Metro Atlantans Rally over Black Man Found Hanging in Tree in Midtown Park
Photograph courtesy of Laura Emiko Soltis.
(APN) ATLANTA — Two gigantic rallies have been held in the last two days since the tragic discovery of a deceased Black man hanging in a tree in Piedmont Park on the morning of Thursday, July 07, 2016.
The first rally on Thursday evening, was held in immediate response to the news of the discovery.
The news ignited a huge demonstration in Atlanta of over 1,000 people, which was organized in less than 24 hours by Rise Up Georgia, Malcolm X Grassroots Movement, Freedom University, and Black Lives Matter Atlanta.
The second rally, on Friday, July 08, of some ten thousand people, was held in solidarity with protests all over the U.S. regarding two of the latest shocking examples of police brutality and killings–Philando Castile, of St. Paul, Minnesota; and Alton Sterling, of Baton Rouge, Louisiana.
On Thursday evening, the Atlanta Police Department (APD) released additional information to Atlanta Progressive News.
APD told APN that next to the tree where the Black man was hanging in Piedmont Park, there was a garbage can with shoe prints with the same pattern as the shoes the victim was wearing.
The Black male had marks consistent with climbing a tree to the front of his blue jeans with no defensive injuries to his hands or body, APD said.
The ground around the tree was wet with no signs of a struggle. The Medical Examiner found no identification in the man’s belongings, according to the APD report.
Even though some evidence points to a the possibility of a suicide, according to the police, the case has been turned over to the FBI; and additional information may be discovered as the investigation continues.
Many people criticized, and did not believe, an earlier report from Thursday, suggesting the hanging to be a possible suicide, which did not include any additional information.
To many, the Black man hanged in Piedmont Park, still looks like a lynching, especially if it is proven that the Klan was in the park only hours before his lifeless body was discovered.
In an environment of numerous videos of police killing Black men, many people are already on edge.
Then, when it was alleged that the Ku Klux Klan (KKK) was handing out leaflets in Piedmont Park on Wednesday–the day before the body was discovered–the community became outraged.
Atlanta Progressive News has learned that the flyers, images of which were posted to Facebook, that were allegedly found in the Piedmont Park neighborhood, appear to be quite similar to flyers that were distributed in Selma, Montgomery for the 50th Anniversary of the March on Selma that occurred last year, in 2015.
“It was suspicious with no information and with the KKK in the park the day before, it looked like a lynching,” Cai Malia with Rise Up Atlanta told APN. “That was part of the reason why we went to Piedmont Park.”
Nationwide protests were already being organized against the police shooting deaths of Philando Castile and Alton Sterling, before the hanging incident occurred in Atlanta.
According to Seyoum Bey, one of the participants, the march started from Five Points to Piedmont Park and then took North Avenue to occupy space on I-75/85 expressway blocking traffic for about ten minutes. No one was arrested.
“What happened in Louisiana, Minnesota, Atlanta, and other cities is all an interconnected problem; and not isolated incidents,” Seyoum Bey, Malcolm X Grassroots Movement, told APN.
“A study was done by Malcolm X Grassroots Movement called Operation Ghetto Storm and it shows that every 24 hours a Black person is shot down by a police officer, security guard, or vigilante; and the person doing the shooting gets away with it,” Bay tells APN.
Another reason for the march was to mourn the deaths, create community, and get contact information to build the base in Atlanta, according to Patricio Tambias with Rise Up Georgia.
“We want to create a culture that says – we do not want to live in a city where a police officer can walk away free after unreasonably killing an unarmed man going through a mental health episode,” Tambias told APN, referring to the police shooting of Anthony Hill in DeKalb County.
APN has extensively covered the Anthony Hill case.