This morning’s meeting between representatives of the Black Lives Matter movement and Mayor Kasim Reed were a picture of competing demands with some protestors saying they were shut out of the two hour meeting at city hall.
Members of #ATLisReady, the group that led last week’s protest marches and demonstrations in the wake of the killing of two black men by police officers in Louisiana and Minnesota, said they were shut out of the meeting. They protested outside city hall and in the lobby – many wearing t-shirts emblazoned with the words “Unlovable Little Brat,” the term used by former mayor Andrew Young to describe some protestors. Four representatives who did get into the meeting left early, storming out shouting “power to the people” and “we have nothing to lose but our chains.” R&B musician Usher, who was in attendance at the meeting, attempted to calm protestors, but was shouted down.
On social media, #ATLisReady aired their dissatisfaction with the meeting being held behind closed doors. The group also linked to a list of 25 demands they wanted an immediate response to, which the mayor declined to give. They also called for a rally on Monday night, set to begin at 8 p.m. at city hall.
Following the meeting, Mayor Reed told the media that the #ATLisReady representatives wanted “yes or no responses to their list of demands, which I declined to give.” Reed said he would review the list of demands, which include an overhaul in training of the Atlanta Police Department, the end of “Operation Whiplash” (an Atlanta police operation to crack down on guns in neighborhoods the protestors say leads to racial profiling), to end a training exchange with Israeli police; abolishing no-knock warrants; and the diversion of APD funding to equitable housing solutions. You can read the full list of demands at this link.
“This meeting wasn’t about getting a deal, but having a conversation,” Reed said. “What I heard most often today was that folks want a different relationship with their police department.
Reed said he didn’t “want to make another city’s problem Atlanta’s problem” and said many of the concerns from members of Black Lives Matter organization members were already being implemented by the city.
Sir Maejor, who represents Black Lives Matter of Greater Atlanta, said during the media briefing that the mayor listened to demands. “You are going to find people protesting without a cause and just because they are on TV. There are different agendas, organizations trying to get their name on the map and fighting over press coverage. Today’s meeting was about understanding what the issues are. There’s a diplomatic way of going about things and then there’s shouting, making demands and using bully tactics. The mayor heard our concerns. We want our police officers to be more engaged with the community and de-escalate vs escalate.”