The City of Atlanta does not protect all its citizens as demonstrated by deliberate efforts to marginalize and not protect Atlanta’s Task Force for the Homeless
By Heather Gray
December 15, 2016
WRFG Radio and Justice Initiative
ATLANTA: On December 14, 2016, the “Metro-Atlanta Task Force for the Homeless” held a press briefing to discuss the recent alarming and dangerous circumstances facing the Task Force and threats to its inhabitants. For more than 20 years the Task Force has owned and operated a homeless shelter in downtown Atlanta for Atlanta’s poor and struggling citizens. Now Mayor Kasim Reed and the Atlanta Police Department, for all intents and purposes, are attempting to force the Task Force from its location by shamefully even making the very lives of Task Force staff and residents vulnerable. The Task Force is calling for concerned Atlantans to immediately call the Mayor’s Office (404-330-6100) and Police Chief Turner’s Office (404-906-9825 or 404-906-0125) and demand protection for the residents and guests of the homeless shelter.
Recently for the first time ever there were gunshots fired directly into the Task Force building. While no one was hurt, still this unprecedented occurrence has alarmed residents, staff and board members. The question is how and why did this happen and many point their fingers directly at the city’s Mayor and the police department itself.
Here is a description of this shooting by Ms. Walker of the Task Force for the Homeless:
The staff of the Task Force also revealed that even though there is an Atlanta Police Precinct office directly across the street from the Task Force building on Peachtree Street and Pine Street in Atlanta, there is clearly a directive from the higher-ups in Atlanta to not protect the Task Force residents and building.
Listen to Task Force board member Joe Beasley as he describes the Task Force history and present appalling negligence on the part of Mayor Reed and the Police Department to protect its citizens:
Some staff members mentioned that they had been informed by some in the police department that if they, as police officers, help the Task Force they will be removed from that precinct.
Others also informed us that it appears there is a deliberate attempt to encourage those selling illegal drugs in the area to locate close to the Task Force building to denigrate the neighborhood, cast a bad light on the Task Force, make the residents more vulnerable and to essentially force the Task Force out of its building by linking drugs and violence to the Task Force itself. To demonstrate this intent, at the press conference we were also told that some have witnessed the police observing the drug sellers around the Task Force building and have not done anything about this as they would in other areas of Atlanta.
As Executive Director Anita Beatty wisely told us, the Task Force recognizes that most drug sellers are in need of assistance as well, but that the Task Force has rules and regulations that will not allow residents to have guns and illegal drugs on the premises.
Listen to Executive Director Anita Beatty as she provides an update on pressure against the Task Force by the government and corporate Atlanta. As she also notes that even though the city appears to be attempting to marginalize and malign the Task Force, still, on a routine basis, the City of Atlanta sends many of those in dire need to the Task Force for assistance as there is no other entity in the city that will take them in and has the wherewithal to assist them!
For years there have been entities partnering with the City government to remove the Task Force shelter from the Peachtree and Pine location. The Task Force has, in fact, been in foreclosure for some 6 years. Yet, so far, the Task Force has won in the courts – in particular in the Georgia Supreme Court in 2015 – here is brief information about this:
(From Atlanta Progressive News) This morning, Monday, November 23, 2015, the Supreme Court of Georgia issued a ruling that is favorable to the Metro Atlanta Task Force for the Homeless, upholding prior summary judgment rulings, and paving the way for a trial on the merits of the case.
Also included in the Atlanta Progressive News article was that:
The Task Force claims that Central Atlanta Progress, Manny Fialkow, and other individuals and entities conspired to sabotage the Task Force, by depriving it of funds and maneuvering the organization into foreclosure so that a member of the conspiracy could obtain the building.
Beatty has inferred that some entities in the city will on occasion have “operatives” to spy on the organization as a further attempt to undermine the Task Force. Lurking on the corner prior to the press conference on December 14 was George Chidi, who is on staff of the Central Atlanta Progress as its “social impact director”. He did not attend the press conference.
To further demonstrate this corruption by Atlanta’s wealthy elite, board member Joe Beasley mentioned that the Task Force was offered $11 million if they would leave their site. This offer was coupled with a non-disclosure directive. The Task Force refused the offer and opted instead to continue serving Atlanta citizens in need!
Listen to Task Force Board member Myrtle Davis – former Atlanta City Council Member – speak about how neighborhoods are protected except for the Task Force for the Homeless! Shame on Atlanta!
In conclusion, I personally want to thank the “Metro-Atlanta Task Force for the Homeless” for its tireless commitment all these many tears to those in need!!! As one who has traveled and lived in many parts of the world I recognize that what makes a city or country “great” is the inclusion, kindness and compassion that its people and officials offer to all of its citizens regardless of race, religion or economic status. And to ensure this is the case it takes vigilance on the part of all citizens. Atlanta still has a lot to learn!
Below is the press statement from the Task Force that provides
METRO ATLANTA TASK FORCE FOR THE HOMELESS
477 PEACHTREE STREET,
ATLANTA, GEORGIA 30308
PHONE: 404-787-5826 FAX: 404-941-9143
Press Release: Police Refuse to Help Homeless Shelter
Media Contact: Anita Beaty – 404-729-5366
The Board, staff and residents of the Task Force at Peachtree-Pine cry “foul” on Mayor Reed and the Atlanta Police Department (APD) for allowing violent drug and alcohol in the streets and on sidewalks surrounding the facility.
The children, mothers, single women and men residing at 477 Peachtree Street have a right to protection from street violence, drug use, and sales, as well as general harassment that preys on them day and night.
Two daytime drug-related shootings terrorized residents and outside volunteers during the serving of a meal. Never before have shots been fired at the building, while mothers and children, to say nothing of men and volunteers, work together to serve dinner.
How can our Resident Volunteer Security Staff protect us when the APD refuses to respond?
* Peachtree-Pine has sheltered and served with Case Management support services more than 15,000 individuals annually, with no public funds and constant threats from City Hall.
* 28% of all those who completed intakes in the past year went on into transitional or permanent housing subsequently.
* Peachtree-Pine is the only Atlanta emergency overflow facility open 24/7 all year long.
* Peachtree-Pine volunteer staff provide Case Management, which includes paying for and providing access to State ID, with partner Fulton County Health Department provides on-site TB/RPR screening, and provision of all documents necessary for moving on into more stable shelter or housing.
Residents of Peachtree-Pine are transported to Good Samaritan Clinic weekly as needed for treatment and health maintenance, including dental care, counseling and general medical primary care, which is offered indefinitely, wherever the individual goes.
PLEASE JOIN US TO MAKE THIS URGENT DEMAND OF THE MAYOR AND THE ATLANTA POLICE DEPARTMENT! Call The Mayor’s Office (404-330-6100) and
Chief Turner’s Office (404-906-9825 or 404-906-0125) and demand protection for the residents and guests of Peachtree-Pine.
Note: the photos and videos are by Heather Gray.