is to it. They do not care what impact their words have on others. They are absolutely noodles! Screw them! There are plenty of good people out there who are afraid to come out and help society because of eccentrics like republicans. They have shat on America and will continue to do so until people are as dismal as them.

Markus Justice

October 29th, 2011
12:34 pm

Occupy Atlanta, Wallstreet, Oakland are all part of the Democratic Socialist movement and its historical roots are in Marxism. This demonstration is not different from the early 20’s and 30’s when the movement was started in the US however they went underground once people realized their true aim was to install a European style socialist government. Now they are progressive using class warfare as part of their arsenal of weapons. All of these clowns have products made by corporations, some work for corporations, some were given educational grants by corporations but all are too stupid to realize they are being pimped by the Marxist movement in the US.

Ray ray

October 29th, 2011
12:37 pm

I just do not understand why people like George W. Bush are protected. They set the world on fire and let everybody else fight eachother. Bush should not have immunity. He was worse than any dictator to ever live. I would compare him to the likes of Hitler and Pol Pot. Screw that man! I cannot stand Obama but would choose him over Bush anyday! That is America. Let us charge Bush with war crimes!