Among the 50 or so Occupy Atlanta protesters who were arrested Wednesday at Woodruff Park in downtown Atlanta, 1380/WAOK-AM afternoon host Derrick Boazman was unfazed.
“I’m a veteran of protests. This is my 14th or 15th arrest,” he said in an interview before today’s 4 p.m. show. He had spent 15 sleepless hours in jail from 12:30 a.m. Wednesday until about 3 p.m. yesterday. He has since caught up on sleep. “It’s nothing new. I went to jail three times when Fulton and DeKalb counties wouldn’t fund Grady Hospital. That was five years ago.”
Boazman was an Atlanta City Councilman from 1997 to 2004 but has no desire to go back into politics. He enjoys using the radio to disseminate his voice into the black community at WAOK, where he has been a full-time talk-show host for three years.
His focus has always been on social justice and “how can we make the American Dream come true for everybody.”
He said he visited the Occupy Atlanta protesters on the second day earlier this month. He was impressed with their idealism, identified with their anger and frustration. He came to the site Tuesday night in solidarity but didn’t necessarily want to get arrested. At the same time, “I wasn’t running from it.”
Boazman, 45, recalls taking over the Morris Brown administration buildings when he was in college to protest various issues, from curriculum to food. “We were mimicking the generation before us at Kent State and Morehouse and Howard,” he said. The young people at Occupy Atlanta, he said, “made a political statement. They took a stand. I was comfortable staying out of their way. I didn’t try to influence anything they did.”
He said while some listeners on his show didn’t agree with the students or their lack of a focus, most agreed that the Atlanta Police Department achieved “overkill” when it came to their presence. While the protesters were peaceful, the city would have as many as 300 police officers around and inside the park to oversee maybe 100 protesters at a time. “Ridiculous,” he said. Those resources he felt should have been used simply doing their jobs outside Woodruff Park.
Boazman didn’t overtly criticize Mayor Kasim Reed, who he believed was pressured to get the protesters out. “There was a business interest in this city concerned about Atlanta’s public image,” he said. “A lot of them came from a different time and era.”
He, like a lot of people, is disgusted by both political parties. Occupy Atlanta and the other protests around the country and the world “tap into a real sense of outrage and hurt: the foreclosures, the lost jobs, the bailouts of the banks.”
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By Rodney Ho, Radio & TV Talk