Occupy Atlanta plans Saturday reoccupation of Woodruff Park
Occupy Atlanta says it plans to retake Woodruff Park on Saturday even though the city has vowed to arrest the demonstrators a second time.
“Our position is unchanged: Our parks are free to be enjoyed by all, but we are prepared to enforce all city rules and regulations, including the 11 p.m. closing time,” said Atlanta police spokesman Carlos Campos.
Last week police arrested 52 protesters for violating a city ordinance prohibiting people from remaining in public parks past 11 p.m.
The demonstrators were released from Atlanta City Jail the following day on signature bonds.
“We have a team of 40 volunteer lawyers working on an injunction to stop the city from another illegal arrest,” said Tim Franzen, a spokesman with the group. “The goal is to keep our message front and center.”
He disputed an online report that Occupy had sought the assistance of the controversial Nation of Islam in retaking Woodruff Park.
“We have not asked the Nation of Islam to provide protection for us,” Franzen told the AJC. “If they show up it’s because they chose to be there, not because we invited them.”
The Nation of Islam, led by minister Louis Farrakhan, has been identified as a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center due to its “deeply racist, anti-Semitic and anti-gay rhetoric.”
Franzen said Occupy Atlanta will not affiliate with any organization that discriminates against another.
“I don’t think the Nation of Islam is in any kind of agreement with [Occupy Atlanta],” he said.
Attempts to reach local and national representatives of the Nation of Islam were not successful Tuesday.
About 100 members of the Occupy movement have spent the last week at the Task Force for the Homeless shelter on Peachtree and Pine. The shelter owes the city more than $147,000 in unpaid water and sewer bills and has been threatened with eviction.
The deadline to pay the water and sewer bill passed without incident Monday. Janet Ward, spokeswoman for the city’s Department of Watershed Management, told the AJC there are currently no plans to cut off services to the shelter.