UPDATE below. More than 5,200 of you signed our petition to push for freedom for the Atlanta mother who was charged in her son’s death when he was killed by a hit-and-run driver while crossing a street in front of their apartment complex. Raquel Nelson is due back in court next week, but we wanted to let you know — especially those of you who signed that petition — that we were able to deliver that petition to the Cobb County Solicitor’s Office a few weeks ago.
With the help of a terrific partner group in Atlanta called PEDS, we had the petition delivered to the Solicitor’s office. Sally Flocks, the executive director, and Liz Coyle with PEDS were kind enough to take a trip out to Cobb County to deliver your names in person.
Unfortunately, Solicitor General Barry Morgan refused to take a few moments to meet with PEDS, a well-respected group in Atlanta, to accept the petition and hear a little more about the underlying problem of streets that aren’t safe for people on foot or bike.
Here is a few notable thoughts from Sally Flocks and PEDS about delivering the petition.
Solicitor General Barry Morgan’s refusal to meet with representatives of PEDS to accept the Transportation for America petition disappointed us. By meeting with us, Morgan could have learned why members of Transportation for America – as well as over 5,000 petitioners, believe Raquel Nelson should be pardoned of all charges. When we arrived in Marietta, the receptionist would not allow us to enter Morgan’s office to hand the petition to his assistant. Instead, she came to the receptionist’s desk to pick up the petition we had handed him.
On our way to the Solicitor General’s office, we drove by the Marietta [bus] Transfer Center (pictured below), where fences block access to the street for over ¼ mile. The closest signalized intersections are over a half mile apart. Victory Drive intersects South Marietta Parkway between the signalized intersections, which means it’s legal for pedestrians to cross anywhere they want. Yet “no pedestrian” signs have been installed to discourage pedestrians from crossing a high-speed five-lane street.
If I could wave a magic wand, the Solicitor General would have joined me for a bus ride to visit the location where Raquel Nelson and her family had attempted to cross the street. To catch a bus back to his office, we would have had to cross the street. Perhaps then the Solicitor General would understood why Cobb County needs to stop treating pedestrians as second class citizens.
Well said, Sally. We especially want to recognize all of you who added your names to this petition. Though we wish we could have gotten that meeting and bus ride with the Solicitor General and put your names directly in his hand, you can be sure that the calls and emails and petitions that have flooded into that office in the last few months have made a significant difference in this case, and helped to publicize the larger issues at hand nationally.
We can’t thank you enough for your support. We’ll continue to keep tabs on this story in the coming weeks.
UPDATED 10/24/11 2:30 p.m.: The Atlanta Journal Constitution reports that her second trial is starting tomorrow. It also includes that apt nugget to describe her situation:
With interviews on ABC’s Good Morning America and news outlets CNN, Reuters and the BBC covering her initial trial and sentencing, Nelson became the face of public transit users and perpetual pedestrians whom a sprawling suburbia has left behind.