Today, April 9th 2013, there was a riot in Edgewood, a neighborhood northeast of downtown Atlanta. The area is almost entirely residential and is about a year behind in the ongoing gentrification of Atlanta.
Around fifty people gathered for a “March Against the Police” with drums, banners, and a desire for vengeance at the playground in Edgewood Courts, an apartment complex in the back of the neighborhood. Edgewood Courts contains some of the few remaining low income housing units in Atlanta. Yesterday, the police pepper sprayed a group of kids and beat and arrested a man grieving over his lost father.
The march started off slowly — a few people started chanting All cops are bastards / Fuck the police! as drumming began. As the crowd left the complex, some people lined the streets, looking on. People walked up behind the complex toward the front of the neighborhood. As the first cop car approached, more and more people joined in. At first, the crowd seemed apprehensive about what to do, but all of a sudden something clicked. Contrary to most situations, the presence of the police did not act as a deterrent. Instead, the crowd became more excited and angry as the cops approached. A bottle was thrown at a police car and the momentum and joy picked up. What ensued was something that we will never forget. People began kicking the cop car and chased it away when it began to retreat. One pig gone. Cheers and chants filled the air as the crowd, feeling emboldened, decided to keep going.
The riot proceeded away from the Courts and the police started to put more distance between themselves and the crowd. The intensity grew as numbers swelled, fluctuating between 75 and 100+. The crowd blocked off the main entrance to the Courts, refusing to let the police drive down. What happened next could not have been anticipated.
A cop car was stopped at one of the central intersections in Edgewood. People quickly approached the squad car, even going so far as to lean in the window to shout at the cops while others banged on the side of the car. More and more people drew closer, eventually circling the car. Once it was successfully blocked and the pigs inside were intimidated, they tried to leave. The crowd joyfully sent them off with rocks, sticks, and even basketballs to speed the process. People cried out in excitement, leaping into the air for high-fives and hugs. Throughout the event not a single person made a plea for the police. It was clear the police were our common enemy.
On the way back to the apartment complex, people noticed an unmarked car coming toward the crowd up a sidestreet. People immediately responded by running toward the car and letting loose a rainstorm of pebbles, and then rocks, and then bricks. The cops threw their car into reverse and exited the area as fast as they could. Laughing, the crowd ran back down to the Courts and broke apart. A number of cop cars began circling throughout the apartments but left after people continued to throw projectiles, including a hammer, at the cops. Some kids, who had to be under 10, were even letting stones fly at cops.
All in all the police were forced to retreat 4 times — leaving the neighborhood completely. The crowd of people never backed down. An arrest occurred just outside of the neighborhood after the event; it is unclear if it is related. (Note: According to MSM, a person with cop watch Atlanta was arrested)
There’s a war on between the Edgewood residents and the cops, and the conflict is only escalating. Anger and riotous joy is the response to frequent harrassment. The day before this event the police attempted to manage a crowd of people outside the apartment complex and were met with rowdy resistance. Three people were arrested, but not one went down easy. The cops have been upping their patrols around Edgewood recently, but tonight, there aren’t any squad cars on the street.
“Neighbors throw bricks, hammers at police cars over alleged brutality,” WSB-TV Channel 2 Atlanta
“APD police crusiers pummeled with bricks during protest,” 11 Alive Atlanta
“Two Atlanta police cruisers hit by bricks, rocks,” CBS Atlanta
“Protesters throw items at police cars in NE Atlanta,” The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
“Cop Threatens Kids With Shotgun,” CopWatch footage from March 19th shot at the Edgewood Courts Apartment, Edgewood, Atlanta, GA
I never condone violence in protests. What is happening here is terrible on both sides.