The Jolt: Say good-bye to Confederate Avenue in Atlanta

Confederate flag runner Alan Keck (left) debates Grant Park resident Katie Kurumada (right) about the petition to change the name of Confederate Avenue last August. Keck runs in the park three days a week and is concerned about the heritage aspect of Confederate names and symbols. JOHN SPINK/JSPINK@AJC.COM

Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed today will take formal possession of a report on streets and monuments to Confederate cause and its leaders within the city – and what should be done with them.

Confederate Avenue could disappear as quickly as next week.

In an interview with Denis O’Hayer of WABE (90.1FM) just as the weekend broke, Reed gave a preview of what the report would say:

“Candidly, they want action taken immediately on streets that it really doesn’t take a scholar to understand that they’re offensive. So regarding streets like Confederate Avenue, East Confederate Avenue, any street named after Confederate leaders like Nathan Bedford Forrest or John B. Gordon or Robert E. Lee. They believe these should be changed immediately.”

On the timing, Reed said:

“I’m going to take a few days as we go into the Thanksgiving holiday, I’m going to reflect on it all, and then I’m going to have a public meeting where I make the decisions that I make as the mayor of this city know.”

JOHN SPINK/JSPINK@AJC.COM

In 2001, as part of a bargain to pull down the 1956 state flag and its Confederate battle emblem, the Legislature was given all authority over Confederate monuments and statuary – even if they were owned by specific counties or cities.

In the interview, O’Hayer asked the mayor if he expected any legal attempts to block the city’s move to change street names. Said Reed:

“I think that it’s certainly within the city’s purview to change the name of a street. We’re going to change the name of the street. If a member of the Legislature decides that they have a different opinion, that’s something that we’ll just have to have a conversation about.

“… If it becomes the subject of litigation, then the city will do what it needs to do until a court decides. But in a short order, we’re going to take decisive action regarding the recommendations that were made related to streets, and then we have some very thoughtful legislation recommendations relating to monuments.”

It’s worth noting that even some Confederate enthusiasts admit, in backhanded fashion, that the 2001 compromise didn’t include street names.

In 2016, state Rep. Tommy Benton, R-Jefferson, introduced HB 854, under which:

[T]he name of any street or road under the jurisdiction of a political subdivision that, on January 1, 1968, was named for a veteran and whose name has been changed since such date shall on January 1, 2017, revert back to the name which such street or road was named on January 1, 1968, and shall not be subject to any further change.

In Atlanta, that would have meant a portion of Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard would have reverted to Gordon Road, in honor of Confederate Gen. John B. Gordon, an early leader of the Georgia Klan.

The bill was withdrawn after Benton made remarks supportive of the KKK.

In the WABE interview, O’Hayer noted that Reed grew up in Atlanta. He asked the mayor how aware he was of the Confederate symbolism in his community. Said Reed:

“Stone Mountain has always been offensive to me for my entire life. I was always aware of Confederate Avenue and East Confederate Avenue because there’s a part of a city facility where they take towed cars. The straight answer to your question is some were very offensive, some were not.”

***

The Atlanta mayoral campaign of Keisha Lance Bottoms has scheduled a 10 a.m. press conference in which she’s expected to show off endorsements from Jason Carter, the former Democratic candidate for governor; state Sens. Elena Parent and Nan Orrock; former state Rep. Kathy Ashe; and state Reps. Park Cannon and David Dreyer.

***

Meanwhile, Alex Wan, in a runoff for president of the Atlanta City Council with Felicia Moore, has been endorsed by the third candidate in that race, Councilman C.T. Martin. The quote of note from Martin:

“Disagreements are natural in developing policy, and he and I have had our disagreements, but unlike Ms. Moore, Alex was always respectful, so we could work toward solutions on other issues at other times.”

***

The city of Atlanta’s economic development arm is going to court over the right to receive free tickets to sporting events at the new Mercedes-Benz Stadium.

Invest Atlanta filed a petition in Fulton County Superior Court challenging a ruling by the city’s Board of Ethics that found tickets to football and soccer games at the stadium are illegal gratuities barred by city ordinance, according to The Fulton County Daily Report.

Invest Atlanta attorney Josh Belinfante said the more than $220 million the agency facilitated for the stadium, through public funds, was proof enough there was nothing “free” about the tickets. He told the newspaper the agency should be allowed the tickets to showcase the city.

The ethics agency didn’t immediately respond to requests for comment. (Greg Bluestein)

***

Gov. Nathan Deal threw state’s law enforcement community into turmoil last year, when he proposed – then passed – huge raises for members of the Georgia State Patrol.

The pay hikes have sparked a conversation on the need to raise the salaries of sheriff’s deputies and municipal police officers throughout the state. The Marietta Daily Journal on Saturday may have published the most significant response yet:

For some time now, west Cobb Commissioner Bob Weatherford has been hunting for a way to properly fund the county’s public safety department. He’s mulled floating a bond and considered a homestead option sales tax. Weatherford now believes he’s found the solution.

He’s calling it a public safety option sales tax. His plan would raise Cobb’s sales tax from 6 to 7 cents on the dollar through a public referendum. The commissioner estimates the extra penny would bring in about $138 million a year. The county would share that sum with its six cities, leaving it with an estimated $98 million.

***

It is fair to say that there’s more than a book-publishing breach between Donna Brazile, the former Democratic party chair, and former Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton.

Brazile was in town on Sunday for her book tour. Clinton was at the Fox only seven days ago, on a similar mission. From our AJC colleague Jill Vejnoska:

Brazile, 57, told her audience it was only this past February that Clinton called her for the first time after unexpectedly losing the presidency to Republican Donald Trump last Nov. 8. And Clinton hasn’t ever called again.

