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Reporter’s Notebook: Interim APD Chief, StationSoccer, new “I Have A Dream” musical

A week in news.

In July 1996, all eyes were on Atlanta. Twenty-six years ago, the city held the 1996 Olympics, hosting 10,000 athletes from 197 countries to compete in 271 events. The games attracted two million visitors with $5.14 billion going to the local economy. Centennial Olympic Park in downtown still serves as an homage to the 1996 Games.

On to other recent local news:

Darin Schierbaum, interim APD police chief, is interviewed by Dave Wilkinson, CEO of the Atlanta Police Foundation, at the Atlanta Rotary on July 18. (Photo by Maria Saporta.)

Atlanta Rotary hears from interim APD Chief Darin Schierbaum

We as a society must learn how to better resolve conflicts in our lives.

That was one of the messages that Darin Schierbaum, Atlanta’s interim police chief, shared with the Rotary Club of Atlanta on July 18.

Schierbaum shared an example of a recent shooting at an Atlanta sandwich store where an employee was shot and killed for using too much mayonnaise.

“That’s what is motivating homicides — escalating disputes,” Schierbaum said, adding that we have to learn to “walk away” from conflict. “That’s what driving homicides.”

Schierbaum spoke about all the challenges and opportunities that he faces in running the state’s largest law enforcement agency. As police chief, he is working to rebuild morale among the ranks, which hit a low in 2020 during the double whammy of the Coronavirus and racial unrest.

“In 2020, we saw a lot of people leave the profession,” he said, noting the importance of pay and due process for officers in the department.

Meanwhile, APD has been recognized as a model department among the nation’s 18,000 law enforcement agencies. It is one of 16 out of the 18,000 recognized as “best in class for 21st Century policing,” Schierbaum said.

Part of that is the extensive training officers must have to work in Atlanta. That training includes going through a partnership with the National Center of Civil and Human Rights to better learn about race, equity and conflict resolution.

“All our officers learn about the injustices that have been done. We are a department in the state of reform,” Schierbaum said. “We are one of the few majority-minority police forces in the United States. Your officers must reflect the community. We have the highest number of police officers living in the city.”

He later mentioned that only 20 percent of Atlanta’s police officers live in the city. The department is working with the Atlanta Police Foundation to increase that number.

Schierbaum said the department is training all of its investigators to be “gang investigators.” It also is wanting officers to be closer to the communities that they patrol.

“We can only be successful if we have the public trust,” he said. “We are repairing or reinforcing the public trust.”

Attending the Rotary luncheon was Fulton County Sheriff Patrick Labat.

“We could not have a strong partner than Sheriff Labat,” said Schierbaum, reflecting a closer relationship between the city and the county. That said, Schierbaum added that one of the biggest challenges his department faces when trying to combat crime is the judicial system.

“We are arresting very dangerous individuals only for them to be released a week or two weeks later,” he said.

In response to a question, Schierbaum said the majority of crime in Atlanta is Black-on-Black crime. That is the by-product of a lack of opportunities for economic, employment and education in certain parts of the city.

But Schierbaum, who lives in Midtown, noted that there’s been improvement.

“In 2003, in my neighborhood, cars would be lined up to pick up prostitutes,” he said. “Now that area has been cleaned up.”

— Maria Saporta

The inaugural game at MARTA’s Kensington station on July 16. (Photo courtesy of MARTA.)

MARTA’s Kensington stop opens for StationSoccer

Last weekend, the Kensington MARTA station officially debuted as the fifth SoccerStation location in Atlanta. StationSoccer is a citywide initiative by Soccer in the Streets to craft a network of soccer fields connected by MARTA to offer a league that’s affordable and easily accessible by public transportation. 

StationSoccer kicked off at the Five Points Station in 2016 as the first soccer field in the world built inside a transit station. The program has since expanded to include five stations around Atlanta — West End, East Point and Lindbergh — with the goal of eventually forming a ten-station league.

The Kensington Station now boasts two soccer pitches and will also include community gardens and a mural by artist Kevin Bongang. 

“Soccer in the Streets is excited to open this new location and expand our vision to grow the game across the transit network,” Chairman Brian O’Neill said in a press release. “As StationSoccer grows, we will continue to provide much-needed access to the game of soccer and also provide youth with new ways to thrive both on and off the field.” 

Click here for more information on Soccer in the Streets.

— Hannah E. Jones

Author seeks local memories for biography of leftist historian Howard Zinn

A biography of the famed leftist historian Howard Zinn, who once taught at Atlanta’s Spelman College, is in the works and its author is seeking contributions from local sources.

Zinn, who died in 2010 at age 87, was known for his countercultural 1980 book “A People’s History of the United States.” 

In the 1950s and ’60s, Zinn was a professor and department chair at Spelman, where he got involved in the Civil Rights Movement and taught such students as the famed author Alice Walker. During that period, he wrote two books about racism and Civil Rights organizing: “The Southern Mystique” and “SNCC: The New Abolitionists.”

Zinn was fired in 1963, reputedly for his Civil Rights activism, and became a professor at Boston University in Massachusetts. In 2005, he returned to Spelman to give the commencement address and receive an honorary degree. 

