Days before Turner Field purchase finalized, Turner Field coalition still seeks CBA signature

USAS member, Aurelia Williams speaks at TFCBC rally held at City Hall, Dec. 19. Photo by Eden Getachew | The Signal
USAS member, Aurelia Williams speaks at TFCBC rally held at City Hall, Dec. 19.
Photo by Eden Getachew | The Signal

Advocates for the Turner Field community rallied outside City Hall Monday morning to promote and raise awareness for the Turner Field Community Benefits Coalition (TFCBC) and the Community Benefit Agreement (CBA).

The Coalition has long been asking for a CBA, knocking on both the doors of Carter Development President Scott Taylor, and Georgia State University President, Mark Becker.  The CBA is a document outlining how the developers of Turner Field could collaborate with the nearby communities on the terms of the sale. One of the requests of the CBA is outlined as “prevent displacement of community residents and preserve community character by investing the programs that protect long-time residents and promote an inter-generational community”.

Oliver Flint, member of United Students Against Sweatshops (USAS), said the TFCBC was aware of the impact which the city council had on preventing displacement, so Georgia State students and Turner Field residents gathered on the steps of City Hall to speak on the impact of this $30 million dollar purchase.

Student and USAS member Aurelia Williams, spoke at the rally once again calling for Becker’s  attention at the steps of City Hall.

“We want inclusive planning, transparent development, and tangible benefits for the communities around Turner Field. As such, we strongly urge Dr. Becker to commit to signing a legally binding commitment it’s benefits agreement,” she said.

Associate Minister Anthony Johnson, running for Atlanta City Council in District 11, also attended the rally in support of the Turner Field Community.

“We are praying for a favorable outcome for the community we are calling on those people in power to make the right decisions. We understand that when you have a partnership with the community and not a wall everybody wins,” he said.

After a long awaited meeting with Becker on Nov. 4, USAS still didn’t receive the signature for the CBA. But, in an interview with The Signal on Nov. 16, Becker said the topic of displacement never came up in during the meeting with USAS.

Flint said he wasn’t present at the meeting, but that the displacement was the unspoken premise of the meeting.

“We demanded this meeting with president Becker because we expressed our concern with displacement, and it was understood that the reason we wanted a Community Benefits Agreement was because we wanted to prevent displaced. So to say the meeting wasn’t about displacement because Mark Becker didn’t hear the word displacement is a little bit disingenuous,” Flint said Monday morning.

Although Georgia law prevents university employees from signing multi year contracts, Becker has the opportunity to sign a year long annually renewing CBA, said Flint.

Resident of Turner Field and TFCBC member, Sherise Brown said this is another example of how the residents of Turner Field are consistently disrespected.

“It’s been very disrespectful how this has been handled. They tried to divide and conquer, but we’re saying that’s not going to work. No CBA, no sale. Even if we have to chain ourselves arm and arm. You can lock us up, but more are going to come. Let that be the message,” said Brown.