Sunday, December 25, 2011

Home For the Holidays With the Occupy Movement!


Two people on opposite sides of the country are able to spend the holidays at home due to last-minute interventions by Occupy Atlanta, Occupy Gwinnett, and Occupy Los Angeles.

Kenneth Glover contacted Occupy Atlanta early in November. His home had been foreclosed on and apparently sold to another bank. However, even though the bank was unable to show ownership of the home, an eviction went through initially. Deborah Storm, of Occupy Gwinnett, says “I went with Kenneth to his eviction hearing and found that the judge in the case was very biased…He listened to everything that the plaintiff had to say, but very little of what Kenneth Glover had to say. ” Seven days later, Mr. Glover was able to file an appeal and a motion to review with help from Occupy Gwinnett. The appeal was accepted fifteen minutes before the court closed. Thursday evening when Mr. Glover got home, he received a letter saying that the putative owner of the house is not pursuing an eviction a this time. Occupy Gwinnett also helped him find a lawyer who feels that he has a good case going forward. Mr. Glover says, “I would like to thank Occupy Gwinnett for helping me and other Georgia citizens, for their support and keeping us in our home.”

Meanwhile, across the country in Palmville, CA, Gary Cohen was struggling with his own situation. Disabled from a stroke following his wife’s death, he had gone into what he described as a “downward turn.” On top of his personal grief, he had to deal with a complicated tangle: his mortgage, which was originally with Household Finance, had been sold and re-sold, and a balloon payment which had been removed suddenly reappeared. He had attempted to get a loan modification through HAMP with Indymac, the current owner of the mortgage. “They wanted me to send this paperwork, that paperwork…They finally said, essentially, ‘this is taking too long.’” His home was scheduled to be auctioned off on December 22. But on December 21, he saw a segment on CNN about Brigitte Walker, whose home Occupy Atlanta helped save. “I wasn’t able to find the legal aid website CNN posted when I went looking for it, so I thought, ‘what about Occupy Atlanta?’” He was able to reach Kelvin Williams who was working on Occupy Atlanta’s telephone system, and who just happened to be going through a foreclosure himself. “He called us at about 1:30 pm…” From Georgia, Kelvin walked Mr. Cohen through the paperwork required to file a skeletal bankruptcy which would put an automatic stay on the sale of the house. Meanwhile, Occupy Atlanta participants contacted Occupy Los Angeles. While Mr. Cohen filed paperwork at the courthouse. the next morning at 8:45 am, with fifteen minutes to spare before the sale at 9 am, several people from Occupy Los Angeles went to where the foreclosure sale was occurring in order to stop it. “Indymac didn’t want to take the paperwork, but the folks from Occupy Los Angeles convinced them.” The sale was postponed, which will allow Mr. Cohen enough time to file the paperwork he needs in order to keep his home. “It worked,” says Kelvin. “I’m still kinda in shock.”

It should be noted that while all of the foreclosure occupations are relatively small, an even smaller number of people were involved in each of these situations. The willingness of only a handful of people from Occupy Gwinnett, Occupy Atlanta, and Occupy Los Angeles to intervene resulted in two families gaining a reprieve and the opportunity to save their homes.

“It was kind of magical for me. My wife, who passed away a year and a half ago from cancer, was from Georgia, and we always wanted to visit but never got the chance. You could say our heart was there, and that’s where the help came from.”

*Pictured above in Kenneth Glover.

Sara Amis

Occupy Atlanta

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Brigitte Walkers Story Goes National!



Brigitte Walker's victory not only means that she will be able to stay in her home, it's a call to action for everyone facing eviction or foreclosure! We are encouraged that the rest of the nation is picking up on her story. Brigitte Walker's willingness to resist her foreclosure, along side Occupy Atlanta is truly inspiring!

Check out some of the coverage on Brigitte Walker and Occupy Atlanta's BIG win:

CNN

Creative Loafing


AutoStraddle - Occupy Atlanta Saves Lesbian Vet's Home, Accomplishes Tangible Change

Atlanta Creative Loafing - Occupy Atlanta Saves Home From Auction Block

CBS (Atlanta) - Occupy Atlanta Helps Keep Family in Their Home

PBS (Atlanta) - Occupy Atlanta Helps Homeowner Avoid Foreclosure

The GA Voice - Lesbian To Keep Home Thanks To Occupy Atlanta

FireDogLake - Occupy Atlanta Saves Woman's Home From Foreclosure

Project Q Atlanta - Occupy Atlanta Helps Lesbian Veteran Keep Her Home

Youtube - Chase Foreclosing on Veterans

People's World - Memo Confirms Occupy Movement Has Banks on the Edge

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Occupy Atlanta Helps Save the Home of Veteran







