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In the Pittsburgh section of Atlanta

Solidarity protest against anti-gay attack

Published Feb 16, 2012 8:52 PM

Atlanta, Feb. 11 – Blustery, frigid winds buffeted the crowd gathered in support of Brandon White, a 20-year-old gay man whose videotaped beating at the hands of reputed gang members outside a corner store shocked millions of viewers nationwide. Just a week earlier, the slight youth was viciously attacked by three young men, who used anti-gay slurs as they punched and kicked him repeatedly, while two others videotaped the assault.

At the support rally, more than 100 people from the Atlanta neighborhood of Pittsburgh, elected officials including Rep. John Lewis, and members of LGBTQ and other activist organizations strongly affirmed that anti-LGBTQ violence will not be tolerated in this community.

The Pittsburgh area, like other sections of Atlanta, has been devastated by home foreclosures and high unemployment. Dozens of boarded-up and abandoned houses can be found within sight of the corner store, the scene of six murders in recent years, according to neighborhood activists.

Founded in 1883 as an African-American housing area in segregated Atlanta, community elders remember when Pittsburgh was populated by working-class families with men employed by the railroads and related industries. Located just southwest of downtown Atlanta, Pittsburgh has suffered for decades from redlining practices, so-called “urban renewal” projects, interstate highway construction, predatory lending and real estate speculation. Its residents lack recreational facilities, modern schools and libraries, easy access to supermarkets, drugstores and other shops, and well-maintained streets and parks.

Declaring that everyone has a right to feel safe, speaker after speaker called upon those gathered and all public officials to address the deeper issues underlying the violent attack. While police officials announced that one suspect had been arrested and two others had been identified, Xochitl Bervara, of Southerners on New Ground, made it clear that putting more Black youth in prison was not a solution for the lack of jobs, decent housing, education and justice: “These conditions are breeding grounds for hate and violence … and today we say no more. Enough.”

Devin Barrington-Wood, of Change Atlanta, a principal organizer of the rally, announced a number of next steps ranging from the introduction of hate crime legislation in Georgia to neighborhood safety meetings.