After finding out the Atlanta Police Department was working with local building developers to arrest and evict Black residents, a white Atlanta police officer decided to give up his job, according to Mother Jones.
The 49-year-old ex-Atlanta police officer, Tom Gissler, was employed with the department from April 2017 until July of this year. He told Mother Jones that he left his position because he didn’t want to help gentrify the area by arresting Black tenants in the area.
In the article, Gissler says that after gaining a premier spot on the day shift, he was assigned to a beat in Bedford Pines. According to him, he was instructed to police the area and was given strict instructions on how to do so.
“We really want you to start policing this section of Boulevard and Ponce de Leon Avenue, basically the Bedford Pines Apartments,” Gissler recalled. “We think there are dope boys in there. We think there’s a lot of illegal activity happening and we want to really focus there. So we’re gonna put up signs that say you can’t park on the street. I want you to go and write tickets on every single car that’s on the street and I want you to get those cars out of there; if they don’t move, tow ’em. I want you to start running checks on everybody standing on the street; if they have got warrants, I want you to lock ’em up.”
Because he wasn’t used to such strict policing, he decided to do some investigative work on his own time.
“It made me very curious. So on my own time—I live in Atlanta, I live in the zone I policed, which is super rare—I drove over there and had a conversation with some people. I was like: “Hey, this is what I’m being asked to do. Why do you think that is? What’s going on?”
He stated that a homeowner in the area was very direct when speaking to him. He was told that the guys who own Bedford Pines received their tax bill last year, and that “their taxes were assessed based on all the gentrification that’s happening in the area. And so they wanted to move everybody out of these apartments and knock ’em down and rebuild these nice expensive apartments and the government said no.”
So, the guys who own Bedford Pines approached the police department and said: “We want you to police in here, and we’re going to give you a section of Bedford Pines to actually have office space. And I want you to lock up as many people as possible so we can make these apartments vacant and we can knock ’em down.”
So, realizing the moral dilemma he was involved with, he decided to quit instead of ruining people’s lives based on the sketchiness of the police department and the owners of Bedford Pines.