In late November, Brigitte Walker, a decorated Iraq War veteran received another foreclosure notice. Brigitte had unsuccessfully tried to modify her loan with Chase Bank since she medically retired from the army as a result of combat related injuries in 2007. Her home was set to be sold on the Fulton County Courthouse steps on January 3rd, whether she was in it or not. Instead of making holiday plans or putting up a Christmas tree, Brigitte and her girlfriend Ajai were worried about losing their home. On a whim, Brigitte sent an email to Georgia state senator Vincent Fort, who set up a meeting with Occupy Atlanta. On December 6, after leaving the very same auction where Brigitte's home was to be sold the following month, we started occupying her home.
The sad reality is that countless families in Georgia have their homes auctioned off at county court houses every month. Many believe that homes auctioned on the court house steps are unoccupied. This is not true; Occupy Atlanta has seen multiple families begging auctioneers not to sell their homes. For many, this auction is the last nail in the coffin of their American dream, their home. Let's not get it twisted, the auctioning of occupied foreclosed homes in Georgia is nasty business.

In Georgia, the foreclosure process can begin after just one missed payment. The lender then sets a sale date for that home to be auctioned off, and publishes the sale notice in the county paper. They are only required to give the homeowner 30 days' notice, and there is no requirement that the homeowner receives the notice, only that it is sent. If the sale goes through, there is no right of redemption in Georgia, meaning there is no way for a homeowner to reclaim their home. Disrupting the auction of a home literally gives a family one more month of housing, and in some cases one more chance to save their home.
A six to nine month moratorium on evictions and foreclosures would allow time for bank inflated home values to be re-assessed to realistic payable levels. The banks' irresponsible practices played a huge role in our current crisis. In their time of need we bailed them out. Now it's their turn to do the right thing, to stop holding our economy hostage.
After two press conferences on her lawn, a national call in day, and direct action on Chase Bank, Occupy Atlanta did what Brigitte Walker couldn't do in years, get a loan modification. If it weren't for Occupy Atlanta and Brigitte Walker's willingness to resist foreclosure, she would have had her American Dream auctioned off on the Fulton county court house steps. Instead Brigitte Walker and her family can breathe easy knowing they can continue to live the American dream of home ownership.
It should be noted that while we were fighting to save Brigitte Walkers home, we also spent a great deal of time organizing the South Hills community where she lives. In her neighborhood we found over a dozen abandoned homes, and many other families facing economic hardships. The developer gave up on the community in the latter end of 2007 and never finished the community center that was supposed include a pool, basketball court, and a space for meetings. The impact of this broken promise is deep. Children have nothing to do after school or on weekends besides wander around and play in abandoned buildings. Because the Banks make slightly more money on insurance when they evict then they do on creating modifications that keep people in, communities like South Hills are being held hostage by the big banks.
Winning Brigitte's home is a win for the people. It should be a call for Georgians to fight for their homes, and fight for their neighbors' homes. Let's not forget, we outnumber the bank executives.
American Friends Service Committee is proud to stand with and support Occupy Atlanta's actions to defend families from evictions and foreclosures.

Co-Written by:
Shabnam Bashiri
Guest Writer
Tim Franzen
American Friends Service Committee

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Occupy REALLY, REALLY, Free Market




Occupy Atlanta launched it's first really, really free market on black Friday and has continued to organize one every weekend. What is a Really, Really free market? It's a space where the exchange of money or goods is prohibited. Everything is totally free. Bring what you would like, take what you would like, it's all free.
The really, really, free markets have not only been opportunities for folks to give and recieves items they may need, it's also been an opportunity to create dialogue about the problems with our current economic system. How can we meet each other our brithers and sisters in the spirit of community when our system is based on compitition? What is the real cost and real value of the items our society lifts up as treasures?
This Saturday at Troy Davis Park(formerly known as Woodruff Park) at 1pm there will be a final pre- Christmas really, really, free market. So come bring stuff, take stuff, and meet some new friends!
Tim Franzen
American Friends Service Committee

