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GDOT Sends Bulldozers for 40 Homeless Camping Under I-75/85 and I-20

Photographs by Weslee Knapp.

(APN) ATLANTA -- On Tuesday, January 14, 2014, the Georgia Department of Transportation (GDOT) sent out two bulldozers to the underpass of I-75/85 and I-20 in order to eliminate around ten to twelve camping tents occupied by homeless individuals.

Atlanta Progressive News reader, and former candidate for Atlanta City Council Post 2-at-large, Weslee Knapp, observed the incident and provided photographs to APN.

tent village 1.jpg

"I been driving past there for the last six months," Rick Saddler of Christ's Messengers Christian Fellowship Church in Snellville, Georgia, told APN.

"There were about three to four tents at that time.  When I drove past last Friday, there were almost a dozen tents.  I went by there on Saturday to drop off blankets and snacks; I asked one of the individuals down there, 'How many people are here?,’ as it was daytime, most of the folks that stayed in that area were out trying to get food and supplies for the night.  It’s been really cold. He said there were about forty people that made camp off the freeway ramp," Saddler said.


tent village 2.jpg

"I went back on Sunday to drop off more blankets.  On Monday, a woman who had a cell phone called me to tell me that on Tuesday GDOT said they would be there to bulldoze the tents and debris from the area.  Sure enough, the bulldozers came through and bulldozed all of their possessions. Their tents, their blankets, their supplies, everything.  It was heartbreaking," Saddler said.

According to Saddler, the individuals seeking refuge under the overpass were told by the GDOT workers that “there were too many tents.”


tent village 3.jpg

"It seemed like the workers were genuinely upset about what they had to do, but they did it anyway,” he said.

On Wednesday, Saddler and other church members dropped off as many blankets as he had in his car.

"I've got some to drop off today in my trunk," Saddler mused.  "What are these people going to do now with no shelter?  No supplies or blankets to keep warm?"


tent village 4.jpg

"There's got to be something better for these folks.  Fulton County and the City of Atlanta have to have shelters and transitional housing… don't they?" he asked.

As previously reported by APN, there is inadequate shelter and inadequate affordable housing in Atlanta.

"We certainly empathize with these individuals, but we cannot allow anyone to live or camp in freeway rights-of-way as it poses a potential safety hazard to both the individuals involved and passing motorists.  We regularly work with the City of Atlanta, Georgia State Patrol, and various homeless shelters in order to safely relocate them and help them find a place to stay that is safer than adjacent to high-speed roadways.  This is policy," Mark McKinnon, GDOT spokesperson, said in a statement.


tent village 5.jpg


Comments (76)

Said this on 1-17-2014 At 06:38 pm

This is shameful. These people were not hurting anyone.

Was there any consideration of where they would go? Was there any consideration that anything they owned was bulldozed?

Said this on 1-18-2014 At 12:36 am

Yes... as the article states, GDOT came by and notified them that they would be back to bulldoze anything remaining when they came back on Tuesday. Apparently, they called GDOT's bluff and got burned. They were notified.

Dale Reynolds
Said this on 1-18-2014 At 08:34 am

I'm rich I have a house,family,food and a job. However I wish I was rich with more money. These people didn't deserve what gdot done to them. I'm sad for them.Smh

Mike Pang
Said this on 1-19-2014 At 12:06 am

if i were rich i would stop by and give food and maybe something to keep them warm. you have that power still. im sure a couple of hundred bucks wont harm your bank account. if what you said were true about being rich. i would love to help you out if you really want to reach out to the poor.

Said this on 1-23-2014 At 01:32 pm

Duh!!!!! He meant that he was rich because he has a home n family n job not financially rich!!!!! Ugh

LaKing Hawkins
Said this on 1-22-2014 At 01:45 pm

How dare you say some shit like that, what if that was you and your family. They were notified, please !!! Last time I checked this land was already here for everybody we didn't create none of it so what gives them the right to do anything. I live in Atlanta and pass by this place daily those people don't bother nobody. And for you to be that heartless tells me a lot . You may be one check away from being in that situation . Feel free to reply if you got a problem with what I said I know your mother raised you better than that to say some bullshit like what you said about these unfortunate people.

Said this on 1-25-2014 At 08:26 pm

It may have been a state DOT person that made this decision, but the buck stops on Gov Deal's desk.  There are state properties that could at least get these poor souls out of the wind and rain.  These people cam die from the temperatures we are experiencing.  Perhaps stepping up for the poor, the homeless amd probably people who don 't vote is too inconvient for these decision makers.  Most hard-hearted thing I have heard of in a long time.  What you going to do Gov? 

Said this on 1-18-2014 At 07:44 pm

most are druggies/drunks

Said this on 1-18-2014 At 07:50 pm

Are they really?  How many of them do you know personally, or have met?  Don't be so quick to judge!  We are all ONE paycheck from this position, you could be next.

Said this on 1-20-2014 At 09:32 pm

YOU are one paycheck away from that position. Be more responsible and save up money. Can't? Then stop living outside your means.

