Thursday, July 9, 2015
Contacts: Mary Hooks, Southerners on New Ground [678.718.5091]


At 8am this morning Atlanta residents delivered a 9 foot tall ‘People’s Summons’ to the Municipal Court Building in Downtown Atlanta this morning at [8am]. The People’s Summons was addressed to Chief Justice Ward who was recently appointed by Mayor Kasim Reed to head the City of Atlanta’s Municipal Courts.Organizers of the action are part of a multi­racial Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender, led organization called Southerners on New Ground (SONG) and unveiled the summons as part of their Free From Fear Campaign in Atlanta in response to Atlanta City Council’s recently approved budget that brings the projected revenues of the Municipal Courts from $24 million in 2014 to $31 million. SONG and endorsers of the Free From Fear campaign are calling for fines and fees that are based on income, dignified community service for indigent residents and an end to Failure to Appear [FTA] warrants.

“We have reached out to Judge Ward multiple times to discuss our concerns and solutions. We hope that this will get his attention. As a public official it is critical to us he provides us a chance to discuss our proposed changes to the Municipal Court system. We are pleased that after today’s action he met with us briefly and has committed to meeting with us on July 14th.” ­ M​ary Hooks

“The municipal courts in Atlanta are not bringing justice to its residents, rather it is raising the city’s budget on the backs of those of us that are the poorest and most marginalized.” ­ Paulina Helm­-Hernandez

“As a single black mother I was forced to spend the night in the City of Atlanta jail for not being able to pay my ticket for a busted taillight . There is no justice in that. Furthermore, my livelihood and my children were put in jeopardy. ” ­ local resident Zahra Alabanza

Local lawyer Tiffany Roberts states in a recent e​ditorial in Creative Loafing, “​A​tlanta revenue from traffic tickets increased from $9.1 million in 2008 to $11.3 million in 2012, according to the Atlanta Journal­Constitution. The number of citations issued between 2009 and 2014 n​early doubled​. This increase can hardly be attributed to a spike in violations.”

The increase in ticketing is a reflection of over policing and there reliance on ticketing Atlanta residents as a key revenue stream. T​he recent lawsuit surrounding the u​nconstitutional jailing of Kevin Thomas for being unable to pay his traffic ticket in Dekalb County, GA, and the ongoing organizing in Ferguson, Missouri, reflect the increasing scrutiny of cities, counties and municipalities for their exploitative and exorbitant practices of relying on Municipal courts to generate revenue at the expense of communities that are being over­policed and surveilled: Black, immigrant, working class and poor communities.


SONG Peoples Summons July 7Peoples Summons!

Peoples Summons!