Its Official Black Lives Matter Atlanta!
It is official, Black Lives Matter have organized a chapter in Atlanta. The organizational meeting comes one year after activist shut down Interstate 20 in downtown Atlanta in the name of Black Lives Matter. This protest followed the killing of Michael Brown by a Ferguson, Missouri police officer.
The meeting was convened by Mary Hooks, co-Director of Southerners on New Ground (SONG), an organization that advocate for the LGBTQ community in the South. It was held at the Big Bethel African Methodist Episcopal Church on old “Sweet Auburn Avenue.”
Appropriately 300 men, women, children and transgender persons were in attendance. Among the attendees were State Senator Vincent Forte. He is poised to enter the 2017 race for mayor of Atlanta, and prominent criminal defense lawyer Gerald Griggs, Jr.
According to the media advisory announcing the gathering, the Black Lives matter organizational meeting was closed to white people. Hooks, the driving energy during the initial charter meeting, articulated that” Black Lives Matter Atlanta is a group run by Black people that represents the interest of ALL people.”
Reading from the “BlackLivesMatter Principles,” Hooks said: “We are unapologetically Black in our positioning in affirming that Black Lives Matter, we need not qualify our position. To love and desire freedom and justice for ourselves is a necessary prerequisite for wanting the same for others.”
Since last year’s demonstration on Interstate 20, the group has been unofficially active in several demonstrations against police brutality in the metropolitan Atlanta area. Hooks explained that it was time to have a formal organization so those wishing to participate will know “exactly what you are getting into.”
Hooks, who self-identifies with the pronoun “SHE”, then explained that one of the basic tenets of Black lives matter is found in Principle number 7:
“We are committed to embracing and making space for trans brothers and sisters to participate and lead. We are committed to being self-reflective and doing the work required to dismantle cis-gender privilege and uplift Black trans folk, especially Black trans women who continue to be disproportionately impacted by trans-antagonistic violence.”
According to Hooks, in recent months “there have been 27 murders of transgender people in the Atlanta area with little interest, thus far, shown by law enforcement and public officials to stem the tide of violence towards this community.
During the meeting the group was divided into several work pods. Each was tasked with developing issues confronting the Black community, and identifying an enemies and friends list.
Conspicuous on the list of issues are: injustices in the criminal justice system, a poor educational system, and neighborhood gentrification.
Three names stood out on the enemies list. They were Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed, Georgia Governor Nathan Deal and Atlanta Falcons owner Arthur Blank.
The Nation of Islam’s Atlanta Chapter and the Concerned Black Clergy of Atlanta made the friends list.
Although the meeting started a half hour later than announced, it ended on time with the chartered members chanting a poem written by Assata Shakur:
“It is our duty to fight for our freedom. It is our duty to win. We must love each other and protect each other. We have nothing to lose but our chains.”