Late in the spring, after the foreclosure, the Peachtree Pine homeless shelter Downtown was itself in danger of homelessness. Inside the brick walls, where 574 men sleep on an average night, the leaders prepared for a siege. They believed that the city’s most powerful forces were allied against them. Some of the leaders lived in the shelter. They had nowhere else to go. On a gray Tuesday morning, about twenty of these resident volunteers gathered in a second-floor conference room with their executive director, Anita Beaty, age sixty-eight, also known as Mama.
She cleared her throat.
Friends of the shelter form a “human lifeline” around the building as a symbol of their resolve.
Mama You may have noticed that we’ve been visited by officers of many different, I guess, security entities, or police agencies, on fishing expeditions, as you all know. That’s what I call it, when they come here and say they need to come in and meet somebody, or they come to the door and try to browbeat somebody into letting them in. Without any warrant, without any authority. Just come in. And part of it, it seems to me, it tends toward harassment. Particularly now that we are struggling in court, and every single day, to protect our claim to this building. So last week there were [intruders] trying to get in. Under—
A Man False pretenses.
Mama —false pretenses. Exactly. And everybody who confronted them did a stellar job. We do not give names out. We do not even answer questions. Somebody says, “Have you seen this guy?” We don’t answer that. We don’t look at the picture and say, “Yes, he’s here.” But here’s what you can say every single time. “Do you have a warrant?” Ninety times out of ninety-one times, they don’t. “What are you here for?” And don’t let them in!