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July 17, 1974 - Image 4

Resource type:
Michigan Daily, 1974-07-17

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Atlanta potpourri: Politics, prejudice

ATLANTA, GA. - When a
p r o g r e s s i v e, fast-grow-
ing American city is success-
fully attracting conventions, in-
ternational trade and organized
crime, what could he more un-
seemly than a black mayor and
a white police chief at each
other's throats? Crowds of an-
gry black citizens marching
through the streets, being at-
tacked by club-swinging police-
men mounted on horses? Atlan-
ta has both. Some years ago
it was fo, 'iv named "the city
too busv to 4,,te" by a depart-
ing mayor.
Atlanta's troubles are a lit-
Ile reminescent of Detroit. When
Maynard Jackson was elected
the city's first black mayor last
fall1, it was widely understood
that he wastgoing to do some-
thing about the city's police de-
partment. An oppressive pres-
ence to much of the blackecom-
munity, the Atlanta Police De-
partment has recently been re-
organized into a paragon of the
m o d e r n, insurrection - alert
force. Developed with federal
Law Enforcement Assistance
Administration funds have
been: helicopter patrols, a Spe-
cial Weapons and Tactics unit
(SWAT), an elaborate crime
prevention program known as
THOR (Target Hardening Op-
portunity Reduction), a stake-
out squad and a decoy squad.
The decoy squad is similar to
the recently disbanded STRESS
unit in Detroit.
BUT DOING something about
the police department has first
meant doing something about
Police Chief John Inman. Uni-
versally disliked by liberals
and blacks for the kind of get-
tough attitude which merges
into racism, Inman was ap-
pointed during the previous ad-
ministration and oversaw the
department's revamping. Lean,
gray-haired and unsmiling, he
is also reported to be connected
to the underworld.
In a series of upset court de-
cisions since March, Inman has
managed to stymie every effort
to fire him or supersede his au-
thority, mostly because of con-
fusion over the city's new
strong mayor charter under
which Jackson took office. For a
while Inman even called the

constitutionality of the charter
into question, a situation which
threatened the new black politi-
cal power in the city. Since
then, a July 3 G e o r g i a
Supreme Court decision has up-
held the charter and freed the
mayor's hands, but the city
may not have seen the last of
its police chief in court.
March, challenging Inman with-
out researching the legal thick-
ets into which he was plunging.
Since then he has steered a cau-
tious course. While continuing
to reaffirm that Inman is "not
the best man for the job," he
has refused to speak out against
the police tactics which some of
his supporters are protesting so

been kept from holding office
until very recently, black At-
lantans have had the vote and
have been organized to use it
for years. Their interests were
advanced by an elite of preach-
ers, educators and businessmen
who sat down with the white es-
tablishment to hammer out
deals - reputedly right down
to which street would go black
Now the black politicians
have come into their own. Jack-
son pasted then-Mayor Sam
Massell in last fall's mayoral
run-off winning 59 per cent of
the total and 22 per cent of the
white despite Massell's racist
campaign. Jackson's swearing-
in ceremony, at which thous-
ands of well-heeled blacks turn-

"An oppressive presence to much of the
black community, the Atlanta Police De-
partment has been reorganized into a para-
gon of the modern, insurrection-alert

lishment is probably most upset
about is Jackson's popular
flank, his rebellious black sup-
porters led by the Rev. Hosea
Williams. In a black commun-
ity dominated so thoroughly by
its responsible leadership,
something like Williams and his
street marches is probably in-
evitable. During the most re-
cent demonstration, marchers
Oh tell Maynard Jackson
We voted for him.
And if he don't fire John In-
We'll go against him.
A poor man's agitator who
talks about using weapons if
the system doesn't prove re-
sponsive, the Rev. Hosea repre-
sents the part of the black elec-
torate which . the established
leadership will have the hardest
time controlling. Last fall he
demonstrated his ability to buck
the 'responsible leadership by
running against a Chamber can-
didate, successfully drawing off
much of the middle class and
lower class vote.
WILLIAMS HAS been leading
street actions in Atlanta for
years, most often in labor
clashes and protest's against
police brutality. The marches
didn't gain their first momen-
tum this spring until after two
decoy squad killings however,
the first police homicides since
Jackson took office. While Wil-
liams has tended to center on
Inman and the decoy squad, his
real subject is being poor, black
and dependent on a man in city
Inman didn't try to stop the
marches until June, after they
were gaining in numbers due to
the death of 17 year old Bran-
don Gibson, shot in the head
while struggling with two offic-
ers. In a melee June 26 - re-
corded by two televisions news
crews and replayed for the
benefit of the whole city that
night - officers mounted on
horses rode into a crowd swing-
ing nightsticks; some were pull-
ed from their saddles and beat-