“That’s OK, she’s busy, she had to write her book,” Brazile, who’d taken over as interim chair of the Democratic National Committee just four months before the election, said to appreciative chuckles from the crowd of some 160 people who packed the elegant gallery located near Mercedes-Benz Stadium. “She wrote her book, I wrote my book.”

***

Democrat Stacey Abrams raised a cautious note about the push to offer Amazon a sweep of tax incentives to build its second headquarters in the city of Atlanta. The candidate for governor said in a podcast on Recode that she generally is “weary of tax incentives” to attract business, particularly if they involve tax abatements. “That means you’re not investing in schools, you’re not investing in infrastructure, you’re not investing in safety,” she said. “That comes at a cost, because you’re usually bringing new people to the community who are going to use all these services.” Abrams said the balance the state should seek to strike is a tricky one: “You want incentives that incentivize growth but not cripple the underlying infrastructure of the community.” (GB)

***

A familiar face from Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle’s office is moving over to work with U.S. Sen. David Perdue. Ben Fry, Cagle’s former chief of staff, starts today as Perdue’s state director, which puts him in charge of the Georgia Republican’s representatives and operations across the state. Fry was most recently a lobbyist with UnitedHealth Group, a major insurance underwriter. He replaces Joyce White, who has moved on to work for Perdue’s cousin, Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue, as Georgia State Director of Rural Development. (TH)

Reader Comments 0

24 comments
blindhog2017
blindhog2017

I have a family tree hung full of dead confederates.I am thankful that two direct great-great grandfathers survived long enough to procreate.I have no pride in the cause for which they fought. There is no propaganda that can change the fact that the goal of the confederacy was to keep and extend slavery and was evil to its core.Call the monuments and street names  what they are-a glorification of treason.

Grunhilda
Grunhilda

Some of the people commenting here are revolting. Trump seems to be a pied piper leading all the white trash out of their hidey holes! Trump is white trash and so is anyone supporting him. White trash is a state of mind. Trashy mind=white trash! Trump said the election would be rigged, and it was, in his favor, by his people. Trump was NOT duly elected president of the U.S.!  

booger hux4952
booger hux4952

@Grunhilda 

Grannyhideous....

White Trash?

A  news paper read, thrown away is trash...

AJC?.... you decide...I have...

Does it swing ONLY left?...yeah, I think so..Are you a racist?... I think so....

Duly elected? Yeah, I think so.... I was all in when there was 17 running...

Yall said he wouldnt make  it....Did he?

YEah, I know so....

Mister Smithwick
Mister Smithwick

The jihad to wipe out Anglo culture continues.  Meanwhile, Trump hating demokrats continue to make news with their killings.  The young woman who was mudered by three demokrats this weekend at the place on Howell Mill is typical.  The AJC has apparently stooped to new lows even for them.  Headline says WATCH: Dramatic video of robbery, shooting at Barcelona Wine Bar; $7K reward offered, but it is only a captioned recap of the crime with nothing dramatic at all.  Exploiting this terrible and senseless murder for site hits is the height of disgust.

ChristopherInATL
ChristopherInATL

I am Anglo. Please do not include me in your excuse to ramble on about protecting this racist crap. Thank you.

ChristopherInATL
ChristopherInATL

Good! As a white, Georgia native, I do not want to be associated with the Confederacy. It's embarrassing and shameful! Bring them all down!

Mister Smithwick
Mister Smithwick

@ChristopherInATL LGBT rheetard say 50 bux.  You never fit into any decent society or culture.  Admit truth for once in your miserable life.

dickshatband
dickshatband

"Ethics?  We ain't got no ethics.  We don't need no ethics!  I don't have to show you any stinkin' ethics!"

rdamrak
rdamrak

fake names/ fake accounts, same white sheet poster.

_Aaliyah.......
_Aaliyah.......

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OrangeSkull
OrangeSkull

Well everything goes full circle.  There will come a time when Americans will go after adulterers and communist sympathizers and that will bring down MLK statues.  Soon we will just be a country without any history except what is chosen by our government.     

Dianne Dianne
Dianne Dianne

The city wants to paint these street names as "racist" when it's plain to see that these people are hateful, intolerant, anti-Southern bigots. It's an abuse of power if the mayor goes along with this destruction of Atlanta history. 

weetamoe
weetamoe

@ChristopherInATL And it is horrible that these practices are going on in many African and majority Muslim countries.

ChristopherInATL
ChristopherInATL

He will and he should. There's no pride in the crating, abusing, exploiting and enslaving of other human beings. Thankfully people in this state have some sense. If you don't like it, Alabama will gladly take you.

Mister Smithwick
Mister Smithwick

@booger hux4952 Yeah he's just another in a long line of black IQ-80 buffoons given the office of Atl mayor by his IQ-77 constituency.

booger hux4952
booger hux4952

This is just a start of MORE things to come.

I say remove every damn mlk drive in America, he was tied to communist party.


Reed is a racist mayor, time for Atlanta to vote like pre Maynard Jackson days.


WAKE UP PEOPLE.

LookCloser
LookCloser

Will this stop the "blamer blacks"  (them who take no responsibility for their own lives) from whining? 


What needs to happen, in detail please tell us, before taking a knee no longer needs to happen?   What goal must be achieved?  Come on spell it out.   More monuments?  No more instances of injustice?


Ain't gonna happen, you "blamer blacks" have an open ended platform to b!t-ch.....  That is called ignorant.  And the liberal whites are stoking your flames brothers and sisters...for their gain not yours...