Monday, December 12, 2011

AFSC Occupys Fort Benning



This past November AFSC organized a workshop on how to demilitarize our communities at the yearly rally and vigil to close the School of The Americas. We also had an information booth at the gates of fort benning all weekend.
AFSC was also excited to participate in a statewide effort to bring Occupy movements in the state of Georgia togther. Occupation movements from Atlanta, Augusta, Athens,Gwinnett, and Columbus came together to share ideas, progress, and possibilities. Ideas on colaberative work possibilities included coordinating home Occupations to save families from foreclosure and evictions and black Friday events.
Tim Franzen
American Friends Service Committee

Monday, November 21, 2011

Gun Shots and Refuge From The Cold On The Capitol Steps




















It was Sunday November 13th when Someone involved with Occupy Atlanta got a tip from a local news reporter that Capitol police were planning on evicting a group of homeless people who had been occupying a ledge within eye shot of the Georgia Capitol and City Hall. From what we have gathered complaints from the Government employees had brought on the eviction threats.

They sleep there because of the safety that comes being nestled between multiple government buildings, they sleep there because air ducts below the ledge release warm exhaust produced from surrounding buildings, they sleep there because several near by churches provide direct services.

Frankly, the homeless should be evicted from the ledge and put into one of the 50,000 empty units in the city. Sadly it appears that Atlanta continues act like the city that's to busy to care, to careless to worry about where these folks would be evicted to, to concerned with the image of poverty, and not concerned about dealing with poverty and homelessness.

Occupy Atlanta held a press conference on Sunday November 12th calling on the city and the state not to evict folks on the ledge until they found adequate homes for them to occupy. Occupy Atlanta also decided to set up tents and stay with folks on the ledge until the threat of eviction died down.

I was one of many occupiers that volunteered to stay on the ledge, and I must say it was a surreal experience for me. From the ledge on Central Ave between Mitchell St and Martin Luther King blvd you can see the gold dome of the Georgia capitol and Atlanta's city hall.

During the day the surrounding blocks are where most of the city and state business is done. Atlanta has the greatest wealth inequity of any metropolitan area in the country, and no block in the city exemplifies this economic reality more than this block.

When the power brokers of the city and state go home the shelterless come back to the ledge each night. I spent three nights on the ledge, talking with folks, hearing their stories, taking in what it means to live on the ledge. I found most of the people staying on the ledge to be extremely articulate and friendly. Many offered to help us set up tents each night and break down camp. I talked with a half dozen folks that were homeless as a result of losing a job over the summer and having no financial safety net. Many clean up at a local church and job hunt all day, which isn't the easiest thing to do these days.

While many chose the ledge to stay at because it's safer then Atlanta's underpasses, it's by no means a super safe area at night. On our first night several cars drove by our encampment and fired four shots from a hand gun into the air. While some of the folks that had been on the ledge for months were a little jumpy after the shots where fired, most barely flinched. For them, it's a pretty common experience, an experience most of us never get used to.

For now it seems that the eviction of the ledge had been put off, it was likely a combination of media attention and local churches that complained to the city and state once they caught wind of law enforcement's plan to evict.

Is this a victory for Occupy Atlanta? We know that law enforcement had a plan to evict, that plan didn't happen, which is good. The real victory will be the day that the 36,000 shelterless people in Atlanta have housing.


Tim Franzen
American Friends Service Committee

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Capitol Police Threaten Eviction

For years, homeless folks have been sleeping at Central Ave between MLK dr and Mitchell street across from city hall on a ledge that backs up into Georgia Plaza Park. Over the past month the number of homeless occupying the space has dramatically increased. The reasons are numerous. They include the looming closing of Peachtree and Pine; stricter admission criteria at Gateway; and of course the rise in the homeless population due to double digit unemployment and high home foreclosure rate.
Why this spot? The ledge adjacent to the park is constantly warmed by exhaust rising from city ducts. A woman who has lived there for months stated, “The reason we are on this wall is because it’s much safer then under a bridge”. We are also aware that several local churches provide direct services at this location. Occupy Atlanta found the homeless community to be extremely articulate and hungry to improve their lives.

We became extremely concerned when we learned that the capitol police have informed the homeless that they will be forcibly removed Sunday or Monday evening. What’s even more concerning is that folks will not be provided an alternative space to sleep. We know that Judges whose offices overlook the wall have been complaining about the image of homeless sleeping outside the Government building. Some have even gone so far as to claim the presence of the homeless on this wall represents an unsafe condition for government employees and for jurors.

This forcible removal of homeless is a continuation of Atlanta’s inhuman strategy to deal with human beings that have fallen on hard times. Instead forcing the homeless into the darkest corners of Atlanta we should be addressing the human needs of these people. We should be addressing the growing cancer of poverty in our city.

