Councilmember Sheperd holds brief press conference at police precinct during council meeting, absent during portions of public comment
ATLANTA — During today’s finance executive committee meeting in Atlanta City Council, council members reviewed Joyce Sheperd’s newly introduced ordinance, 21-O-0367, which seeks to authorize the mayor to “execute a ground lease agreement with the Atlanta Police Foundation” (APF) of approximately 381 acres of land located in the 15th district in DeKalb County. You can read our report about the ordinance, which was filed on June 7, here.
The ordinance has been held in council and council members will return to the paper in 60 days. City council also said it will host public engagement at that time and will offer tours of the site.
Local sources reported to The Mainline that protesters gathered outside of Sheperd’s residence earlier today in a demonstration to oppose the ordinance. In response, Sheperd appeared for a brief press conference at the Zone 3 police precinct to issue a statement for reporters. A video of Sheperd’s statement is available on Atlanta City Council’s official Instagram page.
Sheperd made her statement at the precinct while the Atlanta City Council meeting was still underway and playing public comments from constituents. Many of the calls during today’s meetings were residents throughout Atlanta and District 12, the area Sheperd represents, opposing the ordinance that numerous callers say they feel has happened with little or no community involvement.
After giving her statement at the small press conference at Zone 3, Sheperd said, “I had no problems introducing this [ordinance]. This is something that is truly needed for police and fire. However, I am willing to listen to what my community says.”
Sheperd delivered her statement to local media reporters around 6:15 p.m., while calls from public comment continued until after 6:45 p.m. Public comment line equated to about three hours and 41 minutes, with calls being “almost exclusively” on the ordinance Sheperd filed and introduced. The ordinance was filed as a personal paper and is co-sponsored by Councilmember Andrea Boone of District 10.
This ordinance arrives on the heels of a unanimous vote within city council to approve the city’s FY22 budget, which includes a 6% increase to the Atlanta Police Department. The main concerns from callers were the environmental impact leasing the land to APF would have on local communities and the fact that council hasn’t taken much action to involve the public. Other points of dissent include those funding the potential training facility, notably numerous corporate backers.
Councilmember J.P. Matzigkeit said, “We all know a new training facility is something this city needs,” adding that he wanted a way to have a training facility and a green space. Councilmember Natalyn Archibong agreed, saying she would like a path forward for community engagement.
Councilmember Matt Westmoreland made a motion to hold the paper, which was seconded by Councilmember Jennifer Ide. The motion to hold was unanimously approved by council members present, and city council plans to return to the paper in 60 days.