Interview With Community Movement Builders On Their Recent Struggle On the Wendy’s Site
Several weeks ago, Rayshard Brooks – a 27-year-old New Afrikan man – was murdered by the Atlanta Police Department at a Wendy’s at South Atlanta. Media reported that armed protestors have set up barricades at the Wendy’s which by then have been burned down and graffitied up with support for Rayshard Brooks’s life, the Black Lives Matter movement, and anti-police messages. On the 4th of July, it was reported that the 7 year old New Afrikan child – Secoriea Turner – had been fatally shot near the Wendy’s site in a car while with her parents.
Due to the tragic death of Secoriea Turner, and the violence that heightened at the 4th of July weekend among the Atlanta masses, Comprador-bourgeois representative Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms declared that the armed New Afrikans must be vacated from the Wendy’s. From then on, the organization Community Movement Builders (CMB) stepped in with regards to showing support and calling for a Peace Site at the Wendy’s. Here is the interview with CMB leader, Kamau Franklin:
1. The armed protestors in Wendy’s have been occupying the site since past several weeks. Have these protestors been part of the Community Movement Builders?
Actually no, these protesters armed and unarmed have been from the local community. They were inspired to act after the killing of Mr. Brooks. My understanding is that some protesters provided security because there were threats of white supremacist coming to the Wendy’s. We were just getting involved right before the tragic shooting of the 8-year-old girl outside of the Wendy’s. Our understanding is that there are competing narratives as to what took place. Which does not make the events any more tragic and has caused the protesters to expand their vision for the peace center to include the young girl.
2. On Monday of July 14th, there have been protests declaring to “Take Back the Wendy’s” and calling for a creation of a peace center. What will the peace center’s role be in the struggle against oppression and the goals of CMB overall?
The role of the peace center is to make sure that community control is established over that property and that Wendy’s is not allowed to rebuild another hamburger chop-shop, but instead something needed and valuable is established in the community. The center will create programing against violence and will at the same time highlight the American role in perpetrating violence on Black people and how we can stop it from happening. For CMB it is important for us that we continue to advance the call for liberated territory (places where the community is in direct democratic control of land, organizations and institutions) and against the corporate and development class with support from city officials who continue to treat working class, poor and Black people as expendable.
3. Mayor Bottoms has declared that the protestors should be cleared out due to the violence that happened in ATL over the 4th of July weekend and that she will no longer be “negotiating” with the protestors. How do you think the actions of “Take Back the Wendy’s” and the call to build the peace center affected this protocol by the city government?
Well the city was never negotiating in good faith. The city was stalling hoping the protesters would go away and or possibly maneuvering to take back over the space. It seems very disingenuous that Mayor Bottoms would hold a press conference with Turner’s family but has never done this is similar cases where people have been killed in senseless violence. Our goal is to keep the pressure on to force the corporate owners and the city to have dialogue over the future of this space.
4. A lot of the news media has covered the reports of CMB’s actions in the Wendy’s site. Has there been any misrepresentation of what the news media have been reporting? If so, what are some misconceptions that you would like to clear out regarding CMB and its actions on the planned peace center?
I think its obvious that the media was looking for violence to break out and was looking to paint protesters as violent. The idea of community control over space as opposed to the capitalist private land grab model is what the corporate media supports and elevates.