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Islamophobic Neighbors Attempt to Stop a Community Garden

As Risala Gardens has attempted to establish a Community Garden and Educational Farm in Stone Mountain over the past year, neighboring Islamaphobes continuously try to stop it from happening.  The opposition initially arose in 2014 when Risala sought to build a school on its 11.5-acre property.  Upon finding out about this, the residents of the neighborhood came out in mass protest.  A concern about an increase in traffic was used as the primary focal point, but they also made it clear that they feared what having an “Islamic-based school” would bring to the neighborhood.  After this, Risala decided to not pursue the school, out of consideration for the neighbors.

A year ago, the Risala Gardens team decided to establish something that they thought everyone in the neighborhood would appreciate and be able to benefit from: a community garden and urban educational farm.  This farm began to be established with the goal of developing an environment where fresh and healthy food could be grown; children could become exposed to nature while caring for animals and learning to garden; and community members could learn to live in a more sustainable manner. 

However, this effort has been met with even more opposition.  The neighbors have repeatedly called code enforcement, animal control, GA Department of Agriculture, the county commissioner, as well as the County CEO.  Letters have also been written to grant funders and partner organizations in an effort to stop their support for Risala Gardens and ruin its reputation.  Exaggerations and blatant lies have been told about activities on the farm.  Neighbors have flown drones over the farm to monitor activity on the property.  They have trespassed onto the property and have vandalized on several occasions. 

The tactic of repeatedly calling code enforcement, is a strategy that is utilized in gentrified areas nationally as a tactic of harassment to displace unwanted residents.  However, in this case, even the code enforcement officers have said that they see clearly what is really going on.  Risala Gardens must appear in court on August 7th, 2017 to address alleged code violations.

At this point, this abuse must no longer be allowed to take place.  These people must be stopped and exposed.  Risala Gardens is asking you to send in letters of support, sign our petition and give financially towards this cause. 

Risala Gardens is currently meeting with Dekalb County Department of Planning & Sustainability as well as Code Enforcement to ensure that everything is compliant and done according to the county laws.  Immediate funds are needed to cover the costs of:

·         Legal Fees

·         Required Site Developments

·         Required Site Plan & Permitting

A total of $4,500 is needed to resolve these matters.  Donations may be made at: www.risalagardens.org/donate

Letters of support may be emailed to atiba@risalagardens.org



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