We challenge the city to explore ways to address the homeless as human beings instead of public relations issues. Atlanta can do better.

Capitol Police are planning to evict the people who have been sleeping on the ledge that backs up to Georgia Plaza Park at Central Ave. between MLK and Mitchell St. They have come there for years seeking the warmth that rises up from the vents, but now they are under threat of being forcibly removed with no alternative provision. Occupy Atlanta anticipates that this removal will happen between 5:30 and 6:30 am. We will be occupying that space with them in solidarity and so that we will be present if the eviction occurs.

SAVE THE ROREY HOME!!!


Last week, Occupy Atlanta went to Snellville Georgia to occupy the home of Chris and Tawanna Rorey and their three children, to attempt to stop them from being evicted. The Rorey family had fallen victim to the illegal and deceitful banking practices that have affected many homeowners in metro Atlanta and around the country.

This is not a family that doesn’t have the means to pay their mortgage. This is a family who was taken advantage of by a banking system that through securitization, mortgage swaps, and outright fraud is designed to benefit the mortgage holder and not the homeowner. When we got there we knew it would be a tough fight. Our entire system is built to favor the perpetrators of dishonest banking practices and institutionalized fraud rather than to protect the victims.

What we didn’t realize is how deeply the system has influenced the local political scene. From a judge who doesn’t believe that it’s necessary for the bank to prove ownership of the mortgage, to a sheriff whose solution to a family’s plight is to threaten arrest of a fellow law enforcement officer and his wife for seeking our help, the facts and justice of the situation don’t seem to matter to anyone in power. We left the family’s home in order to protect them but this fight is not over. We can still win this. Here’s what you can do to help.

-Show up at the Fannie Mae Regional Offices on Monday, Nov 14 at 2 pm 950 East Paces Ferry Rd. (Next to the Lenox Marta station) http://www.facebook.com/event.php?eid=276584775714008#!/event.php?eid=276584775714008
-Sign this petition and pass it along http://www.change.org/petitions/join-occupy-atlanta-and-stop-the-eviction-of-the-rorey-family

-Call and write Fannie Mae 3900 Wisconsin Ave. NW , Washington D.C., 20016-2892 Atlanta Office- 950 East Paces Ferry Rd. Ste 1800, Atlanta, Ga 30326 (404) 398-6000

- Encourage the Independent Foreclosure Review Board to review the Rorey’s case 1-888-952-9105 www.independentforeclosurereview.com

- Call the Financial Fraud Enforcement Task Force (202) 514-2000 www.stopfraud.gov

- Call and write State Rep Pamela Dickerson (404) 656-0314 pam.dickerson@house.ga.gov 611 Coverdell Legislative Office Building, Atlanta, Ga 30334

-Call and write State Senator Gloria Butler (404) 656-0075 gloria.butler@senate.ga.gov 420-C Georgia State Capitol, Atlanta, Ga 30334

-Call and write Congressman Rob Woodall (202) 225-4272 1725 Longworth House Office Building, Washington D.C., 20515

-Call and write Senator Saxby Chambliss (202) 224-3521 416 Russell Senate Office Building, Washington D.C., 20510

-Call and write Senator John Isakson (202) 224-3643 120 Russell Senate Office Building, Washington D.C., 20510

Friday, November 11, 2011

Honoring Veterans, Foreclosing on War











Armistice day marks the day that the major hostilities of World War I were formally ended at the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month of 1918 with the German signing of the Armistice. Armistice day is a day meant to celebrate peace and reconciliation.

Over the years Armistice day has come to be called veterans day, and the focus has shifted from celebrating peace and reconciliation to honoring those who served in the armed services. It should be noted that Armistice day was never intended to be a day to celebrate war and nationalism.

Today I was proud that American Friends Service Committee has embraced the Occupation movement in Atlanta and around that world, I think they got the spirit of the day right.

Occupy Atlanta hosted a lunch for veterans in the park and it was quite a spread. Over fifty veterans attended, many of whom have been discarded by the same nation that beats the drum of war and shouts, "Support The Troops", when it's time to fight. May veterans don't find that "Support" when they return home. The fact is veterans make about 15% less annually then their non-veteran counter parts, one third of homeless people are veterans, only 12% of veterans find that their military service helps them get a job, 33% of female veterans report sexual assault while on duty, only 20% of veteran ever receive a four year degree, and 18 veterans commit suicide every week.

