Critics of controversial Atlanta training center canvass voters in referendum effort

The clock is ticking on efforts to put a controversial $90-million training center for police on the November ballot. Opponents need to get 70,000 signatures by Aug. 14, just to get the chance to let the public decide on the future of what critics call cop city.

Workers with the New Georgia Project Action Fund on Tuesday canvassed a neighborhood in southwest Atlanta, trying to collect enough signatures after city council last month green lit the plan to fund the center.

"We believe in the power of the ballot measure we believe in the power of the people," said James Mays, deputy field director of canvassing efforts for the voting-rights group.


Working Families Party, which is overseeing petition efforts, says workers so far have collected about 30,000 of the goal of 70,000 signatures.

"I believe that we can meet that goal and if not exceed it," Mays said.

The voting rights group says the people of Atlanta should get a say in how their money is spent. "They are more than welcome to sign the petition," Mays said.

Fashionee Jones supports building the center. "If they’re trained correctly, if they have the right resources for the job, I feel like we should take a chance on it," Jones said.

But she also favors letting voters decide if they want the training facility. "I think that’s a good idea," Jones said.

The city is slated to spend $67 million in taxpayer dollars for its share of the center.

Jon Dennis opposes the center. He says city leaders should spend that money elsewhere. "You got families out here who need homes and somewhere to live," Dennis said. "Why not give it to the people who really need it?"

Dennis says the public should decide the center’s fate. "The people’s voices are what make the city," Dennis said.

The city and the state attorney general are challenging the referendum effort in court. They argue the lease agreement cannot be revoked retroactively.