Over the years, we have been honored to have artists decorate our house with inspiring images and messages. Street art is an expression of our politics, and the creativity of resistance.
Now, the Atlanta Police Department claims that our art is illegal. They have issued us a code violation notice, and will file charges if we don’t destroy all the paintings on our house. We tried to explain that it’s not vandalism, it’s art which we authorized to be there. Even the law says we’re in the right, but the cops don’t care.
Why is this happening? Because developers are aggressively gentrifying Edgewood. For decades, our neighborhood has been home to mostly poor, mostly black people. Now richer white people are moving in, and they bring with them an agenda: increase property values by purging the neighborhood of “unsightly” elements.
Gentrifiers consider many things about our neighborhood “unsightly”: Young black people congregating in public. Homeless people pushing shopping carts. Poor people repairing cars on the street. And of course, graffiti.
It’s not just the style of our art, though – it’s the message. Code Enforcement said they had received numerous complaints about a prominent piece on our house which says “No Cops”. As Copwatch activists, we document the racist policing practices in the neighborhood. We expose the lies police tell and the abuses they commit. We don’t trust the cops, and we make that known.
That message is at odds with the gentrification agenda. The police work hand in hand with gentrifiers to “clean up” the neighborhood by harassing, evicting, and arresting poor black residents. For challenging that agenda, we have become targets, too.
We will not be removing any of our artwork.
In fact, we would like to add more. But challenging the city on this will be a fight, and we need support. Please spread the word about this situation and let us know if you can offer any help or advice. If you are an artist and would like to contribute more radical art to our walls, please get in touch.
For art and revolution!