Activists outraged after city releases largely unredacted ‘Cop City’ referendum signatures
ATLANTA, Ga. (Atlanta News First) - After more than 116,000 people signed a petition to put the future of the Atlanta Public Safety Training Center on the ballot, the city posted the signatures on its website. But most of the signee information — including names, addresses and phone numbers — was unredacted, drawing the ire of activist groups.
Last week, the Atlanta City Council passed a resolution for the clerk to digitize the petitions and post them online within 10 days. “Personally identifiable information” would be redacted in accordance with the Georgia Open Records Act, the resolution said. However, the documents were posted on Friday with only the petitioners’ date of birth blacked out.
The Vote to Stop Cop City Coalition called the move “reckless” in a statement.
“This is, at best, an egregious error, and at worst, it is a part of a continued, intentional orchestration of voter intimidation and suppression by this administration,” the statement said. “The Atlanta City Council must act, and any refusal to use their power and voice to correct this shall be understood as approval and complicity.”
The New Georgia Project Action Fund, a civic participation group, also believes the city violated the privacy of Atlanta residents, it said.
“It is a direct attack on City of Atlanta residents who have made it clear they want to have a say on this important issue,” the group’s CEO, Kendra Cotton, said in a statement. “Publishing the names, addresses, and phone numbers of petition signatories — aside from being a gross invasion of privacy — will put these people at risk of public harassment and even violence, especially knowing how controversial the issue of “Cop City” is.”
Both groups demand the city to remove the documents from its site.
The Atlanta Public Safety Training Center, often called “Cop City,” has been a center of controversy for years. Police say the 85-acre complex in DeKalb County would act as a mock city for real-world training and emergency vehicle operations, among other things.
In August, activists announced they had collected more than 100,000 signatures to put the issue on the ballot for a public vote. The city said the signatures were turned in past the legal deadline, but still accepted the boxes, while adding that the acceptance didn’t guarantee further action.
“If and when the City receives guidance from the 11th Circuit to proceed with verifying the petitions, the Office of the Municipal Clerk will begin the process that was previously outlined,” Foris Webb III, clerk emeritus for the City of Atlanta, said in a statement.
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