By Dean Hesse, contributor
Decatur, GA — Graduates wear masks with their caps and gowns. Protesters march in the streets against injustice. Business owners cleared to reopen their doors amid the COVID-19 pandemic keep a watchful eye on the world around them.
As people adjust to the new normal of life amid a global pandemic, they must also grapple with the shortcomings of the current normal in which a Black person can be killed in broad daylight as long as the killer wears a badge. The rage from years of police transgressions against people of color, coupled with the pent up anger of people who have had to shelter in place for weeks while losing their income, boiled over this past weekend, as people put aside social distancing – but kept the masks – to march on the streets of Atlanta.
The protests were largely absent in DeKalb County, but the pain and anger over systemic injustice are still prevalent here.
Michelle Diaz, R.N. from the DeKalb County Board of Health COVID-19 community testing team at Rehoboth Baptist Church in Tucker, Friday, May 22, 11:42 a.m., 82 degrees, 60% humidity. Photo by Dean Hesse.
The City of Tucker gave away over 6,000 surgical grade masks in May. Photo by Dean Hesse.
Downtown Decatur May 31. Photo by Dean Hesse.
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Lamont Simmons and Leah Miller sit at the Decatur Square May 31. Photo by Dean Hesse.
Isaac Ciavatta, 9, (holding sign) with his brother Ben, 4, at the Decatur Square May 31. Isaac said. “My best friend is Black. Black lives should be treated as equally as white lives.” Photo by Dean Hesse.
Fannie Johnson with her sons Hilton, 5, (l) and Tarius, 8, at the Decatur Square May 31. Photo by Dean Hesse.
Two pedestrians walk past a boarded-up Waffle House in downtown Decatur May 31. Photo by Dean Hesse.
Beacon Hill Black Alliance for Human Rights Co-Chair Mawuli Davis (center) with supporter Joe Barker from Black Man Lab on left and Beacon Hill secretary Paul McLennan stand in front of the Confederate monument in Decatur Square May 31. The men had come to notify people who hadn’t heard that a previously scheduled protest against white supremacy had been postponed due to safety concerns. “This Confederate monument still remains in the city square, at the heart of the city as white supremacy continues to remain at the heart of the city,” said Davis. “That’s a big issue. We have to root it out and remove it. Both the symbol and the reality of white supremacy. That’s the challenge. That’s our hope that white citizens will actively engage in that work. It is difficult and heavy and hard, but we’re hopeful.” Photo by Dean Hesse.
On May 31 Alevia Darwin, who said she’s homeless, sits in front of a plaque installed in front of the DeKalb County Courthouse in by DeKalb NAACP in remembrance of the lynching and racial terror against Black people in the county. “Just because you’re white does not mean that you can’t have a hard life, it’s just that being white is not one of the reasons why your life is hard. What I think white people can do is to not stay silent. We are split because of color but bound because of blood,” she said. Photo by Dean Hesse.
Allen Davis in downtown Decatur, May 31. Photo by Dean Hesse.
On May 30 Destinea Johnson, 25, from Atlanta said it hurt watching the video of George Floyd’s death.
“I thought about my brothers, uncles and grandparents and how I would feel if that happened to them. Violence is defeating the purpose. it’s counterproductive. The only way to beat hate is love. I hope people don’t look at Black people as disposable. White people need to be the change.” Photo by Dean Hesse.
Market manager Casey Hood on opening day of the Oakhurst Farmers Market May 30. “We are super excited to be over here,” she said. “We are trying to keep a small footprint. We have great hyper-local farms here.” Hand-washing and masks are mandatory and dogs are not allowed at this time. Info available at cfmatl.org. Photo by Dean Hesse.
Kodac Harrison waits for takeout in Oakhurst May 28. “I’ve been pretty good,” he said. “I’m writing a lot, songs and my memoir. I’m watching a lot of TV and walking around the neighborhood. I enjoy being social and miss the camaraderie with friends. I feel bad for people who are out of work and sick.” Photo by Dean Hesse.
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Dr. Monica Giles with Pops in Oakhurst May 28. An endocrinologist at Emory Hospital, she said reopening the state has made her a little nervous for her patients and colleagues. “When you sign up to work in this field there is a certain risk.” She said she believes most health care workers are humbled by the praise they are receiving.” We are just trying to take care of our patients and that’s what we want to do.” Photo by Dean Hesse.
