Around 200 Atlantans march rowdily through the downtown business district in response to police murder of a 19 year old at the Vine City MARTA station in the city’s west end.
On October 15th, 2011 at the Vine City MARTA station, in Atlanta’s West End, 19 year old Joetavius Stafford was murdered in cold blood by Robert Waldo, a white MARTA police officer.
That night was the Homecoming night for the local high school and was, ostensibly, a night to remember for many young participants — it is now, anyway. At the MARTA station, Joetavius’s brother claims that Joe had gotten into an argument with some other men and some fighting began at which point someone began yelling «Where the gun at?».
Cutting through the station a gun shot cracked and Joetavius and his brother began running away, along with everyone else. Moments later, both arms above his head, Joetavius was shot in the back by Officer Waldo who then ran up to Joetavius’s limp body and shot him twice more in the back as he lie face down.
This narrative, all-too-familiar for those living west of downtown, illustrates the underlying discourse of the State in general: THEY retain the right to suspend order, THEY retain the privelege of decision-making power, THEY get administrative leave while WE get the death penalty whether we did it or not.
In light of this horror, many participants (roughly 200) in the occupation of Troy Davis park as well as those youth from the Vine City community decided they would hold a march the following Monday night in both memory of Joetavius and in opposition to the police force who’s duty it is to enforce the control of the 1% over the will of the rest.
The march, which would grow as it went on and included a large banner and many bucket drums, made its way, firstly, to the nearest MARTA station in Five Points — immediately taking the street for the rest of the night. Congesting the lobby with people dancing and screaming and flipping off police officers helped to really solidify the antagonistic nature this march was going to take on.
The march, raucous now, made its way up Peachtree Street toward/through the business district: Suntrust, Westin Hotel, Marriot, Hard Rock Cafe, Bank of America, Hooters, Starbucks — really a terrible strip of town. Looking on, the lines were drawn: those who support Order unconditionally and without principle were horrified while those who believe in justice and support people over private property and the police that protect it either looked on smiling, raised a first in support, or joined the march.
Needless to say: the march was sick as fuck at this point with heavy dancing and drumming in the middle of a corridor which echoed our chants loudly for several blocks.
Making our way up to the Peachtree-Pine Taskforce for the Homeless (which the city is trying to close down alongside pressure from Emory University, Central Atlanta Progress, and several other corporate entities), the protesters, in a gesture of solidarity, began chanting: «Emory hates the poor/they kick the homeless out the door!» (a chant that had been developed a few days earlier at a march that attempted to force it’s way into the administrative building of the Emory Medical hospital across the street from the homeless shelter which resulted in a confrontation with police but no arrests made, thankfully).
Swiftly, the march would make it’s way up Pine street, a one-way, to come back up through the business district in full circle, still blocking the street. Returning, once again, to the Five Points MARTA station, the march decided to walk through the police precinct which sits on top of the station. A few folks grabbed a barricade to block of the entrance to the train station while many others flooded past bewildered police officers charging them with homicide, so to speak.
After encircling the entire station, the march finally came back to the occupation at Troy Davis Park where it was met, immediately, with disdain and condemnation by the marginal-yet-influential liberal professional activists.
Decrying the rage of the risen people as «stupid» and insisting that the police were part of the «99%», the liberals attempted to stamp out any expression which did not share strategic trajectory with the established left of Atlanta.
The occupation erupted into many circles, some small,others quite large, of heated debate about policing, class struggle, the murder, strategy, diversity of tactics and more: which marked a huge break with the Bonnarroo feel of the previous few days — it had taken the initiative of 200 people to march around screaming «fuck the police» to drudge up conversation that should have never stopped happening.
Predictably, the voice of pacifism was expressed mostly by the white middle class participants and those in favor of diversity were a diverse group of people — many of which had never had an explicitly political experience until then.
The domination of the pacifist idealogues was pervasive, as usual (perhaps as few as 10 people screaming and interrupting a gathering of some 200 people). It was claimed that it was «hard to tell the marchers apart from the occupation which is supposed to be nonviolent»; which is a phrase that, we feel, actually argues OUR point: people vote with their feet, not with their raised hands (so much for «consensus» in these spaces).
This march was extremely diverse, along racial and gender-lines. One of the most racially diverse moments of the occupation thus far.
The insistence for those who participated in the march is simple: to allow for a diverse, successful, movement, we must allow for a diversity of tactics.
«Fuck the pigs/we don’t need ‘em!/What we want is total freedom!»
«Hate, hate, hate!/The hate inside of me!/All Cops Are Bastards:/A-C-A-B»
«Emory hates the poor!/The kick the homeless out the door!»
«No Justice/No Peace/Fuck the Police.»
«Hey, MARTA/You can’t hide!/We charge you with homicide!»
«Atlanta to Egypt/New York to Greece/Say it loud, Say it proud/Fuck the police!»