The new Zinn biography was announced on July 20 by Dave Zirin, a journalist who writes about the intersection of sports and politics. Zirin is sports editor for The Nation and writes the blog Edge of Sports. His books include the Zinn-inspired A People’s History of Sports in the United States.

Zirin announced the biography on Twitter, saying it “won’t be a hagiography” but will take an activist approach. He described it as a two-year book project. 

“No secret that Howard was a friend, a mentor, a teacher, and a deep influence on how I see the world,” Zirin wrote. “But this won’t be just about the past. It will [be] about why Trump and legions of his minions still attack his work and why his ideas are critical for a new generation of fighters.”

Zirin said he is seeking “any stories about meeting or working with Howard,” especially from people willing to be interviewed. He can be reached by direct message through his Twitter account at @EdgeofSports

— John Ruch

(Credit: The Rialto Center for the Arts)

Musical about Dr. King give conversations about Black/Jewish relationships 

On July 28, the broadway gospel musical, “I Have A Dream” will feature a multimedia production that chronicles the major events of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr at the Rialto Center for the Arts with two showings. 

The musical, which debuted starring actor Billy Dee Williams in 1976, will include music, singing, dancing and more with over 125 historical images from the Civil Rights Movement. 

Pre-show conversations will discuss the relationship between the African American and Jewish communities.

The conversations will begin at 2:30 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. before the 3 p.m. and 8 p.m. performances. 

Click here to purchase tickets.

– Allison Joyner

EPA offers environmental workforce development job training with certifications for job opportunities

Region four of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) along with the City of East Point are partnering to host workforce development classes that will teach students how to work in the environmental remediation field and assist with local economic development. 

This 12-week training program will provide training in hazardous waste and emergency response and Georgia soil and Water Conservation Commission fundamentals. Learneres will recieve a professional development certification from Clayton State University. 

“This is a great way to expose our young adults to careers in the environmental field to improve the quality of life for our community,” said Deana Holiday Ingraham, mayor of East Point. 

Applicants must be self-motivated, driven and have a willingness to learn. They must be at least 17 years old and able to pass a drug test.

Applications are being accepted until Aug. 1, and classes will take place from Aug. 14 to Nov. 14. For more information visit the City of East Point’s website.

— Allison Joyner

Atlanta Food Bank announces two new additions to leadership team

The Atlanta Community Food Bank recently welcomed two new leaders to their executive team — Sharay Erskine is joining as chief information officer and Kenneth Hill as chief supply chain officer.

In Erskine’s new role, she will lead the investment in new systems to enhance the Food Bank’s client service model, measure and report their impact, and increase operations efficiency. With more than 20 years of experience in information technology, Erskine most recently served as Vice President of IT at Bunzl Distribution, NA in Atlanta. 

In Hill’s role as chief supply chain officer, he will lead food sourcing, inventory management and delivery operations. Before joining the team, Hill spent 30 years in various leadership roles with The Home Depot.

“As we look to the future of the organization, particularly post-pandemic, we determined that two areas of expertise were immediately critical to resourcing our mission, supply chain operations and information technology,” President and CEO Kyle Waide said in a press release. “We are pleased to announce that we have completed our extensive search to bring two new leaders into the Food Bank. Sharay and Kenny bring experience, fresh perspectives, and new capabilities to their respective roles and will be integral as we look to grow our programs and services to meet the increased demands of need.”   

The Atlanta Community Food Bank is an Atlanta-based nonprofit that works to end hunger in 29 metro Atlanta and North Georgia counties. Through more than 700 nonprofit partners, the Food Bank reaches over 715,00 people each year.

— Hannah E. Jones

(Credit: The Alliance Theatre.)

Alliance Theatre provides performances of new musical for sensory-sensitive audiences

To provide more opportunities for sensory-sensitive audiences, the Alliance Theatre will hold two special events of the world-premiere musical showing of “The Incredible Book Eating Boy.”

On Saturday, July 24 at 10 a.m., the theatre will hold a Meet Your Seat experience which will have crew members and technicians show examples of loud or bright technical elements from the production, giving families a chance to make a plan for self-regulation at the time they see the show.

Relaxed performance on Friday, Aug. 5 at 5 p.m. will show modifications of the performance including reduced volume of loud noises and effects, elimination of strobe lights and heightened lighting in the auditorium, adaptation for specific movements or lines and a relaxed attitude toward sound and movement in the audience. 

Tickets for these performances are available here and tickets for teachers with valid teachers IDs free for select early performances are available here

— Allison Joyner

Upcoming Atlanta Police Department Recruitment Day at Lenox

On Saturday, July 23, the Atlanta Police Department is hosting a recruitment event at Lenox Square to find “dedicated, community-minded individuals” to join the team. 

Folks who are interested should submit an online application before the job fair, and come ready to interview. To participate, you must bring a valid driver’s license.

The check-in table will be on Lenox Square’s Mall Level outside Bloomingdales, running from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Click here for additional information about the upcoming job fair.

— Hannah E. Jones

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Hannah E. Jones

Hannah Jones is an Atlanta native and Georgia State University graduate, with a major in journalism and minor in public policy. She began studying journalism in high school and has since served as a reporter and editor for two newspapers. Hannah managed the Arts and Living section of The Signal, Georgia State’s independent award-winning newspaper. She has a passion for environmental issues, urban life and telling a good story. Hannah can be reached at hannah@saportareport.com.

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