Tomorrow's Bonfire + The Week In Review
Welcome to my newsletter by me, King Williams. A documentary filmmaker, journalist, podcast host, and author based in Atlanta, Georgia. This is a newsletter covering the hidden connections of Atlanta to everything else.
Books and Bonfires — Tomorrow!
It’s been a while since we’ve had an in-person event, so tomorrow Saturday, May 14th, I will be hosting a meetup for both the book club and any newsletter members (plus their friends) at the Urban Farm Ornewood, 1015 Berne St SE, Atlanta, Ga 30316. The event is BYOB, plus bring your own chair, and bug repellent. Here’s what else you need to know:
You will need to park on Berne St facing east; west is a dedicated bike lane - please bike if you want!
If taking MARTA buses 107, 4, or 32 will get you close to the site but you will have a 5-8 min walk from your stop.
There is no inside access to restrooms. Please prepare ahead of time. There is a large Kroger + ChickFilA nearby if necessary, about a 2 min drive.
This event will feature another tour from Grace and the Urban Farm owner himself! IF you would like to donate, you can via Venmo @UrbanFarm-InOrmewood. The event will be canceled in the event of severe weather.
New Podcast Alert: Joseph Ferguson, the AJC: In Context
I talk to AJC reporter and video producer Joseph Ferguson. In this interview, we talk about how he ended up at the AJC, and how he pitched them on creating a video series. We also talk about the creator economy, and what traditional media companies misunderstand about video. We also talk about his stutter, something he's overcome to become a great creator. We also spend time talking about the recent acquisition of Twitter, a hub for journalists and Black creativity in Black Twitter.
Porchfest 2022 will be happening on tomorrow from 11am-7pm.
The Center for Civil and Human Rights will be free on Sunday in celebration of the 68th anniversary of the Brown v. Board of Education decision.
The Atlanta Bicycle Coalition’s Blinkie Awards will be held May 19th.
St. Luke's second annual Concert for a Cause will be held on May 20th.
The Save Our Spaces conference will be held on May 21st, I will be a host.
Music Midtown will be returning in September.
The Grant Park Summer Shade Festival is coming August 27th and 28th
Red Clay News
1. Young Thug and Gunna’s arrest is national news + a campaign strategy
Rapper Gunna has now been arrested by authorities. This comes as the Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis’s 28-member indictment has seen national attention. For Willis the opportunity to close this case including two prominent rappers will bring even more positive profile to the DA’s office. Which could lead to more funding + securing herself a more positive relationship within the state legislature as compared to her predecessor Paul Howard.
‘Atlanta crime’ is a defining issue
This comes as the 2022 legislative session saw more political support and funds go towards law enforcement efforts echoes a larger play in the 2022 election. While the tough on ‘Atlanta crime’ was already decided as a key political strategy last year. Leading to the 2022 legislative session which gave more money, political support and positive media towards law enforcement.
For Willis, the ability to include massive arrests, a new gang law, + (potentially) increased funds for the DA’s office is a win all around. This is also a win for the state legislature, including State Attorney General Chris Carr who has spent the last year going city-to-city in Georgia to get support for increased anti-gang initiatives. This comes as Carr (like Willis) have both been seen stating that gangs are responsible of upwards of 70-90% of all crime.
Tough on crime is a winning strategy
From my June 2021 newsletter: A shift from 'the left' for Democrats on policing, NYC primary
The selection of Adams offers a remix of the strong-arm policing that many New Yorkers want with the hopes of stopping the city’s recent crime wave*…
The election is far from over, but Adams's win over more progressive and leftist candidates is now being seen as a bellwether for the Dems on a national level. Adams’s election is a Rorschach test on where you believe the future of the Dems is heading.
The combo of AG Carr + Governor Kemp going to the ‘tough on crime’ well plays in a race in which both will face Democratic challengers in Jen Jordan for Attorney General and Stacey Abrams for Governor. Both of their Dem challengers will likely have to continue the about face of abandoning 2020’s calls police reform and emracing ‘tough on crime’ stances in order to even have a chance with voters. This includes heavily Democratic voters inside of the city and those outside who have been in a loop of ‘crime porn’ on local tv, social media, and in the local news ecosystem.
And just like the aforementioned crimewave in New York in my June 2021 article, these are all actually gun control issues. As shootings are down in Atlanta, but homicides are up. Willis’s big public arrests of the rappers + their crews could temper the ability of Kemp and Carr’s potential pushback on narratives about ‘Atlanta crime’.
