Training center opponents deliver signatures for Nov. referendum. City says it’s too late

Opponents of the Atlanta Public Safety Training Center turned in a petition Monday to stop the construction and put it on the ballot for a vote.

However, the city says they will not start verifying those signatures because the deadline has passed.

All the signatures for the petition were brought in a bunch of white boxes and those boxes are now sitting in the clerk’s office at City Hall.

Officials told Channel 2′s Tyisha Fernandes that they’re in a secure area until the city can get guidance from the 11th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals on what to do next.

More than 100 people gathered outside Atlanta City Hall Monday morning to hand deliver the more than 116,000 signatures.

They say the signatures are from residents who want voters to decide if the public safety training center should be built,

“We’re certain of the fact that many of the people we talked to were unclear, unaware or did not quite understand the entirety of the process, what this facility means and who the facility would be used for,” protest organizer John Taylor said.

They’re pushing Atlanta City Council to put the training center on a ballot. But according to one of the city’s attorneys, Robert Ashe, the deadline has passed for the petition.


Initially, the coalition got an extension to provide the petition.

“We followed a federal judge’s ruling and did what we were supposed to do. We were given a 60-day extension. When we heard there was a stay on the 60-day extension, we immediately gathered the signatures and prepared them to turn them in,” Taylor said.

“The city is trying its hardest to obey state law, to obey its own code, and to be able to accommodate petitioners and their desire to turn them in today, but I think everyone in Atlanta shares an interest to see the law followed,” Ashe said.

Councilmember Liliana Bakhitiari, who said a referendum on the training center on the ballot in November, released a statement, saying:

“Today, organizers submitted the referendum petition to put Atlanta’s public safety training facility on the ballot. Throughout the debate over this facility, the City has asked that the public protest through democratic methods. The people listened, mobilized, and succeeded in submitting approximately 115,000 signatures. This is history in the making—and I must ask, which side of history do we want to be on?

“As an elected official, it is my responsibility to encourage and support the democratic process, in all its forms, and I am deeply disturbed over lack of transparency and procedural barriers that have marred the public’s ability to petition their government for redress.

“As an Atlantan standing on the shoulders of civil rights legends, it is my duty to honor that legacy. Not just with words, but with action. Regardless of where you stand on the issue, this ballot referendum will provide every Atlanta voter the opportunity to make their voice heard. I also believe that this is a much-needed step in trying to build back community trust, and that is a win for all of Atlanta.”