Before another war profiteer supporting politician or pundit beats the drum of war using the, "Support the Troops" jargon they should be forced to deal with the harsh realities most veterans of war live with everyday.

After Occupy Atlanta served lunch there was a veterans speak out. Several veterans, including Vietnam combat medic John Zientowski and Iraq Veteran Hector Barraza both made the case for a full scale foreclosure on America's wars to heavy applause from the crowd.

After the speak out Occupy Atlanta marched to Bank of America and held a foreclosure proceeding. The bank was foreclosed upon for a number a reasons including the misuse of billions of TAFT dollars from the American people, foreclosing on countless veterans, hidden bank fees for service men and women currently serving overseas, and being morally and ethically bankrupt. During the foreclosure proceedings, "foreclosed" signs were put up and the doors were locked. I'm told that the building will go up for sale this Monday on Craigslist.

Tim Franzen
American Friends Service Committee

Thursday, November 10, 2011

American Friends Service Committee to Occupy Fort Benning











SHUT DOWN THE SCHOOL OF AMERICAS
American Friends Service Committee to Occupy Fort Benning

On November 18-20, 2011 the American Friends Service Committee will join thousands of social justice activists and organizations from across the Americas in occupying the main gates of Fort Benning, Georgia to call for an end to U.S. militarization and for the closure of the Western Hemisphere Institute for Security Cooperation, formerly the School of Americas.

The three-day convergence will include a massive rally, where thousands will occupy the main gates of the Fort Benning military base in order to transform it from a place that trains assassins to a place of initiation into political awareness. On Sunday, November 20, the chain-linked barbed wire fence will be transformed with images of the martyrs, crosses, stars and flowers into a memorial for the victims of SOA violence and U.S. intervention. Human rights activists will carry their protest onto the grounds of the military base, risking arrest and up to six months in federal prison. The mobilization will include speakers from the NAACP, the Sisters of Mercy, the Georgia Undocumented Youth Alliance (GUYA), torture survivors and human rights activists from Latin America as well as plenaries, workshops, concerts, strategy sessions and more.

“The SOA provides the military muscle to protect the greed of the 1% at the expense of the 99% throughout the Americas.” said Father Roy Bourgeois, the founder of SOA Watch. “The surge of social justice activism in the U.S. is fueling the call for the closure of this notorious institution.”

The SOA/WHINSEC is a U.S. taxpayer-funded military training school for Latin American soldiers, located at Fort Benning, Georgia. The school made headlines in 1996 when the Pentagon released training manuals used at the school that advocated torture, extortion and execution. Despite this shocking admission and hundreds of documented human rights abuses connected to soldiers trained at the school, no independent investigation into the training facility has ever taken place. SOA violence continues in Mexico, where 1/3 of the original members of the Zetas drug cartel were trained at the SOA, and where the U.S. is promoting military solutions to the drug problem. SOA violence continues in Colombia, which has sent more than 10,000 soldiers to train at the SOA, and where SOA graduates are involved with extrajudicial killings and other serious human rights violations. SOA violence continues in Honduras, where SOA graduates overthrew the democratically elected government in 2009. SOA violence continues in Guatemala, where SOA graduate Otto PĂ©rez Molina just won the presidential elections, and throughout the Americas. In October 2011, Time Magazine published the article “Is It Time to Shutter the Americas' 'Coup Academy'?:” http://www.time.com/time/world/article/0,8599,2097124,00.html#ixzz1b9Rvmcbu

In August 2011, 69 Members of the House of Representatives delivered a letter to President Obama, calling on the President to shut down the Western Hemispheric Institute for Security Cooperation (WHINSEC), formerly the School of Americas (SOA) by executive order. The 69 Representatives include Representative John Lewis from Georgia, Representative Ron Paul from Texas and Representative James McGovern from Massachusetts. To read the letter, visit http://soaw.org/docs/ObamaLetter.pdf

On November 4, Representative McGovern introduced H.R. 3368, the Latin America Military Training Review Act, in the House of Representatives. The bill calls for the suspension of the SOA/ WHINSEC and an investigation into the connection between U.S. military training and human rights abuses in Latin America.

SOA Watch is a nonviolent grassroots movement that works for the closing the School of the Americas and a change in U.S. foreign policy - www.SOAW.org

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Occupy Atlanta Fights to Save Policeman's Home




SNELLVILLE, GA - Occupy Atlanta goes out into the suburbs where the impact of foreclosures and deceitful bank practices are being felt just as they are throughout the Atlanta metro area and the entire state. Georgia has the fourth highest foreclosure rate in the nation while Atlanta lost more jobs last year than any other city in the United States.