The GOP strategy of targeting ‘Atlanta crime’ is Georgia vs Atlanta politicking
The move also is a hedge against a potential similar strategy of the need for GOP takeover. One that may occur on the campaign trail this fall if the race between Carr-Jordan and/or Kemp-Abrams is too close for comfort.
That move of ‘blaming Atlanta’ is a common trope in Atlanta vs Georgia politics, ex: the State GOP attempts at the takeover of the airport. In that trope, the (Black/liberal/democrat) city of Atlanta is portrayed as incompetent or corrupt, providing the basis for a move in the state legislature to takeover.
Or in the case of tough on crime/strong arm politics, look no further to Kemp vs KLB in 2020. It was Kemp who promised to be tough on Atlanta crime after the CNN Center and Lenox Mall were vandalized during the first day of the George Floyd protests.
In that case, Kemp called in the Georgia National Guard, after the Rayshard Brooks protests, alongside spending millions on building a fence and a barricade around the state capitol. Added by local media fetishizing on the uptick in crime versus why the police stopped policing, you have a perfect storm of strongman politics. Politics that gave us Kemp’s surge in popularity, KLB stepping down, and crime being the #1 issue of the 2021 electoral season despite other issues of equal or greater importance.
Fani Willis’s message, in addition to the expansion of police rights by the state and people wanting to solve Atlanta’s crime issue, could be protection in the greater aggregate against a GOP campaign that is firing on all cylinders.
2. Mayor Dickens’s city budget scrutinized for lack of affordable housing
Mayor Dickens’s recent city budget has been criticized for its lack of funds to go towards affordable housing. The budget’s criticism comes from Dickens’s time on the city council and his 2021 electoral campaign where he championed affordable housing.
3. Republicans are leading Dems in early primary voting
Currently, Republicans lead in overall turnout above Democrats. The combination of culture wars, Kemp’s two year win streak and frustration with inflation + economy, has the GOP out front and center so far.
While several Democrat and Republican candidates are calling for paper ballots. This comes after several voters in Cobb, DeKalb, and Fulton have received inaccurate ballots. DeKalb County has stated that it has fixed its ballot issues before the start of early voting. While most issues have now been resolved.
4. Slutty Vegan is valued at $100 million dollars
Atlanta-founded Slutty Vegan has recently announced that it has raised $25 million dollars from a group of investors including national chain Shake Shack’s parent company. The move has pegged the vegan burger chain at $100 million dollars. Slutty Vegan is looking to expand with 20 new restaurants according to founder Pinky Cole.
5. The Gathering Spot is sold to Greenwood Bank
In one of the rare Black owned/operated B-to-B transactions on both ends, Atlanta-based co-working space The Gathering Spot (TGS), founded in 2016 by Ryan Wilson and TK Petersen has been sold to Atlanta-based Greenwood Bank. Greenwood Bank is a Black bank founded by Atlanta tech leader Paul Judge, Atlanta ambassador Andrew Young, and rapper Michael ‘Killer Mike’ Render. The terms of the deal have not been disclosed but TGS has been recently on the expansion over the last few years with openings in DC and LA as potential expansion into Houston as well.
Other red clay news:
Gwinnett Tax Commissioner Tiffany Porter has died at 43 due to breast cancer.
The Delaware State University Women’s Lacrosse Team felt racially harassed by the Liberty County Sheriffs after a recent visit to the state for a match.
Statewide evictions are up as the last of pandemic relief funds are drying up.
The Atlanta Fire Department is claiming low staffing as Mayor Dickens has pledged to increase pay.
The Biden administration has suspended a plan by the state of Georgia to bypass the Obamacare site.
The Georgia High School Association has banned trans athletes from competing in sports that are not their assigned gender.
The James Cox Foundation has donated $30 million to complete the Beltline.
A judge has ruled against concrete crushing efforts by MetroGreen Recycling.
Republican Mitchell Kaye has won a special election to replace Matt Dollar.
Cobb County’s Northwest Water Reclamation Facility has released over 7 million gallons of wastewater into Lake Allatoona.
The Chatham County Board of Commissioners is going to vote on whether to implement a fire fee or a fire tax for the unincorporated sections of the county.
The city is proposing to use $9.1 million to relocate residents of Forest Cove.
The city of Atlanta will be issuing a $999,000 settlement in relation to a 2017 police shooting of a North Carolina man.
The city of Brookhaven has received full ownership of a 21-acre park from DeKalb County, for $1 on the condition it builds a servicing library.
