How to Handle the 'Occupiers': America's New Great Mayor

Thursday, 03 Nov 2011 10:03 AM

By Matt Towery

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Kasim Reed is a Democrat. He supports President Barack Obama. He's no candidate for converting to the GOP. But whether one is a Republican or Democrat, one should be following the career of this young and vibrant man who is teaching the rest of America how to handle a crisis.

Like mayors in many other cities, Mayor Reed of Atlanta was confronted with hundreds of protesters who took to the city's most prominent downtown park and made it their home, to live, eat, and protest against all types of groups and for all kinds of causes.

For weeks, Reed — an African-American former state legislator and attorney — quietly let the protesters "do their thing" with minimal police involvement. Reed finally issued an executive order to clear the park for many of the same reasons other mayors in America took similar actions.

But not wanting to take way Atlanta's longtime reputation as "the city too busy to hate," he chose to allow the protesters extended time in the park named after the late Robert Woodruff, the deceased Coca-Cola boss who guided the city successfully through integration in the turbulent 1960s.

Learning of an unlicensed music "festival" that was to occur at the same time and place as the "Occupy Atlanta" protesters, Reed recently took action. He recognized that the mixture of the two groups might not only be a hazard, it might be the spark needed to start true violence in downtown Atlanta.

I can tell you that even the alleged "liberal media" in Atlanta, for the most part, had their fill of the protesters, whose demeanor had become surly, their message muddled, and their endless desire for publicity overwhelming.

A few long-in-the-tooth low-level "civil rights" leaders criticized Reed when he ordered police to peacefully clear the park of the protesters. One, who shall go nameless, is known for having taken big-time money to turn the black vote out for a GOP gubernatorial nominee in the 1990s. He reproached Reed as being, in essence, a sell-out to the business community in the South's largest city. What a joke!

But now we know, scientifically, that the calm but measured approach taken by Reed turned out to be popular with the people of Atlanta. An InsiderAdvantage poll conducted for the city's biggest TV station revealed that an overwhelming 69 percent of registered voters in Atlanta said they approved of the action taken by their mayor. The poll had a margin of error of plus or minus 5 percent.

And here is the kicker: Every demographic — ranging from men, women, African-Americans, whites, you name it — favored Reed's action by a large margin. For example, African-Americans favored his removal of the protesters by 67 percent. Oh, and those "youngest voters" who seemed to dominate the pictures on the news, well, 62 percent of those "young rebels" approved of Reed's handling of the "Occupy Atlanta" group as well.

Could it be that those who took to the streets weren't voters? Could it be they weren't representative of African-Americans, who have disproportionately been hurt by the decline in both the national and Atlanta economy?

Maybe folks didn't like seeing a gentleman among the protesters carrying an assault rifle. Or just maybe Kasim Reed recognized what most mayors in America are coming to grips with — that these are a collection of all sorts of malcontents who, if not protected from their own bad judgment, will freeze to death once the first of Atlanta's cold autumn and winter nights comes to pass.

The most laughable part of the entire story was one tired, old civil rights "leader" stating that he would start a recall effort against Reed. He claims to speak for the same crowd that, when the protests first started, were literally too ignorant to recognize a true civil rights icon, Rep. John Lewis, whom they booed and refused to allow to speak to them.

Atlanta has been the home to many great black mayors over the years — Maynard Jackson, Andy Young, and Shirley Franklin, just to name a few.

Add to that list now the mayor who seems to have managed best in dealing best with the "Occupy" forces in this nation. His name is Kasim Reed, and it doesn't look like he will have any problem with that recall threat . . . not by a mile!

Matt Towery is author of the book, "Paranoid Nation: The Real Story of the 2008 Fight for the Presidency." He heads the polling and political information firm InsiderAdvantage. Following him on Twitter @matttowery.

© Creators Syndicate Inc.

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