that he fronted the entrance of
the national syndicate into At-
lanta's heretofore provincial un-
derworld. Howard is now resid-
ing in Miami.
die-bards are sticking with the
chief, his most valuable re-
sources appear to be a clever
lawyer and a few powerful
backers in the business com-
munity, ostensibly motivated by
conservative sentiments. His
lawyer is Wesley Asinoff, a tie-
'em-in-knots legal talent who
has defended Atlanta's big num-
bers operators in their brushes
with the law. Inman lives in a
house belonging to and adjoin-
ing the estate of Billy Orkin,
one of the heirs to the Orkin
pesticide fortune. Two weeks
ago Orkin was indicted for con-
spiracy to murder an insurance
company executive, allegedly
delivering a pistol and instruc-
tions into the hands of an un-
dercover police agent.
A federal grand jury is re-
ported to have been investigat-
ing Inman in May, although the
D.A. says his name came up
only in reference to other fig-
ures. If the powers that be are
worried about Inman's criminal
connections, they aren't showing
it. While the city's established
dailies have yet to print any-
thing, stories from command
level officers in the police de-
partment and from criminal fig-
ures have found their way into
two radical weeklies, the Atlan-
ta Voice and the Great Speckled
Bird. "A Mafia Take-Over in At-
lanta?" screams the Bird.
INMAN WILL probably be
tried by the--city council some-
time late this month; in May
the necessary two-thirds voted
to impeach him for planting a
police spy on the staff of the
Voice. Additional charges may
also be filed. But a trial could
prove difficult, as the chief has
threatened to file suit to dis-
qualify five councilmen for
making prejudicial statements

vociferously. When pressed, he
says only that individual "con-
venience" will have to be bal-
anced against "efficiency" in
crime prevention. His position
reflects, not only his own back-
ground, but the nature of what
is known as "responsible black
leadership" in Atlanta and its
ties to the white power struc-
What is most important for
Atlanta's blacks is what they've
already got, in other words, not
what they lack. The city is the
center of one of the fastest
growing metropolitan areas in
the country. Developers are
pouring hundreds of millions of
dollars into the downtown area
for hotels, office buildings and
commercial facilities. Unem-
ployment, although double for
blacks, is only 3.5 per cent. Con-
struction of a $1.4 billion rapid
transit system promises to ex-
pand job opportunities for poor
working people.
bility stems from the well-de-
veloped black middle class and
leadership there probably the
oldest and most entrenched in
the nation. Although they have

Michigan Daily
Edited and managed by Students at the
University of Michigan
Wednesday, July 17, 1974
News Phone: 764 0552
Scratch a maugwump.
AND YOU FIND a mugwump.
From the National Review comes news that George
McGovern, campaigning to keep his South Dakota seat
In the Senate, has equivocated harder than ever on the
issue of amnesty.
His opponent, former POW Leo Thorsness, wants to
debate the topic, but old George ducks with great agility,
saying (according to NR) "amnesty is not within the re-
sponsibilities of a United States senator."
McGovern's office in Washington complains, pre-
dictably, that the quote is out of context. The context
runs something like this: Veterans affairs are the pre-
rogative of the Senate. Amnesty is the prerogative of the
president. Since the president's position on amnesty is
clear, everyone should dump amnesty and get behind the
drive for increasing veterans' benefits.
Not surprisingly, his comments were made in a cam-
paign speech before the VFW.
McGOVERN'S LOGIC is the sort that has made the
Senate a cozy berth for good-looking lawyers who
couldn't hack practicing law, and a toothless lap-dog
while successive administrative tigers have determined
foreign and domestic policy..
Maybe Leo Thorsness has a harder head.

