Q: Why does the Atlanta Police Foundation want to build a Public Safety Training Center at the Atlanta Prison Farm?
(faq.work.) A: I don’t know. A report by the Atlanta Police Foundation (APF) doesn’t really offer a reason except that it is free land, and the size of the site gives them a lot of flexibility to do what they want. They claim the selection is the result of an exhaustive search, but that doesn’t make sense because Cobb County built theirs in an abandoned big box store, and we have plenty of those. Some people say the decision is simply the path of least resistance – the Atlanta Prison Farm is one of the largest unused tracts of land already owned by the City of Atlanta. I tend to buy that idea, but there are reasons this part of town offers them such autonomy. For generations, the southern end of Moreland Avenue has been a regional dumping ground and these choices have eroded the social and political capital of the people who live here. The fact that the farm is outside the city limits also means APF does not have to engage in the City of Atlanta’s robust community process.
The map above illustrates how residents near the farm are more likely to live near landfills and prisons than anyone else in the region. And earlier this year, the South River, which includes Intrenchment Creek flowing along the eastern border of the farm, was named the fourth most endangered river in the nation. The threat: pollution due to lax enforcement. Jackie Echols, PhD, board president of the South River Watershed Alliance describes it as “the most profound environmental injustice in metro Atlanta.” It’s a dumping ground – and if you understand these conditions and the history of urban America, the demographics of the surrounding communities won’t surprise you.
The average income of residents in this part of town is lower than most.
Families here are more likely to live in poverty.
And residents are more likely to be people of color.
Knowing that, APF tried to slide their proposal through City Hall with zero community input and without even a courtesy call to the County Commissioner. Think about that.
I don’t know why APF wants to build their facility here – especially given the national tenor about police reform and their relationship with communities of color. In addition to one more high-security complex and a magnet for anti-police protests, the noise from the outdoor shooting range, bomb detonation field, and car chase training track will be another burden for residents and local property values. Arrive at your own conclusions, but in any case, it doesn’t matter why they want to be here. The Atlanta Prison Farm on Key Road is no place for this kind of facility. >> Ryan Gravel