Chamblee54

Fair Street Bottom

Posted in Georgia History, Library of Congress, Politics, Race by chamblee54 on April 29, 2021


Twenty nine years ago, after the Rodney King verdict was announced, America was in turmoil. This story was originally told, in much greater detail, in 2018. It details a disturbance in Atlanta, in a neighborhood near Atlanta University Center. One of the players during this event was a Spelman College freshman named Stacey Abrams. It is not known how much of a role she had in firing up the neighborhood residents who looted a Korean grocery store.

Recently, Miss Abrams has been rabble-rousing about sb202. When people react to her leadership, and start to boycott GA, Miss Abrams claims to have been opposed to an actual boycott. Miss Abrams has based her political career on making trouble about voting access. She should not be surprised when people pay attention to her demagoguery, and take action. When you start a fire, you don’t know where it is going to go. High octane rhetoric works in unexpected ways.

Stacey Abrams appeared on Democracy Now. “So, I was a student at Spelman. I was a freshman. It was 1992, April. … And so, after the Rodney King verdict was announced, there were riots in Los Angeles, but there were also small riots in Georgia, including in that area. The reaction from the mayor was to actually cordon off that entire community, both the universities and the housing developments and then surrounding neighborhoods. And then they tear-gassed us. …

After the Rodney King verdict, in California, students at AUC led a march from the school to downtown. At some point, the march degenerated into a riot. A grocery store on Fair Street was looted. Police were called in, and tear gas was used.

“The Korean-owned grocery store located in Atlanta’s Fair Street Bottom closed early… looters from breaking the lock and prying the door up just enough to crawl under and loot the establishment. … The police finally dispersed the looters with tear gas after they tried to set fire to the building.”

“Fair Street Bottom … was in the heart of one of the city’s oldest public housing communities – John Hope Homes. With walking distance to the west near Spelman College was another housing project – University Homes. … Most of Atlanta missed the “Battle of Fair Street Bottom” unless they read or watch the news. The distance never spread beyond those few blocks …”

“I don’t remember where the phone call came from, but we were informed that some of the marchers were causing damage as they were marching back to the campus. Unfortunate for the marchers some of the young men and high school students joined the march as they passed through John Hope Homes. … By the time, I got to the Atlanta University Center, the student organizers had lost control of the march. Those marches who had a taste of destruction downtown were hell-bent on continuing. The Korean-owned 5 Star Supermarket became the focus of the headless mob, as did a few park police cars that were either turned over or set on fire. After a few hours, and quite a bit of tear gas, the Atlanta Police quelled the disturbance before nightfall. Students retreated back to their dorms and the young looters retreated back to their neighborhoods.”

“In the afternoon of April 30, 1992, a group of students swarmed off the campuses of the Atlanta University Center. A segment of the crowd headed to the downtown business district, where they looted and attacked white pedestrians. A gang of students stopped to shout racial epithets and break the windows of both the Five Star Supermarket and the Five Star Liquor Store. Glenn Park, who is the son of Plaintiffs, was working at the store; he relayed these events to a police officer.”

“On the following day around 1:30 or 2:00 p.m., students at the Atlanta University Center began to throw projectiles from windows of a dormitory at the corner of Brawley Avenue and Fair Street, which is located about three blocks from Plaintiffs’ stores. A police S.W.A.T. team used tear gas to disperse these students. … The Plaintiffs decided to close their stores and congregate in an upstairs apartment within the Five Star Supermarket as nearby police officers observed. … By 6:45 p.m., … members of the crowd began throwing rocks and breaking into Five Star Liquor Store. From his position in the police helicopter, Officer S.F. Patterson advised other officers over TAC I radio that approximately fifty to seventy-five students were vandalizing a small business at Elm and Fair.”

“On May 4, 1992, Mayor (Maynard) Jackson and Chief (Eldrin) Bell participated in another press conference in which they addressed the previous days’ events and apologized to the Korean community … Mayor Jackson also recognized the black community’s long-standing resentment of the Korean business community …” Pictures today are from The Library of Congress.

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