Decatur releases statement on recent protests

Posted by Decaturish.com March 27, 2015
Photo of BlackBrunchATL protests obtained via Twitter.

Photo of BlackBrunchATL protests obtained via Twitter.

The city of Decatur released a statement on Friday afternoon about recent protests in the city. Entitled “Statement on civic space in Decatur,” it addressed the city’s role as the county seat of DeKalb County and as a result, a place for people to gather.

On Sunday, March 22, activists protesting recent shootings of black suspects by police officers stormed local restaurants to air their grievances during brunch. However, none of the shootings cited by protesters occurred in the city of Decatur or involved Decatur Police officers. Local business owners responded by calling the police.

In Friday’s statement, Mayor Jim Baskett said of the events, “Our police officers have responded appropriately and professionally by instructing participants that they cannot protest on private property without permission from the owner. They can protest on public sidewalks as long as they do not obstruct others from using the sidewalks and if they want to have a parade they would need to secure a permit. In the future we would hope that if these individuals are interested in making a statement to DeKalb County that they would choose a venue more closely associated with the county that would allow their voices to be heard by those they are trying to reach.”

Police Chief Mike Booker said in the statement, “The Decatur Police Department respects and acknowledges the individual right of every person in this country to assemble peaceably in public. Every Decatur officer is trained to respond to protests and protestors respectfully and professionally. This department will continue to uphold the highest standards when balancing protestors’ constitutional rights with the rights of others who may be impacted.”

Here’s the statement in its entirety:

Statement on civic space in Decatur

The City of Decatur has intentionally created an attractive, accessible and safe environment for public life. This combined with the city’s role as the county seat of DeKalb County means people gather here all the time, whether for a festival, to enjoy the nice weather or to demonstrate about an issue they feel passionately about. We are viewed as the civic heart of the county and this creates the challenge of democracy in Decatur. Over the past few weeks there have been several protests in and around the Square on both public and private property.

“Our police officers have responded appropriately and professionally by instructing participants that they cannot protest on private property without permission from the owner,” stated Mayor Jim Baskett. “They can protest on public sidewalks as long as they do not obstruct others from using the sidewalks and if they want to have a parade they would need to secure a permit. In the future we would hope that if these individuals are interested in making a statement to DeKalb County that they would choose a venue more closely associated with the county that would allow their voices to be heard by those they are trying to reach.”

Decatur is committed to civic space and public discourse. Civic space is a crucial component of any community, including ours. Peaceful gatherings play a valuable role in our society and will continue to be treated with respect by city staff and the Decatur Police Department.

Police Chief Mike Booker confirmed that, “The Decatur Police Department respects and acknowledges the individual right of every person in this country to assemble peaceably in public. Every Decatur officer is trained to respond to protests and protestors respectfully and professionally. This department will continue to uphold the highest standards when balancing protestors’ constitutional rights with the rights of others who may be impacted.”

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  • notapunk

    Good for Decatur. There’s a place for protest, but it’s not on private property. Signed, a child of the 60s.

  • G Buck

    Note for protesters: The path to success does not usually include pissing off people who largely support your cause.
    Failing to understand this erodes your message even further.

  • Thom McElbie

    TNB

  • Thom McElbie

    so they are protesting that the cops shot and killed one guy who had gun and did not put in down when approached by police and another guy running around naked who charged police. sounds like the cops did a damn fine job. now they are ruining meals over this nonsense? arrest them all.

  • Mawdawg

    This would stop in a hurry if every diner would leave the restaurant when the protesters walk in. If the owners lose business … well, then let them direct their anger toward the organizers of this ridiculous movement. It’s only alienating people, not converting them.

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