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Community Election Government - Federal National News

Did ‘COP CITY’ keep Mayor Andre Dickens out of the lineup at Biden’s recent Atlanta rally?


The absence of first-term Atlanta Mayor Andre Dickens from the speaker lineup at President Joe Biden’s first campaign stop in Atlanta did not go unnoticed and has raised questions about his popularity and reception among voters, especially Generation Z voters, an important voting group for Biden’s re-election.

As other dignitaries, including U.S. Rep. Hank Johnson and U.S. Rep. Lucy McBath welcomed Biden, the leader of Atlanta was not on stage and did not have a prominent role as others rallied the crowd and gave speeches. Both U.S. Sens. Jon Ossoff and Raphael Warnock gave impassioned remarks to the crowd gathered at Pullman Yards in the Old Fourth Ward, while Dickens was observed at the back of the venue speaking to the press.

Some political insiders suggest that the relatively low profile assigned to Dickens’ may be attributed to his mixed reception at past presidential campaign events. Specifically, they point to an incident at Morehouse College during the last Biden-Harris campaign visit, where Dickens encountered a combination of cheers and boos when he spoke ahead of Vice President Kamala Harris.

This reaction from students reflects broader concerns about Dickens’ popularity, particularly among younger voters, due to his handling of controversial issues such as the building of the Atlanta Public Safety Training Center, also known as “Cop City.”

The issue of Cop City has emerged as a significant point of contention in Atlanta politics, drawing sharp divisions among residents. While opponents argue that the project will exacerbate police militarization and result in the destruction of essential green spaces, supporters contend that the new training facility is crucial for enhancing police morale and retention.

Dickens and the majority-Democrat Atlanta City Council drew the ire of one of the top Democrats in the state, Stacey Abrams, when she and over two dozen leading voting rights groups in Georgia — including Fair Fight Action and New Georgia Project (founded by Abrams), penned a letter to Dickens and the Council, strongly criticizing what they described as voter suppression tactics in the state. The letter was sent after an announcement was made by the City that they would employ “signature matching” to verify petitions for a ballot initiative referendum on whether to build the “Cop City.”

Said the group, “Democracy calls on us to defend the right to participate in our civic process, not only when it is politically expedient or easy, but in every instance––without fail.”

The decision to exclude Dickens from the speaking roles at the Biden rally may signal a strategic move by the presidential campaign to avoid potential negative reactions from the audience and to avoid attaching the upset this group of voters feel towards Dickens onto Biden. With concerns about Dickens’ unpopularity in certain circles, particularly among younger voters, his absence from the spotlight during such events could be seen as an attempt to mitigate any backlash that might affect the overall message of the campaign.

With the Presidential Primaries concluded, attention now turns to re-election efforts of President Biden and Vice President Harris in Atlanta and in Georgia. Given Dickens’ mixed reception at past events and his association with controversial projects like Cop City, there may be some uncertainty about his effectiveness as a campaign surrogate for the Biden-Harris ticket. Political experts wonder if the Biden camp has done any polling on this topic to determine any potential backlash.

Many are curious to see whether Dickens will be involved or if he will prioritize rehabilitating his own image among Generation Z voters, who are critical of Dickens’ actions and policies, in preparation for his own re-election bid. They say he will have to address concerns about Cop City and other contentious issues, as well as engage directly with younger constituents to understand their perspectives and priorities around this topic.

Whether he chooses to align himself closely with the Biden-Harris campaign or focus on his own re-election efforts, Dickens will need to navigate carefully to secure support and rebuild trust among voters who are anti Cop City.


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