Thursday, October 6, 2016

Atlanta Residents and GSU Students Demand Input in the Turner Field purchase

On noon, Tuesday, October 4th at Hurt Park, GSU students and NPU-V residents joined the Housing Justice League to deliver a petition to GSU President Mark Becker’s office. The direct action was geared towards securing a legally-binding Community-Benefits Agreement (CBA) that ensures residents of Turner Field neighborhoods benefit from positive development around their homes.

The rally began in a sunlit Hurt Park at noon, with joint cadres of Georgia State University students and NPU-V residents. Many held signs that read, “Stop displacement on our dime,” “Students and residents march together,” and “Gentrification State University.” Half-past the hour, student organizer Patricio Cambias Rojas rallied students and gave an overview of the action. Co-organizer Christopher Hollis took lead in giving chants, and marching students and residents towards Becker’s office.

Students and Residence deliver petition to President Becker

In the building of Centennial Hall, marchers learned that President Becker was “out” for the day-- his absence has not been confirmed by independent sources-- and that they would not be allowed into his office. Housing Justice League organizer Sherise Brown and GSU organizer Asma Elhuni delivered a petition to Becker’s secretary in lieu of Becker, and restated the demand that Becker meet with marchers to discuss a CBA clause within GSU’s purchase package. Brown noted, “We are following up on our last march to your office, and we wish to meet with President Becker. Please let him know that we are sincere, and want to discuss the mutual benefits of a CBA.” As of now, Becker’s office has given no response.

Students and residents initiated a sit-in during which many shared personal stories, ranging from oral histories of the Turner Field neighborhoods to student activism at GSU. Longtime resident May Helen Johnson recounted how Turner Field neighborhoods have long fell victim to the economic priorities of others. “Churches have been demolished in place of contaminated housing units, and empty parking lots have replaced long-time houses.”  Johnson, along with other residents, expressed hope that the combined efforts of students and residents would impress urgency behind the call for a CBA. This new wave of action, Johnson noted, “can bring positive development back to an area once filled with it.”   
Students and residents hold a sit-in

The Turner Field Community Benefit Agreement (CBA) is a valuable opportunity to reorganize administrative priorities and change the neglect of Turner Field. This legally-binding agreement has driven by local residents and the over 40 community organizations that make up the Turner Field Community Benefits Coalition.

A CBA would mean tremendous change for all involved in the Turner Field neighborhoods. A well implemented CBA could alleviate flooding, improve transportation, provide jobs for residents, and include educational training for people of all ages. It could prevent displacement of existing residents, create housing for people of all incomes, provide the neighborhood with places to shop, and make streets and communities safer and cleaner.
Long term residents hold a banner iutside President Beckers office

The Housing Justice League, NPU-V residents, and GSU students are committed to demonstrating the power of a Community Benefits Agreement for our communities. On Tuesday, October 4th, we showed this commitment by rallying to Mark Becker’s office and delivering our petition. And we will continue pushing, and escalating, to create a more affordable, better serviced Atlanta.

Please SIGN and SHARE the online petition.