Tawanna Rorey is a full-time homemaker, while her husband works in law enforcement; they have three children. The house on Shoreside Circle was their first home purchase, in 2003. When SunAmerica, their original mortgage company went out of business, their mortgage become securitized and was eventually purchased by Fannie Mae and serviced by EverHome. The Roreys had never missed a payment on their mortgage, but sought loan modification because of rising expenses and also because they were trying to send their oldest daughter to college. They were told by EverHome they would have to show financial hardship and should do so by missing a payment; this practice is increasingly common and puts homeowners at risk unnecessarily. EverHome began foreclosure proceedings immediately while also moving forward with the loan modification, a practice called “double processing.” At this point the Roreys approached by a con artist named John Harris; he pretended to be an advocate for borrowers who would help them with the loan modification process. His real motive was to gain access to homes which were being foreclosed on so that he could pretend to be the landlord and rent them once they were empty; he was arrested in Cobb County October 17. Before the foreclosure they engaged a lawyer who did not file properly; the suit was dismissed for that reason. At that point they engaged a new lawyer who is addressing the situation as it now stands.

Occupy Atlanta currently has a group occupying the home, with the family’s blessing. So far the Gwinnett County Sherriff’s Department has not served the eviction notice; the delay has allowed attempts to stop the foreclosure to go forward. Additionally, Occupy Atlanta has helped an Occupy Gwinnett group to form in order to address issues important to people in Gwinnett County.

The Rorey family’s story is just one example of a situation unfolding in communities all over all over the United States. Inadequate regulation of lending practices, including inadequate protections for borrowers, creates a situation where even people in relatively good financial shape can wind up facing foreclosures and legal nightmares.

As Tawanna Rorey said, “I never thought I would be in this position.”


Guest Writer,

Sara Amis

Occupy Gwinnett – Please call Judge Karen E. Beyers to ask her to overturn her decision against this family: 770-822-8605. In addition, please encourage Sherriff Butch Conway to continue to show forbearance while we try to find remedies for this family: 770-619-6500.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Kingian Nonviolence Training For Occupy Atlanta



Today the Martin Luther King Jr Center for Nonviolent Social Change facilitated a Kingian Nonviolence for Occupy Atlanta at Task Force for the Homeless. The workshop was especially relevant as Occupy Atlanta planned to reoccupy Troy Davis Park just six hours after the training.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Bloods and Crips Find Common Cause in Occupy Atlanta




Sherrod Britton, 29, was initiated into the Bloods when he was 18 years old. He joined because he felt lost and wanted to be a part of something.

Sherrod was walking down peachtree street past Troy Davis three weeks ago and saw all the tents. "I wanted to know what was going on, so I stopped by,I haven't left since", said Sherrod.

Sherrod expressed feeling a deep connection to the message and process of Occupy Atlanta." I stayed for the common cause, speaking for the people. I feel strongly that we have the right to jobs, health care, and affordable higher education."

Around the same day Sherrod showed up Shabaka Addae Guillory, 20, saw a story on the news about Occupy Atlanta and had to see it for himself. Shabaka stated, "I knew this kind of movement was coming I just didn't know it would come so soon."

Shabaka and Sherrod both found a common cause in Occupy Atlanta, but they also share another commonality in their narrative.

Shabaka was recruited into the crips when he was 14 years old. "My parents were divorced, grandfather passed away, a lot of problems at school, and there was a lot of confusion at the time."

On Shabaka's first day at Occupy Atlanta he approached a group of folks doing an impromptu free style session and saw Sherrod. "I saw him in the park, saw his colors. There was no mean mug or rivalry because we realized that what's happening hear is so much bigger then gang rivalry", stated Shabaka.

Shabaka Added, "Now we're the best of friends."

"I let him sleep in my tent cause he didn't have one. We are connected through music, faith, and Occupy Atlanta", stated Sherrod.


Sherrod and Shabaka are now both very committed full time occupiers. Occupy Atlanta may have started as an act of civil disobedience designed to shine a light on the extreme wealth disparity in our city, country, and around the world. It's important to acknowledge that one of the beautiful byproducts of this new movement is the transformative experiences that arisen as a result of so many different people form different walks of life occupying a space together for a common cause.


Tim Franzen
American Friends Service Committee