I don't speak for Occupy Atlanta, but I have been down there and feel I have a good for peoples views. It seems the media has started a smear campaign on the Occupy Atlanta movement, because of them "not letting John Lewis Speak." I was down at the General Assembly on Friday, and this is not what happened.
First he did not ask to speak. He was asked to speak and said he would. When it was announced that the GA had a special guest and that it was John Lewis he received a HUGE cheer and round of applause. When the proposal for John Lewis to speak was voted on the first time it was probably about 400 for and 2 against. One person didn't want it to be about specific people and the other was against it for procedural reasons. As proposals were revised and other people raised other objections most of which were over procedure it became clear that you couldn't get 100% agreement on this. Throughout the process people continued to thank John Lewis for being there and gratitude for his life long service. This took much longer than the 10 minute smear video would lead you to believe. This did lead to a huge frustration with many people in the crowd and some people definitely left. The thing to take away from this is democracy is dirty and hard.
This wasn't the only consensus that was extremely difficult to reach. It took nearly an hour of proposal, discussion, revised proposal, votes, and re-votes just to agree to occupy the park starting immediately. The facts are that when you have extremely diverse large groups consensus is nearly impossible. The group in Atlanta was old, young, Arab, Asian, Black, Latino, White, Democrat, Independent, Republican, we even had a don't tread on me flag. There were likely undercover cops and certainly people there to simply stir up trouble, and with the format of GA's one person can stall the whole process.
John Lewis said he wasn't upset and that he would return at a later date. As somebody who very proudly voted for John Lewis for the first time (it was my first chance in his district) I was disappointed to not be able to to hear him speak. But it was because of the format of GA and procedural reasons, and I understand that. I hope he will come back to the park and speak, and I hope I'll be up there when he does.
So please people don't jump on the conservative smear wagon if you don't truly know what happened. If you don't understand the south don't jump on the racist stereotype bandwagon. Woodruff (now renamed Troy Davis Park) is literally adjacent from John Lewis's home office. It is on the corner of Auburn Ave the street Martin Luther King Jr. was born and had his church. The other side of the park is Georgia State University one of the most diverse Universities in the country. People in Atlanta know both about Auburn Ave and John Lewis's historical significance in the Civil Rights movement. There is an African American studies library blocks away. This isn't lost on residents. John Lewis has handily won every election he has ever run in this district since 1987. He has never received less than 69% of the vote, and in a bad climate in 2010 received 72% of the vote. The demographics of his district are 37.0% White, 56.1%Black, 2.2% Asian, 6.1% Hispanic, 0.2% Native American, and has a 10% LGBT community (http://www.enotes.com/...). So as you can see it is much more diverse than the country as a whole.
I know it's popular in liberal circles to hate on the south, but grow up this isn't the old south. Hell even in the Civil Rights movement Atlanta was known as the city to busy to hate. I'm not saying there isn't racism in Atlanta or the south for that matter. But it's not the driving factor that some try to make it out to be or seem to want it to be. So try and understand what really happened at the GA with John Lewis and lets all stand in solidarity instead of dividing in to factions.
Here is the interview with John Lewis about how the event unfolded.
Thanks for who ever posted the link in a comment, but I can't seem to remember or find who it was.
If John Lewis some how reads this. I would love to see you back down at Occupy Atlanta in the future, and hope you do return. It excited me to see you down there and I know the vast majority agree. I and most Atlantans appreciate the work you've historically done and continue to do. I look forward to campaigning and voting for you in the future.