Monday, December 19, 2016

Residents and GSU Students Threaten to Block Turner Field Development if Binding CBA Not Agreed Upon

Outside Atlnta City Hall
As the final sale agreement for Turner Field is set to be completed by the end of the year, the surrounding communities of Summerhill, Mechanicsville, Peoplestown, and Pittsburgh still have no binding CommunityBenefits Agreement.

Today Turner Field area resident and GSU students meet at the capitol to send a clear message to the city and the developers of the Turner Field property.

“As residents, we simply can't afford another development project that further displaces our community members and has no real community engagement, and no real accountability to our neighborhoods”, stated longtime Peoplestown resident Alison Johnson.

Public officials and development stakeholders have argued that any Community Benefits Agreement negotiation is cost-prohibitive, but fail to acknowledge that the investments and priorities addressed by the CBA could be funded by proceeds from the sale of Turner Field. The sale is expected to generate at least $30 million in revenue, but instead of investing in our communities, our public officials are investing in yet another stadium. That land was stolen from our community through eminent domain and urban renewal, and we demand that it be returned to the neighborhoods that have lost so much across so many decades.

“Students of GSU stand in solidarity with the Turner Field Community Benefits Coalition. We will do everything in our power to ensure that President Becker sits and negotiates a Community Benefits agreement with the coalition. President Becker should expect a good fight from students on this. It is our responsibility to ensure our tuition does not go to a purchase that will not benefit the communities it will affect”, stated the United Students Against Sweatshops, a TFCBC ally.

 “If we must set up a tent city, we will; if we must chain ourselves to construction equipment, we will; if we must fill the jails over and over, we will. We are prepared to do whatever it takes to stop yet another questionable and inequitable development project in our community, and we call on everyone to stand with us in our time of need!” Stated longtime Peoplestown resident Columbus Ward.

Thursday, December 15, 2016

Graduation Ceremony Disruption Serves as a Public Warning

On Wednesday, Dec, 14th, members of the Turner Field campaign coordinated a direct action at Georgia State University’s mid-year commencement ceremony. During the University System Chancellor Hank Huckaby’s commencement address, residents and students intervened with chants of “Dr. Becker, do the right thing” and “CBA or no deal.” Their chorus sounded through the Georgia Dome, and received focused attention from Hank Huckaby and Mark Becker. Huckaby berated the protestors, and incited police officers to remove them from the seating area.  

Asma Elhuni, JT Pennington, and Athri Ranganathan were pushed out of the Dome and taken to a holding room. There, they were detained and interrogated by police for two hours. The encounter was largely non-confrontational, though officers handcuffed Ranganathan and claimed he was lying about his name, date of birth, and social security number. After a delayed acceptance of Ranganathan’s information, officers issued criminal trespass notices to all three individuals. Asma, JT, and Athri are currently under a two-year ban from entering Georgia State University property. They are amidst discussions on how to fight this heavy-handed ruling.

The administration's back-turning to Turner Field residents, unwillingness to negotiate, and drowning of voices has incited community anger. The action was an intentional jab at GSU President Mark Becker and his refusal to discuss a Community Benefits Agreement with Turner Field Neighborhood residents. The threat of GSU-sponsored displacement of Turner Field residents is imminent, and must be countered. The Housing Justice League and its allies stand against the removal of Turner Field residents from their homes. It will continue this fight as the purchase deal moves forward and effects ripple through the Turner Field neighborhoods.

GSU is finalizing its purchase of the Turner Field stadium on Dec. 31st. The Turner Field campaign, a broad coalition of residents and students, is fighting for this purchase to benefit the community. The Community Benefits Agreement for which it is fighting ensures that GSU must gain community consent before developing the Turner Field stadium. The campaign prioritizes the right for residents to remain in their homes and for the community to regain legal ownership over its property. Turner Field residents demand that their voices be lifted up and seriously considered.    

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Residents and students gave a public warning to Mark Becker and his administration on Wednesday. The campaign commits to continuing action until GSU seriously engages residents and their demands. There is much at stake in the purchase deal, including the future of the Turner Field neighborhoods-- it cannot be taken lightly.