[ Mutual aid (definition) : a form of direct action; a “voluntary reciprocal exchange of resources and services for mutual benefit. Mutual aid projects are a form of political participation in which people take responsibility for caring for one another and changing political conditions.” ]
On Jan. 30, Atlanta Justice Alliance — one of numerous mutual aid groups in the city — reported on their group’s social media site that they were served with a notice from Atlanta Downtown Improvement District (ADID) urging them to halt their efforts in helping those experiencing houselessness, poverty, and hunger in the city.
The Atlanta Justice Alliance was founded shortly after the COVID-19 outbreak last year by city residents who were personally affected by the outbreak coupled with a faulty government response. ADID, a public-private partnership located in Georgia State University in the downtown area, stated in its notice that “public feedings are not welcome throughout the City of Atlanta” and that the group’s mutual aid effort should “consider directing [their] generosity” to an attached list of service providers “sanctioned by the City of Atlanta and Fulton County.” The letter leads with the need of residents and programs to “adjust our behaviors to positively impact the course of this viral pandemic,” as a reasoning for why the group was being served.
Atlanta Justice Alliance has documented its efforts since its inception, providing much documentation of precautions taken throughout the pandemic that they say have fared better than many bars, restaurants, and clubs that have been permitted to remain open in the state throughout the course of the pandemic. The city of Atlanta prohibits those without permits to provide food to those in need; however, the notice states that no permits were being issued at the time in light of the public health crisis caused by COVID-19. ADID then implies that its “indoor feeding programs” are a more viable solution to help those in need during the pandemic.
Atlanta Justice Alliance shared the notice and proclaimed they would not cease their mutual aid efforts. Mainline videographers Brandon Mishawn and Justin Miller caught up with organizers and volunteers of the mutual aid group the weekend after they were notified by ADID to learn more about their story and why they believe mutual aid is a more helpful system than existing government programs.
Atlanta Justice Alliance meets every Saturday at 11 a.m. in Woodruff Park in downtown Atlanta to provide mutual aid to those in need. They have also begun to partner with other organizers, mutual aid efforts, and activists to host solidarity demonstrations in the city in the wakes of those who have senselessly lost their lives to the state or white supremacist activity.
Those who are able can send donations via CashApp ($GreenBae1) or Venmo (@ATLMutualFund).