We brought to you the news of Atlanta's "Screen on the Green" debacle emanating from the lush fields of Piedmont Park.
Atlanta is the capital of Black America, and only events which reflect that general theme need be promoted. Freaknic, Nightclub shootings and empty condos are the reality of this city and the demographic changes that Clayton County has undergone and the transition to Black rule there is but a reminder of this fact.
However, it must be noted that "Screen on the Green" events - pegged as family friendly outings to attract people to frequent the heart of Atlanta - have been plagued by disturbances prior to the Transformers 2 meltdown of last week (thus ending the unproven theory that a shortage of chicken sandwiches contributed to the breakdown in civility):
When Caitlin McLain first heard press reports about chaos during Screen on the Green at Piedmont Park, she assumed it was from the May 27 showing of "National Treasure."
"We heard what sounded like gunshots going off," said McLain, 22, of Marietta, who attended the debut of the summer film series with several friends. The noise turned out to be firecrackers. "We didn't know what to do. We saw all these people running and we didn't see any cops so we started running."
McLain said she had noticed several groups of teens hanging around when she arrived at the park. One appeared to have a Taser.
"Some of my friends left early," she said. "They didn't want to take any chances."
Lisa Wells, who attended "National Treasure" with a friend from London, said a rowdy group of teens hijacked the event.
"[They] were smoking pot openly," she said. "When another attendee reported this to police, the female officer radioed for a male officer who took his sweet time to show up."
After learning they had been reported, the teens became hostile, Wells said.
"One stood up in front of the group who reported her to police and blocked their view from the screen intentionally for about 10 minutes," she said.
When the second officer arrived, Wells said he chatted briefly with one of the teens, then left.
"The crowd around the teenagers was disgusted," she said. "Many began to leave. Then the [firecrackers] went off and everyone in the area left quickly."
Matt Burkhalter, of south Atlanta, compared the atmosphere during the "National Treasure" screening to a bar brawl.
"We left early," said Burkhalter, 32. "We felt unsafe and uncomfortable."
The next day he wrote the Piedmont Park Conservancy about his experience and received a response that made it clear he wasn't the only one to complain.
"The common thread with the e-mails we received centered on 'safety,' " replied Aimedra Kelley, director of marketing and outreach for the conservancy. "To address this we plan to ramp up security presence in the park. Although we had more security in the park than there has been in past years their presence may not have been felt by attendees."
Kelley said the new plan was to go into effect last Thursday -- in time for "The Transformers" screening.
"Beginning tomorrow and moving forward we will have Atlanta police officers patrolling the perimeter sidewalks, walking the aisles down in the Meadow, and one person stationed at the First Aid tent who can communicate with the officers in the park," Kelley wrote.
The changes, if implemented, didn't appear to help.
"My daughter was at Screen on the Green and had her purse snatched," Chris Paddrik told the AJC. Paddrik's daughter filed one of at least three incidents reported to authorities, Atlanta Police spokesman Curtis Davenport said, clarifying earlier reports that only one report had been filed.
"She attempted to report it to three separate police officers -- the first two told her that they wouldn't take her report," Paddrik said. "One officer told her that they had a report of an unconscious female who was possibly raped that he was looking for. While talking to the next officer, two young ladies arrived bleeding and crying hysterically that they had been assaulted."
Davenport said there were no reports of sexual assault at the most recent Screen on the Green.
Paddrik's daughter, whose stolen credit card was used to purchase a $400 pair of Nike's online, eventually filed the report. She's out a Louis Vuitton purse, priced at $1800; a $500 wallet and a $200 iPhone, Paddrik said. His daughter was out of town on business and couldn't be reached.
"Another regret is that she truly loves Piedmont Park," Paddrik said. "She chose an apartment in Midtown to be closer to the park. I hope this incident will not change her view of the area."
This week's screening of "Dreamgirls" has been rescheduled for June 17 as police and park officials sort out the security issues.
Across the nation in cinemas and megaplexes a discernible pattern of Black people talking during the film emerges. Even outdoor movies are interrupted by Black patrons and no amount of shushing could engender a quiet to fall over the raucous crowd.This was not isolated behavior nor can it be casually.
SBPDL loves movies. Films have a way of connecting with the viewer on a stronger emotional level then even the most profound sentence in the greatest literary work could ever hope to attain.
Incessant chattering at the theater causes consternation among momentary mute theatergoers attempting to enjoy the film in silence, so try and picture the outdoor atmosphere of hundreds of voices united in anarchy during the peaceful showing of a film at Piedmont Park in Atlanta.
Atlanta. The Black capital of America. What else were you expecting?
The first video below helps paint the picture of what Piedmont Park looks like for those unfamiliar with the park.
The second is from the 2009 "Screen on the Green" when it was temporarily relocated.