Elliott Poag in Oakhurst May 28. “I’ve been doing fine. Healthy as can be by the grace of God,” he said. Photo by Dean Hesse.
Jason Russell and his 6-year-old twin daughters London (l) and Siena do some window shopping at Sq/Ft in downtown Decatur May 25. Photo by Dean Hesse.
Demontrae Jones, a practitioner of parkour and martial arts had the steps at the MARTA Plaza in downtown Decatur to himself to practice some moves May 25. “I’ve just been doing my thing.” Photo by Dean Hesse.
(l-r) Keyondra, Jabari III, 3, and Jabari Lester Jr. at the Decatur Square May 25. “We are introverts,” said Keyondra. “Our way of life has been good practice. We are grateful for what we have and being together.” When asked what has gotten them through the pandemic ,Jabari Jr. said, “Jesus, Jesus and Jesus, nothing but prayer.” Photo by Dean Hesse.
Autumn Harvey, 2, blows bubbles with her mother Kimberly on the Decatur Square May 25. “We are slowly feeling more comfortable,” said Kimberly. “In the beginning, we didn’t go anywhere. We started social distancing early. I go grocery shopping every two weeks. We haven’t been here since February. It feels surreal.” Photo by Dean Hesse.
Jack Sartain sounds “Taps” from his DeKalb County home on Memorial Day May 25.
Sartain was taking part in “Taps Across America” where veterans, musicians, teachers and students across the country were encouraged to sound “Taps” from their porches, yards and driveways at 3 p.m. on Memorial Day to keep the spirit of the holiday alive. Photo by Dean Hesse.
A woman watches as Blackhawk helicopters from the Georgia National Guard 78th Aviation Troop Command fly over Stone Mountain to honor fallen service members on Memorial Day May 25. Photo by Dean Hesse.
Scott Koester owns The Rose & Hemp in Stone Mountain Village with his wife Ashley. On May 24 he said, “Throughout this whole process we’ve had our online store going and really good support with that. Obviously, our storefront is the biggest driver of sales at this point and we were able to open back up about two weeks ago and so far, things are going as well as could be hoped for. Business is picking up as people realize we are open. Also, we’re trying to balance the scales and financial aspect with the community’s health and safety and trying really hard to navigate all those choppy waters.” Photo by Dean Hesse.
Warriors who fought for Eritrean independence during a 30-year war with the Ethiopia military are remembered during an Independence Day of Eritrea celebration in the City of Tucker May 24. Photo by Dean Hesse.
A message at Tucker High School made from red Solo cups says “We Miss U” Photo taken onMay 24. Photo by Dean Hesse.
Avondale Estates residents honored essential workers and medical personnel by displaying luminarias in front of their homes May 23. Connie Bryans, pictured here, organized the event after seeing a Luminary Night her sister put on in another neighborhood. Photo by Dean Hesse.
Misty Schieber with son George, 3, answers a series of questions from City of Tucker Parks & Recreation Director Rip Robertson before being admitted to the city’s Smoke Rise pool May 23. The city announced May 21 they would be opening its two pools in time for the Memorial Day weekend with strict safety measures in place. Photo by Dean Hesse.
Cars were backed up over a mile an hour before a 2 p.m. starting time for DeKalb County Government’s free distribution of 1,200 boxes of fresh produce and 1,200 boxes of chicken at James R. Hallford Stadium in Clarkston May 22. Photo by Dean Hesse.
On May 22 Carol Jean Murff with Mr. Darcy stands next to a plaque at the Decatur Cemetery placed by the Harold Byrd American Legion Post 66 in 1945 in memory of those from DeKalb County who died in the service of their country. “My grandson was in Iraq and Afghanistan. My Uncle Bertram Deal died years and years ago in one of the wars. I’m not sure, I was a child. I have a lot of respect for the veterans. Without them we wouldn’t be free,” she said. Photo by Dean Hesse.
On May 22, The City of Tucker’s liaison to the DeKalb County Police Department, Lt. D. G. Schoppner said “Crime has been down and we appreciate that. I wouldn’t say things are worse now just getting back to normal.” Photo by Dean Hesse.
Decatur High Class of 2020 Seniors from Oakhurst held a car parade May 28 to celebrate graduation. Photo by Dean Hesse.
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