City backs down on their criminal case against political artwork

Earlier this year, APD tried to make us remove the political slogans we had painted all over our house.  No law exists which prohibits us from painting what we want on our house, but because our messages include things like “Power to the People”, “#justice4jamar” and “No Cops”, the police wanted to make an example of us.

But after multiple court appearances and considerable legal expenses, the city has finally admitted that they have no case.  All charges have been dropped.

The city’s failed effort to bully us is not just an attack on our freedom of expression.  It’s also part of a coordinated effort to “clean up” Edgewood and continue the process of moving poor black people out to make room for luxury homes and condos.  So while this case represents a victory, there is a larger fight against gentrification and development in the neighborhood that isn’t over.

We plan to bring a lawsuit against APD.  More updates to come!

CL longread on gentrification in Edgewood

We got a quote in this deeply researched investigation of gentrification in our neighborhood – particularly the Edgewood Court Apartment complex, which is hated by developers and yuppies for being some of the only affordable housing in the area.

Other neighbors of Edgewood Court such as Marlon Kautz — one of the more divisive figures in Edgewood due to his affiliation with Copwatch of East Atlanta, an organization that monitors local police activity to prevent mistreatment within the community — are appalled by the thinking of some Arizona Lofts residents.

“The character of this neighborhood is very much defined by the people who have been here for a long time, and I think Edgewood Court is part of that,” Kautz says. “I think the perception of a lot of people moving into this neighborhood is that Edgewood Court is out of place. It’s this weird little enclave of poor black people in a neighborhood that is otherwise kind of ‘upscale and friendly.’ And that’s not my experience at all. My experience is that that is the neighborhood. That’s the neighborhood that I moved into, a mostly working-class black neighborhood.”

Video: homophobic, aggressive behavior by Wendy’s employee goes unaddressed by management and Corporate

A Wendy’s employee harassed, shoved, and sprayed Windex on a customer while making homophobic comments–and the manager backed him up.  Cai, the customer who filmed this, complained to the management of the store and was rebuffed, and later to the  Wendy’s corporate office and was ignored.  The employee has not faced any consequences for his inappropriate behavior and comments.

Racist, homophobic harassment of Wendy’s customer goes unaddressed

A Wendy’s employee verbally harassed, shoved, and sprayed Windex on a customer because he’s Black and the employee thought he was homeless and gay–and the manager backed him up.

The restaurant where Cai was harassed
The restaurant where Cai was harassed

Cai, a longtime Atlanta resident says:

Around 11:25AM on 2-28-16, while visiting a Wendy’s franchise, I was discriminated against and threatened with physical assault by one of your employees. I was not able to receive a name from this employee because he was not wearing a name tag and refused to tell me when asked. For the purposes of documentation I will continue to refer to this employee as Bully. The experience is documented as follows.

I entered the Wendys (#1496) located on 1025 Ralph David Abernathy SW Atlanta, GA 30310 and sat near the back of the store to read a book and finish a manuscript I had been writing before ordering food. During this time I was targeted by Bully. Bully began his verbal assault by comparing me with another employee named Willie. Claiming that we were twins based on the color of our skin and style of our hair. I ignored his remarks and continued reading.

The employee then became increasingly aggressive with his verbal assault moving closer to me and spraying me with window cleaning solution while washing the windows. At this point I decided to defend myself and asked him if I was in his way and to please refrain from spraying me with cleaning solution. Bully stopped spraying me with solution but continued to verbally abuse me. I once again tried to defend myself by requesting he stop but he continued, saying that I was gay and homeless.

After this barrage I took out my phone to record him. The situation became tense when I asked him his name (so I could file a complaint) but he refused. When I asked the manager on duty for information she also refused, denied me service when i tried ordering food, and told me to leave the store because i recorded Bully for bullying me. At this time Bully put his hands on me without my consent and pushed me against a wall trying to guide me to the exit without my belongings.

I protested but proceeded to gather my things (forgot my white cell phone charger). Bully claimed I wasnt moving fast enough and called in my aforementioned twin Willie to back him up in his intimidation process. To Willie’s credit he seemed unwilling to be a part of the whole ordeal. I left the store but stayed to look around the property for information that the manager was unwilling to give me (store #, address, phone number) to properly document my case to which police officer K. Smith (#6262) arrived on duty.

After hearing my situation, officer K. Smith guided me back into the store and helped me receive the information I needed but he was unable to make the employees identify themselves. At this point I thanked officer Smith for his service and left the store.

Our beautiful political art is under attack!

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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!

theteardown1

Blanket/Clothes Drive

The Teardown crew has been distributing blankets to homeless folks who sleep in tunnels and overpasses downtown. They are constantly harassed by the police and have trouble getting enough blankets to stay warm on these bitter nights.

We are asking for donations of blankets, sleeping bags, and warm clothes. You can drop them off at 80 Mayson Ave NE any time. This week they’re especially needed!