Wednesday, January 18, 2012
Just six days ago Pastor Dexter Johnson of Higher Ground Empowerment Center (HGEC) reached out to Occupy Atlanta in the 11th hour of the congregation's fight to stay in the 108 year old Vine City Church. Late Wednesday(1/11/12) Occupy Atlanta rolled out tents and within 12 hours BB&T retreated from their attempt to evict the church.
After several hours of negotiations with between BB&T Bank, Occupy Atlanta, HGEC, and Joe Beasley with Rainbow PUSH, we have a deal that HGEC can more than live with. HGEC is going nowhere, not only did they get their deed to the land back, they have been given back the nine lots surrounding the Church for development, and a commitment from BB&T to meet again, with in 30 days, to discuss ways they can justly invest in the Vine City Community.
Today is a victory for HGEC, Occupy Atlanta, Vine City, and all the 99%. This victory was facilitated not by experts but by everyday folks working together to fight for their communities.
A big thanks to BB&T Bank for doing the right thing, and a big thanks to Rebuild The Dream for facilitating a dynamic national petition drive to save the 108 year old Church! "Today was a triumph for Higher Ground! Thank God for Occupy Atlanta, Thank God for Brother Joe Beasley", said HGEC Pastor Dexter Johnson.
Bringing the deed to the Church home would have simply been impossible if a dynamic grouping of Atlanta folks and organizations had not come together and shared resources to make the win happen. American Friends Service Committee, National Action Center, Grandmothers for Peace, Georgia Peace and Justice Coalition, and the Vine City Neighborhood Planning Unit all played an important role.
This win is just a beginning. The real work is organizing the Vine City community. The question we're all asking is, how do we use the momentum of this win to galvanize Vine City? Idea's on where to start with the laundry list of problems that have hit the community. While folks where waiting at the church for the word on weather the deed was coming back to the churh, Occupy Atlanta and HGEC started getting a leg up on the clean up effort in Vine City.
Those that are interested are invited to join us for a community meeting this Saturday, 1/21, at 1pm at Higher Ground Empowerment Center, 561 Spencer Street.
American Friends Service Committee