Inside City Hall: Atlanta mayor tries to ease training center protest fears

A weekly roundup of the most important things you need to know about Atlanta City Hall.
Mayor Andre Dickens speaks at the Georgia Chamber of Commerce’s annual Eggs and Issues breakfast in Atlanta on Wednesday, January 11, 2023. (Arvin Temkar / arvin.temkar@ajc.com)

Credit: Arvin Temkar/AJC

Credit: Arvin Temkar/AJC

Mayor Andre Dickens speaks at the Georgia Chamber of Commerce’s annual Eggs and Issues breakfast in Atlanta on Wednesday, January 11, 2023. (Arvin Temkar / arvin.temkar@ajc.com)

Atlanta Mayor Andre Dickens told the Rotary Club of Buckhead last week that the city plans to provide police protection to the construction crews working on Atlanta’s public safety training center this year.

Dickens told folks at Maggiano’s Little Italy restaurant that he’s waiting on the final permit from DeKalb County to begin construction at the site, which will house facilities for Atlanta’s police and firefighters. But a contractor told Dickens at the meeting that her peers are deterred from bidding on the project due to the protest surrounding it.

Many activists are currently living in trees on the site, where they’re vandalizing equipment amid attacks on law enforcement and construction contractors with everything from soda cans and rocks to Molotov cocktails.

“They’re criminals, and they don’t even live in our cities,” Dickens told Buckhead residents. “Brasfield & Gorrie is still committed to doing this project, so I would get onto their coattails because if they’re not afraid, I hope that you wouldn’t be afraid.”

We were honored to have Mayor Andre Dickens at our first meeting of the year on Monday. He spoke to a packed room regarding his initiatives for the City of Atlanta in 2023.

Posted by Rotary Club of Buckhead on Tuesday, January 10, 2023

The Georgia Bureau of Investigation charged six people with domestic terrorism last month based on their alleged affiliation with the “defend the Atlanta forest” movement, which authorities deemed a domestic violent extremist group. Gov. Brian Kemp says he expects more center-related arrests in the future.

---

HelloFresh: The HelloFresh meal kit company has provided 8,000 meals per week to food-insecure Atlantans for some time now. City councilman Michael Julian Bond says he’s incurred a tab supporting HelloFresh’s work in the city, and he’s been seeking a $20,000 reimbursement since last year via his ordinance.

Several Atlanta City Council members recently removed their co-sponsorship from the ordinance and the Finance/Executive Committee ultimately tabled the proposal — again.

Atlanta Council member Michael Julian Bond speaks to the audience during the Council meeting on Monday, August 15, 2022. Miguel Martinez / miguel.martinezjimenez@ajc.com

Credit: Miguel Martinez/AJC

icon to expand image

Credit: Miguel Martinez/AJC

Bond had 11 co-sponsors at one point, but last week, Councilman Matt Westmoreland removed his name from the paper and said he didn’t remember co-signing it. Councilmembers Howard Shook, Dustin Hillis, Jason Winston and Liliana Bakhtiari removed their names as well.

Councilwoman Marci Collier Overstreet said this is her first time hearing about this even though she’s a co-sponsor. Alex Wan, one of the few councilmembers who didn’t co-sign, said he’s troubled because Bond should have discussed it with the council prior to his investment. Atlanta Deputy Chief Financial Officer Tina Wilson agreed with Wan.

“I think this is a somewhat dangerous precedent to set,” Wan said.

---

Walmart in Vine City

icon to expand image

Atlanta Councilman Byron Amos recently addressed speculation over the closure of a Walmart Supercenter on Martin Luther King Jr. Drive in Vine City. In a statement, he said he’s speaking with Walmart corporate and the store leadership’s to address concerns. He said the temporary closure has left a “deep void” in the community.

“At this moment, Walmart has not made a decision on the next steps for the location. As of now, information related to the store closure are only rumors,” the Amos statement said. “My office is working with Walmart Inc. to plan the next possible course for the store.”

---

Speaking of City Council, your lawmakers will be voting on pressing matters on Tuesday. One of their legislative items is an ordinance aimed at building a visitors center at Oakland Cemetery. They’re also voting on regulations for delivery-based commercial kitchens, and $4.7 million in financing from JP Morgan Chase Bank for six firefighter vehicles for the city.

Send us tips and feedback at Wilborn.Nobles@ajc.com.

About the Author

Editors' Picks