ed out to celebrate with more
champagne than soul, was wide-
ly compared to an inauguration.
and possessed of a perfect
toothpaste smile, the impeccab-
ly presentable Jackson is scion
of one of the South's oldest
(black) families. While serving
as vice-mayor during Massell's
administration, he built perhaps
the strongest grass-roots organ-
ization Atlanta has ever seen,
then presented himself as an
accomplished fact to black and
shite leaders.
Realizing that Jackson was
probably unbeatable, the Cham-
ber of Commerce chose Jackson
over Massell. In Atlanta, a city
which has never really known
machine politics unless it is
Jackson's, the municipality has
traditionally been dominated by
a WASP elite of bankers and
businessmen. And the Chamber,
composed largely of bankers,
utilities men, and, more re-
cently,sthe big dowtonrdevel-
opers, is it.
If the Chamber needs Jack-
son for the votes necessary to
minimize damage at election
timefoJackson needs the Cham-
ber for the kind of finance, ex-
pertise and connections neces-
sary to run a boom town.
THERE ARE complaints, of
course: that a reverse racism is
in operation down at city hall
as posts are filled; that Jack-
son is too hard to get to; that
the city council, with nine
white and nine black members,
is polarizing along racial lines.
And if the Chamber boys want
to get rid of the chief because
he's a disruptive influence they
want even more for the situa-
tion to cool down.
But while the alliance be-
tween Jackson and the down-
town commercial community is
still fragile, Jackson hasn't
done anything too upsetting ei-
ther. Visible accomplishments
have been few, although an ad-
ministrative reorganization is
being carried out. Jackson tells
his supporters that an exten-
sive system of community input
is being developed. It's just so
grass-roots, he tells skeptics,
that they can't even see it.
"(Black Atlantans')
interests were ad-
vanced by an elite of
preachers, educators
a n d businessmen
who sat down with
the white establish-
ment to hammer out
deals - reputedly
right d own to which
stre et would go
black next."

"(Police Chief) Inman is reported to have
gotten his start shaking down numbers-
runners, later graduating to liquor license
shakedowns and maybe gambling."

en; numbers of police and
marchers were injured and fif-
teen, including Williams (for
the second time in three days),
were arrested.
with the marches, Jackson has
since put two under 'his protec-
tion by executive order. Mean-
while, Inman is meeting other
threats to the commonweal. At
a recent Edgar Winter concert,
97 people were arrested for
possession of marijuana. Ar-
rests outside gay bars have also
been stepped up.
Any big city police chief is
feared; John Inman is probably
feared more than most. "Give
him enough rope and he'll hang
himself" is the kind of thing
said frequently of him; he is
widely regarded as unmanage-
able. When Jackson tried to fire
him in April, Inman met the
new appointee with a dozen
members of the SWAT unit and
an arsenal of weapons stock-
piled in his office.
Then there's the company he
keeps. tnman istreportedkto
have gotten his start shaking
down numbers runners, later
graduating to liquor license
shakedowns .and maybe gamb-
ling. Still a sergeant up until six
years ago, his spectacular rise
to the top is credited to his
friendship with the ex-mayor's
brother, Howard Massell.. The
best said of Howard in Atlanta
these days is that he enjoyed an
inordinate amount of influence
in his brother's administration;
a modest assessment is that he
was into gambling and prosti-
tution; the worst possible is

against him. Jackson can also
allow Inman to simply wither
on the vine by appointing a Pub-
lic Safety Commissioner above
him, although his constituency
plainly expects him to try to
fire Inman first.
What is probably moasts ur-
prising is the quiesence with
which Atlantans are taking the
developments in their city. Wil-
liam's street marches, though
no mean accomplishment in the
year 1974; are miniscule com-
pared to the city's black popu-
And despite some effort, In-
man's supporters have failed to
drum up any visible grass-roots
support from the law and order
town Atlanta is what was once
known as progress: tall new
buildings; cranes and the skele-
tons of more being built in be-
tween; and, congregating in the
Five Points park during the
noon hours, swarms of well-
dressed young black and white
office workers.
At the edge of the high-rise
district, out of a wide gully
where the railroad tracks come
into town, Atlanta's finest is
still rising: the $100 million plus
Omni complex, including a pro-
fessional sports arena, a hotel-
office complex covering 10
acres which will feature a 14
story interior space, and-plans
have just been announced - a
$35 million world trade center.
Atlantans, at least the ones
reaping the most benefit from
their city's prosperity, are in-
deed too busy to hate.

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