Fulton DA Fani Willis’s office has announced that a special grand jury has been selected to investigate whether former President Trump tried to influence the 2020 election in Georgia illegally.
The Athens-based Linnentown Project is seeking $5 million in reparations.
More DeKalb County students have begun to show conditions of their schools as the DeKalb School of the Arts have followed North Druid Hills lead in videos.
1. Elon Musk is pausing deal to buy Twitter
Elon Musk is suspending his deal to acquire Twitter after the company’s stock has dropped in recent days, following an overall trend of tech related stocks also faltering. This includes more than $7 trillion dollars in value be wiped away in the stock market.
2. Baby formula is high demand across the US
A severe shortage of baby formula is happening across the US as demand is rising.
One of the biggest reasons besides supply chain issues is the role of pharmaceutical company Abbott, the manufacturer of baby formula’s Similac, Alimentum and EleCare, controlling over 40% of the US market. Since last year, Abbott has been aware of the issues in both supply and quality control. The company as early as 2019 instead decided to pay back shareholders billions instead of addressing the issues.
The company was already under watch by the Food and Drug Administration in 2021 over concerns its products were potentially harboring a harmful bacteria. The company dismissed the concerns, paid shareholders and never increased its supply. Abbott says it will take about two months to boost its supply.
For more on this I would read this: Big Bottle and the Baby Formula Apocalypse
3. Biden administration is considering giving out gas cards
The Biden administration is considering $100 per month gas stimulus payments to residents who qualify until the end of 2022. This comes as gas companies despite the concerns have kept prices up throughout 2022. Oil and gas manufacturers are likely to see a record setting year of revenue and profits, with the gas stimulus aiding in that. While Americans are paying a record high of $4.43 a gallon at the pump for gas.
4. Dems fail on protecting abortion rights
The Dems have to take another loss on abortion rights this week as the Senate in a 51-49 vote has failed to codify abortion rights. 49 of 50 Democrats voted in favor of abortion with West Virginia Democratic Senator Joe Manchin denying the Dems once again. This comes as the lingering abolishment of Roe v Wade will come next month courtesy of the Republican stacked 6-3 Supreme Court. Adding to this is Senator Mitch McConnell hinting that once the GOP takes over the House and Senate next year, they may block abortion nationwide.
Other national news:
Lisa Cook has been confirmed to be the first Black woman to serve on the Federal Reserve Board.
Karine Jean-Pierre is the first Black White and LGBTQ House Press Secretary.
The state of California has a record setting $97.5 billion dollar surplus.
California’s has also rejected a plan of desalination to address a massive drought growing at a rapid pace in the state.
TurboTax has been forced to pay customers $141 million dollars after deliberately steering them from free filing services.
1. Russia-Ukraine updates
Russian troops have pulled away from Kharkiv, Ukraine's second largest city as local forces have launched a successful counteroffensive. This comes as Finland and Sweden have both expressed membership in joining NATO. While Turkey, home of a Putin-supporting political regime is supporting Russia in being concerned of both Nordic countries attempting to join. Russia has threatened nuclear retaliation if both countries were to join as well as any further US interference. While Russia’s currency, the ruble has rebounded to become one the world’s best performing currency.
2. Israeli troops kill Palestinian journalist Shireen ABu Akleh
An Israeli sniper has killed journalist Shireen ABu Akleh. Akleh’s murder and subsequent attack on her casket, have led to more clashes within the country. Akleh was killed during an Israeli raid in the West Bank while wearing her press uniform.
Akleh was a twenty year journalist in the region who covered human rights abuses and conflict within the occupied Palestinian territory. Her murder has sparked the largest public support of a Palestinian figure since the death of Yasser Arafat in 2004.
3. Crypto currencies are taking massive hits
Across the globe, crypto currencies are taking massive hits as they have shredded over $1 trillion in value over the last 6 months. Both Bitcoin and Etherium are down 58% and 60% respectively. While Luna, another stablecoin collapsed from a high of $85 to 0. Crypto currency platform Coinbase has seen its company lose 82% of its value as across the world have faltered and users have begun leaving the platform. All of this happening as the US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) is looking to tighten regulation on currencies. All is not lost as El Salvador has just purchased more bitcoin as the currency has taken a dip and hedgefund investor Ark capital has also purchased.
Other international news:
Global warming has led to the collapse of a Pakistan bridge.
The war in Ukraine is making oil exporting Qatar one of the world’s richest.
North Korea has confirmed its first case of covid-19 in the country.
El Salvador has also sentenced a woman to 30 years in prison for an abortion.
I hope to see you tomorrow! - KJW