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.

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