A feud that was once thought to be over has revived: the rainbow crosswalks at 10th Street and Piedmont Avenue. A petition calling for the reinstallation of the crosswalks has surfaced and has gained public attention, amassing over 20,000 supporters of the 25,000 goal in a little over a month.
Atlanta LGBTQ advocate Sarah Rose created the petition on Care2 earlier in April to spearhead an effort to bring back the rainbow crosswalks. Rose, who is transgender, is pushing for not only the reinstallation of the crosswalks but for making the crosswalks “a permanent Atlanta fixture — with the rainbow or trans pride flags, or a combination of both,” as the petition states.
The positioning of the crosswalks is important to Rose and the LGBTQ community as she makes a point in the petition that 10th and Piedmont is “considered by many to be the ‘epicenter’ of Atlanta’s LGBTQ district.”
Rose’s mission to bring back the crosswalks is inspired by her desire to give back to her community and to honor part of Atlanta’s history that she feels the LGBTQ community claims a stake in.
“A lot of states honor parts of their history by erecting monuments or historical markers of disenfranchised minorities,” Rose said. “Part of Atlanta’s DNA is the journey of different disenfranchised and marginalized minorities making their way to equality.”
Originally, the rainbow crosswalks were painted in 2015 for Atlanta Pride, as the rainbow is the universally accepted symbol of pride for the gay community. Two weeks after the event ended, the city decided to remove the crosswalks, claiming safety concerns involving the safe crossing of pedestrians and state regulations as the reasons for the decision.
“Unlike most artwork in the city’s collection, public safety is a significant factor in determining when to display the rainbow crosswalks,” Deputy Press Secretary Jewanna Gaither said. “Atlanta’s Department of Public Works evaluates safety issues pertaining to pedestrians and drivers on the city’s roads and applies rules established by the Federal Highway Administration’s Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices.”
The city of Atlanta and the office of Mayor Kasim Reed claim the issue is of the past and has already been dealt with.
“This issue is an old one which [the Mayor’s office] responded to back in 2015,” Gaither said.
Such a statement has Georgia State students who are members of the LGBTQ community like Chase Donnell searching for better reasons.
“I feel like they should bring the crosswalks back, and the danger aspect to them is an excuse,” Donnell said. “Bringing the crosswalks back would bring some recognition to the LGBTQ community in Atlanta as well as show the city’s solidarity with the community.”
Rose’s original goal for the petition was 13,000 signatures, and now her petition has gained the support of over 20,000 people, including City Council President Ceasar Mitchell who met with Rose at 10th and Piedmont on May 23 to publicly sign the petition. With support and signatures coming in daily, Rose feels the petition has served to unite Atlanta in a common cause.
“I think all of the support I’ve gotten has really shown the resilience and unity of the Atlanta community,” Rose said.