Minutes after daybreak on Friday, June 2, the Tent City ATL resistance camp at Turner Field was raided and destroyed by a task force led by GSU police. Camp protesters awoke to officers wearing rubber gloves and wielding knives as they began to slash tents from their pallets. Five protesters, including both GSU students and community allies, who had camped overnight were present as the raid began.
During the raid, one officer was overheard saying: “They should have been warned last night.” Turner Field Coalition leadership affirmed that the raid and destruction of the camp came without warning, despite GSU Police Chief Joseph Spillane reportedly having contact information for the resident leadership. This wasn’t the first encounter with GSU police during the 63-day occupation. During the raid, campus police also tried to intimidate camp members by threatening them with charges of criminal trespass; however, no arrests were made.
Residents, along with students and allies, have been holding space in front of Turner Field since April 1 in an effort to raise awareness about the lack of community involvement with the planning of upcoming developments around the Turner Field neighborhoods, including Summerhill and Peoplestown. For over three years, the Turner Field Benefits Coalition has been meeting and studying successful models for a legally binding community benefits agreement and has created a draft proposal. In fact, over the last few weeks Georgia State University and Carter Developments have been in ongoing negotiations with the Coalition. This raid and destruction of the camp clearly indicates a lack of good faith on the part of the university and illustrates their continued disrespect for the very communities of which they want to be a part. GSU student activists and allies are now calling for the removal of GSU President Mark Becker. While next steps for the Coalition are still being determined, the fight against gentrification and displacement of these neighborhoods is far from over.
For more information on how to get involved follow Housing Justice League on Facebook or visit the Coalition website at turnerfieldcoalition.org.
Report and photo: Reagan Cooper