‘Let the people vote’: Activists call for Atlanta leaders to accept petition for future public safety training center referendum

On Monday, a petition with 116,000 signatures was presented to the city clerk’s office.
Published: Sep. 14, 2023 at 1:23 PM EDT
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ATLANTA, Ga. (Atlanta News First) - Civil rights groups are once again asking Atlanta’s mayor and city council for the right to vote on whether or not the controversial future public safety training center, dubbed “Cop City” by opposers, is built.

They held a news conference Thursday outside of Atlanta City Hall in response to the city’s refusal to verify over 116,000 signatures on a petition to stop the training facility from being built.

“Let the people vote. Let the people vote. Let the people vote,” said one activist.

A plea the civil rights protestors said they feel is going unheard by City of Atlanta leaders. On Monday, a petition with 116,000 signatures was presented to the city clerk’s office.

“It’s time for the City of Atlanta to put this to a vote so the people have a voice. The purpose of governance is to be the voice of the people,” said Gerald Griggs, Georgia’s NAACP president.

City officials said they couldn’t accept the signatures, saying the petition missed an Aug. 21 deadline. The deadline had been extended to September by a federal judge, but an appellate court paused that order, throwing the effort into legal limbo.

“I’m not over the city council. I’m not over the clerk. These boxes should be counted. When the judge told them it can’t be counted because they’re late, we’re hoping the judge will figure out how to make this happen,” Atlanta Mayor Andre Dickens told one activist.

Activists gathered on the steps of city hall said this is voter suppression, plain and simple.

“This has been a full frontal assault on organizing, on progressive activists, this has been a full frontal assault on making sure that people in Atlanta can have a decision in how city resources are being spent,” said Kamua Franklin, the director of Community Movement Builders.

“It’s not my decision,” said Dickens.

Activists said several Atlanta City Council members have discussed voting Monday on whether or not to proceed with verifying the petition signatures or whether or not to have a referendum on November’s ballot over building the public safety training facility.