ATLANTA — For the past six years, the Edgewood Ave business district in the Sweet Auburn neighborhood of downtown Atlanta has been besieged by local car and motorcycle clubs.
Even during the pandemic shutdowns, the street parties continued to flourish, causing the crowds and disruptions to the neighborhood to grow even further.
The popular bar and restaurant district just so happens to sit a mere three-minute walk from the Martin Luther King, Jr. National Historical Park.
“I think the main issues that we need help with controlling vehicular traffic on the street, then it gets out of hand, and it becomes a danger to the pedestrians,” says co-owner of Joystick Gamebar, Johnny Martinez. “Ultimately, those are the people who are not just our customers but our staff and our neighbors.”
Banding together as the Sweet Auburn Coalition, the collective of business owners and residents have tried again and again to find a solution through the proper channels of law enforcement - to no avail.
“We were rebuffed again and again even recently when the zone commander for our area, kept saying that this is a problem that belongs to the businesses and the bars on the street because these are our customers who are causing this problem,” says Matt Ruppert, owner of Noni.
The Sweet Auburn Coalition has found something of an ally in Councilmember Amir Farokhi who has acted as a liaison between the community and APD.
Co-owner of Harold’s Chicken & Ice Bar, Tarryn Rutherford had this to say to 11Alive, “The way I feel is that sometimes you have to take matters into your own hands. Getting together neighbors and business owners, and we actually take our block back and letting people know that they got to respect the block. That's the most important thing for us.”
As a last-ditch effort, the coalition has arranged to ‘Take back the block’ initiative by coordinating their own traffic control measures. Although, the dialogue with the APD is still underway in hopes that law enforcement can step in to calm an already tense situation.