Scenes from Class Struggle in Atlanta

On November 4, i witnessed a brother my age removed from a MARTA bus stop. He had sought rest there with his meager belongings. The removal was conducted by a MARTA police officer, a Millennial brother, who looked on dispassionately as the older brother moved with his things in a shopping cart to the other side of the street.

MARTA police are one tendril in a network of 14 policing agencies in the metropolitan Atlanta area. They protect property and interests of the multi-racial (though skewing white) bourgeoisie. There has been a long line of Black police chiefs and district attorney’s in the area dating back decades, but the mission has been protection of a centuries old order of Black dispossession, premature death, evidenced by the area having the highest income inequality in the country. Mapping Atlanta examines the boundaries of Atlanta policing in this post

Based on our analysis, there are multiple places across Downtown and Midtown where a person would simultaneously be subject to seven different police agencies. This is perhaps most notable around Emory’s Midtown Hospital location, where the combination of APD, Fulton County Police, Emory Police, police from Georgia Tech or Georgia State and MARTA Police, along with the Midtown Blue and Downtown Ambassadors security forces

Mapping Atlanta from

I came in on the tail end of the removal, here’s the stop, photographed a few weeks later

I offered the brother the few bills in my pocket, asked if he needed anything, he whispered a few words, gave a gesture of thanks and moved on. There was another brother at the stop, he just looked on. Had he called the cop? Had he and the older brother gotten into it? Does it matter? The sign posted on the stop says “No Loitering”

I don’t know what “loitering” means. It always feels like one those loose definitions that have, from time to time, been used to give police or arbitrary privileged (white/wealthier) people the right to tell me or people i love to leave immediately. To ask us for id, to ask the question “are you from around here” (you should go).

i refuse make excuses for violence that privileges the lives of some humans above others, because i and the people i love always seem to be the “others”. because the very laws and definitions in the those laws protect the (dis)order.

On the day I started this post, temperatures here had dropped into the teens. There were and still are people throughout DeKalb and Fulton county who are unhoused and have inadequate access to life-sustaining clothing, food, medicines.

Why is the answer to the lack of housing police and not shelter? Why is the answer to domestic violence police and not safe spaces, employment, non-policed mental health resources? Will the security cameras dispense food and a tent?

We are already the most surveilled city in the United States, with nearly 50 surveillance cameras for every 1,000 people (NOTE: this is something we can’t map because the APD denied our open records request for data on the locations of these surveillance cameras, suggesting that sharing this data would lead to terrorism)

Mapping Atlanta, from

It’s a class war but some marxists can’t get that human beings without shelter are worthy of having a voice, a political position, or even a life; that the state’s definition of “crime” and “criminal” are always arbitrary; that all it takes for a Black “working class” person to be “lumpenproletariat” is one missed parking ticket fine payment, or “loitering” — the “crime” of being within a space of non-being.

Don’t Call Police lists over a dozen alternatives to police, at least five could have been called upon as alternatives to the MARTA cops. I’ve been contributing to Atlanta’s Housing Justice League for a minute. A Home for Everyone is working with other organizations to provide resources for the un housed. Just giving money to folk that ask, without judgement, while listening, is a good tactic. Some of the brothers in our community who are facing housing and food challenges often depend on the occasional coffee or biscuit from the fast food joints to get by — so I have a to do list of stocking up on KFC gift cards. If somebody had a MARTA pass, would that protect them from the popo the next time?

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