Joe Biden’s critique of Mayor Bloomberg in the Nevada debate for not taking care of his City and its people during his tenure as NYC mayor applies with equal force to Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms. Mayor Bottoms has not done enough to address Atlanta’s reputation as the 4th fastest gentrifying city, its ranking as the most unequal city in America for a 2nd year in a row, and as a place from which black people are being rapidly displaced on her watch.
So we’re hittin’ the road to South Carolina to let Joe Biden (and the other candidates) know what his key southern surrogate is doing to black, brown and working-class people and legacy communities in Atlanta.
We want Joe Biden to hold his surrogate Atlanta Mayor Bottoms to the same standard to which he holds his opponent.
Flooding in Peoplestown, resulting from overdevelopment and decades of neglect, prompted former Mayor Kasim Reed to create a plan to build a park, waterfall, pond and educational gazebo to mitigate the flooding. Mayor Reed exempted then-93 year old Ms. Mattie Jackson from the takings and demolished more than 20 homes on a block in the heart of a historic black neighborhood in Atlanta. Four families who were suspicious of the City’s motives refused to settle and were sued in 2016. Their names were removed from the deeds to their property and they continue to pay their mortgages, even though they face the daily risk of eviction.
In the course of the 3 years of litigation, emails surfaced which were authored by the City engineer, who was the project manager for the proposed park and pond, which clearly documented that there was no engineering data to support the taking of the entire block of homes and that the proposed plan was not necessary to mitigate the flooding (see video of Kimberly Scott and attached 2013 emails). Of the 27 homes that were on the block, only 5 remain, including the home of Ms. Mattie Jackson, who turned 98 on 2/20/20. The City’s attorneys have stated repeatedly in court and at City Hall that as soon as she dies they will take her home.
The current Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms, voted to pass the ordinance authorizing the use of eminent domain when she was an Atlanta city council member. She has been made aware of the error made by the City of Atlanta in taking the homes in Peoplestown. The remaining residents on the Peoplestown block have repeatedly asked her to do the right thing and withdraw the lawsuits. As a key surrogate of Presidential Candidate Joe Biden, Mayor Bottoms’ actions, the unlawful taking of homes and the resulting displacement of black families, are not compatible with Biden’s anti-gentrification platform.