A White Atlanta police officer quit his job after finding out that the police department was working with local building developers to arrest and evict Black people out of their homes. The 49-year-old former police officer, Tom Gissler, worked with the police department from April 2017 until July of this year when he left because he did not want to aid in gentrification, according to a report by Mother Jones.
Detailing his story, Gissler said his supervisors instructed him to heavily police an apartment complex in Atlanta’s Old Fourth Ward section where most residents are Black.
“We really want you to start policing this section of Boulevard and Ponce de Leon Avenue, basically the Bedford Pines Apartments,” Gissler recalled.
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“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.”
Not used to such aggressive policing, Gissler said he decided to speak to some residents to have a better understanding of the issues they face in the community. One local homeowner told him that owners of the complex were thinking about knocking down the apartments in order to build a new, expensive property to follow through with the gentrification in the city.
However, the complex owners couldn’t price out residents by raising rents so they decided to seek help from the police. “The only way you can evict or do anything like that is if the person who owns the apartment is convicted of a felony,” Gissler said.
“So, the Bedford Pines guys just went to 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.’”
There “wasn’t a white person in this whole complex,” said Gissler, adding that most of the tenants were “single Black girls who are just trying to… make their way in the world.”
When the claims made by the local homeowner were confirmed by Gissler’s police supervisor, he gave up his job. “It dawned on me that the entire system, the entire thing, was just a shitty mafia system.
“If you tried to do a good job and say, “I’m going to be a good cop, and I’m going to obey commands,” they would abandon you, charge you, leave you behind, and not even think twice,” Gissler said.