By Special to the Daily World
Mayor Kasim Reed on Tuesday revoked the executive order he issued on Monday, Oct.17, allowing Occupy Atlanta protesters to remain legally in Woodruff Park after 11 p.m. Mayor Reed based his decision on concerns about public safety and escalating tension in the park. Throughout the day on Tuesday, one protester openly walked through the park with an AK47 assault rifle, according to city reports.
At 11:50 p.m., city officials entered Woodruff Park and announced to protesters that anyone remaining in the park after midnight would face arrest. Two subsequent warnings were issued and at approximately 12:45 a.m., Atlanta police officers entered the park and arrested 53 Occupy Atlanta protesters without incident. Arrestees were transported to the Atlanta Detention Center, including WAOK Talk Host Derrick Boazman, and state Sen. Vincent Fort.
“For more than two weeks, the City of Atlanta, downtown residents and business owners have shown tolerance and patience for the members of Occupy Atlanta,” Reed said. “The protesters, however, moved from conducting an initially peaceful demonstration to increasingly aggressive actions. These actions led to my decision today to revoke the executive order. I would like to commend the Atlanta Police Department on executing an operation that resulted in no incidents.”
Reed on Monday met with more than two dozen faith-based leaders for more than an hour in his office and asked for their assistance in trying to negotiate with members of Occupy Atlanta.
On Tuesday, Occupy Atlanta leaders rebuffed the attempts of several leading clergy members to engage in a civil and productive dialogue about the protest. Instead, group members shouted down the clergy members on Tuesday and refused to formally meet until Thursday.
There were increasingly dangerous situations in Woodruff Park which contributed to Mayor Reed’s decision. Occupy Atlanta protesters attempted to hold an unsanctioned concert over the weekend without providing the required security or crowd control plan. Previously, demonstrators inserted wire hangers into electrical sockets to create additional power sources. A number of other fire code violations occurred, including repeated storage of propane heaters and 20-gallon propane tanks inside tents. With more than 75 tents located in a confined area, these actions demonstrated a persistent and dangerous disregard for public safety and were unlawful.
At press time, all of the protesters had been released and further demonstrations were being planned.