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Despite traffic-calming efforts, Sweet Auburn street parties push on

Sean Keenan

By Sean Keenan

The expected weekend excitement on Edgewood Avenue in Old Fourth Ward welcomed some new faces on Saturday evening, some of whom wanted to flash their guns in a show of support for the right to bear arms.

When Libertarian presidential candidate Jo Jorgensen stopped by Edgewood Avenue’s Georgia Beer Garden for a campaign stop this past weekend, a few of her supporters asked the bar owners if they could bring their assault rifles inside to pose for photos with the staunch Second Amendment advocate.

Around 9 p.m., after a series of speeches from Jorgensen and other Libertarians running for public office, bar owner Brandon Ley granted them permission — with some caveats.

“If you’re gonna bring them in, they need to be unloaded,” he said. “And you should know, some of the folks you see gathering now on the street have their own [guns], and they’re loaded, and they might not be happy to see yours.”

Giddy for the photo op, a couple Jorgensen supporters left the bar to retrieve their rifles. Five minutes later, though, they were back, sans guns.

“When we took ’em out, we figured we wouldn’t be able to cross the street,” one of the supporters said of Edgewood Avenue. “Too much commotion out there.”

By that point, young people had begun gathering along the block, revving the engines of sports cars and motorcycles and bumping bass-heavy music from sub-woofers. For just another Saturday night, this was not surprising.

So, while the political event concluded without incident, it preceded yet another raucous rally that left the street in disarray.

The Libertarians were gone before 10:30 p.m., at which point the street party was still a few hours from kicking off in earnest. But before sunrise, thanks to the hubbub that’s come to be expected on weekends, the Edgewood Avenue bar strip was littered with trash, and Atlanta Police officers had seized a few collections of guns, drugs and money from people on the street and its environs.

It seems as though the city’s transportation department, which recently installed concrete barriers to frustrate people doing donuts in the odd hours of the night and early morning, hasn’t stomped out the clamor.

Some of the neighboring business owners and residents want to see a boosted police presence on weekends. Police officials, on the other hand, say crime is down in the area and the seizures of the cash, drugs and weapons indicate a crackdown is underway.

What comes next, though, is unclear, as additional efforts to curb unsanctioned street parties — especially amid a pandemic — have come under scrutiny.

The Atlanta City Council recently passed legislation that allows police to fine or jail certain people who watch street racing or stunt driving or attend illegal car meets.

But, in addition to raising civil liberties concerns, the ordinance doesn’t do that much to dissuade people from showing up to these parties and witnessing the hoopla, according to Reporter Newspapers.

And in the council meeting where [the legislation] was approved, Susan Garrett, a city attorney heading the Law Department’s public safety division, explained that “this legislation does not allow people to be cited just for being present or watching. They have to actually do something — collect money, ride in the vehicle, or take some other affirmative action to participate in putting on the event. It’s not directed [at] and can’t be used just for a bystander.”

Asked what the recent excitement means for the law enforcement strategy, Atlanta Police officials told SaportaReport in a statement, “We take the concerns of our citizens seriously and will continue efforts to reduce crime and improve the quality of life within the community.”

(Header image, via Atlanta Police Department: One of the collections of drugs, money and guns recently seized by law enforcement.)

3 Comments

  1. Avatar
    Thomas Cassidy August 28, 2020 10:09 am

    Along with controlling, let’s imagine and create alternative, positive, fun outlets for all that energy!Report

    Reply
  2. Avatar
    Stephen Wheeler August 28, 2020 10:35 am

    IMO it’ll take more police presence on Edgewood to solve this problem, which may also present other problems. You don’t want to kill the party, just control it. It’s too bad that the Atlanta City Council isn’t thinking this problem through to find creative solutions that work. Other cities have fixed this same type problem on numerous occasions.Report

    Reply
  3. Avatar
    Greg Hodges August 28, 2020 11:48 pm

    “…….. create alternative, positive, fun outlets for all that energy! ” Hmmmm….outlets such as softball/baseball fields, tennis courts, jogging/walking trails, golf/disc courses, biking trails, city park workout stations, basketball courts, swimming pools, etc ? If I am not mistaken, these facilities have already been created, and are super (already developed and paid for) energy outlets.Report

    Reply

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