Community Foundation Higher Ground 0 Comments

“Not everything that can be counted counts, and not everything that counts can be counted.” Einstein

I applaud the Mayor and the City Council for securing the commitment of $50 million to be invested in the community surrounding the Falcons’ new stadium. However, it is perplexing to me that the City continues to obstruct the livelihoods of grassroots vendors, who bring merchandise, personality, and character to downtown and around the major sporting venues. No permits for street vending have been issued by the City of Atlanta this year and authorities have been instructed to shutdown all Turner Field, Georgia Dome, West End, and downtown vendor stands, devastating income opportunities for over 30 families during the Braves home opening, the Final Four, and spring break.

A Fulton County Court, in favor of the local vendors, recently struck down the City’s agreement with General Growth Properties (GGP) to manage all street vending, ruling that the contract established an exclusive franchise and monopoly over public resources. GGP owns, develops, or manages over 200 malls in 44 States, including Cumberland, Perimeter, North Point, and Southlake Malls locally.

It is time for our City to embrace these bootstrap vendors who work hard to provide for their families, while fulfilling a demand for legal merchandise and authentic Atlanta charisma. There’s nothing wrong with requiring appropriate presentation and business etiquette, but to undermine the legitimate work efforts of struggling local street vendors in preference to well-heeled out-of state corporate entities, is unacceptable to me. The City of Atlanta must accept its responsibility to serve all of our citizens, including ‘the least of these’ and certainly those who are enterprising enough to produce work for themselves. And how can you be against panhandlers and not be for vendors?

“Everyone starts his day as a vendor of his soul, either freeing it or bringing about its ruin.” Prophet Muhammed (pbuh)

Submitted by Plemon T. El-Amin