There are PLENTY of programs for these people. The people who live under the highways do so because they don't want to follow the rules that are set in place by the current programs (i.e. show up, don't be on drugs, don't hurt other people at the shelters, don't steal, etc etc). But they don't. So they end up here. It's their own fault

Said this on 1-21-2014 At 11:16 am

You clearly have zero idea regarding the myriad of ways of how people end up homeless. Please allow me explain how I became homeless two weeks after I turned eighteen. I went to my mother to tell her that after a decade of being molested by my elder brother (her favorite child) that I intended to call the police if he touched me one more time. She threw me out within a week. I took everything I could carry in a duffle bag and spent two terrifying nights sleeping on the train because the shelters at that time were known as "rape caves." I managed to get off the streets within a few months, but only with other people's help. Once you are on the street you have very few choices. Companies including McDonalds will NOT hire you if you do not have a home address or phone number. My suggestion in the future is to not be so ignorant when you speak and perhaps have a bit of empathy because the universe sometimes hands you experiences when it thinks you are lacking. Good luck.

Said this on 1-21-2014 At 11:18 am

Apologies Tina, I intended to reply to JO. Not that it will make a difference to people like her...

C Harris
Said this on 2-22-2014 At 12:12 pm

Samantha my filmcrew and I are doing a documentary about the homelessness in Atlanta and i would love to interview you.  How can I reach you?

Said this on 1-27-2014 At 09:27 am

I have been there, met some of them and know that Tina2 is right. There are programs but like she said, they have to follow rules. Most of them really are on drugs or drink too much. Some sell their bodies for the next high. The ones I really feel sorry for are the ones who are really mentally challenged. Howver, there are programs for them too. We need to let our light shine onto others. regardless the reason, they are still there. It could be your parent, child, sibling, friend,or former classmate out there one day.Be kind and compassionate. It could even be you one day!


Said this on 1-28-2014 At 07:38 pm

I didnt believe you could live without a soul....guess I was wrong

Said this on 1-29-2014 At 04:06 pm

There are NOT PLENTY of programs for homeless, if You worked the streets helping You would know this. One second is all it takes, and You are out in the cold, amazing how humanity in general doesn't understand just how easy it is to end up lost, alone, afraid, etc. I patrolled the streets of this city for years interacting with those needing help & hope, and am an activist that fights to fix this mess of a society. Contact me if You want to help & not judge what is obviously not understood. Help is needed in many facets... facebook<dot>com/Firenight

Don't "assume"
Said this on 2-3-2014 At 12:08 pm
Please know your facts before you post stereotypical ideals about a group of people where it is not a "one size fits all." I work with these people. I read the "facts." I hear their stories and not the story that people like you are telling for them. Where I work, we offer beds to 338 men who are willing to enter into a recovery program. And you know what? We are CONSTANTLY FULL! We have hundreds of people who come in everyday looking for help or wanting to enter into one of our programs but we simply don't have the space (or the resourses) to help them all. Don't "assume" things about a group of people that you probably turn your head to.
Said this on 1-22-2014 At 01:28 pm

Amen Amen Amen Tina said is right you only have a few that are drunk and on Drugs a good half are mentaly ill other half lost their job for one reason or another and they position detorated to a point where they are in the position they are in now. Some are runways because of a abusive home. You have various reason individuals are homeless and just because you are rich does not mean you will not be homeless. StockMarket can go bad and within time an rich individual can end up homeless. Just take a look at what happen in 2008-2011 Many of people who had good jobs lost them good job and some of them ended up Homeless. A real bad National Distater can render individuals homeless. Problem is in Atlanta and other big citys you have individuals who have made and failed to relize who they left behind. You have enough rich individuals where if they would donate their money and resources and it does not have to be much they can bulid a complex for the homeless. You have the State of Georgia who has enough in its budget to bulid a complex for the homeless. The United States spends trillions on defence if they were to just donate one trillion of that to the homeless/provery problem in america. Proverty will almost or will be gone, the riches country in the world with the higest proverty rate in the world you tell me whats matter with this picture! You have 10 million homeless in America and 18 million homes that are empty you tell me whats matter with that picture. So lets not blame it on drugs and Alchol.

Said this on 1-18-2014 At 11:52 pm
No Jo, most of them are mentally ill and/or veterans who don't have any family or friends to help them when they are down on their luck.  Our country and our city has criminalized poverty.  Unfortunatley, thanks to carefully thought out conditioning, most people think like you.  I guess it's easier to dismiss these people that to ask yourself what you can do to help.
Said this on 1-20-2014 At 10:46 am

So....tell me perfect one....what is your solution to those bad ole' "druggies/drunks" ?

Said this on 1-22-2014 At 02:33 pm

You do not know that for sure. Do not fall prey to the notion that they have ALL done this to themselves. Be respectful, they are people too. You will never know how they got to their current position. What if that happened to you?  

Nora Leslie
Said this on 1-22-2014 At 06:25 pm


you are an idiot.


Said this on 8-14-2014 At 06:19 pm

a lot of these are patients not on needed medications.  people who suffer ptsd or delusions. you are so very fast to judge. yes, some  have addictions, not all. if you can help, do so. if you can't, then don't. p

Art lee
Said this on 2-6-2014 At 12:16 pm

So to all I live .25 miles from this camp and we have a crime issues with the folks that reside on the freeway as well as the folks crossing the freeway on a blind curb while drivers drive at speed and come around the curb. Do you not understand that they steal, and are going to cause an accident. So I fully support the removal. They are back just because. A homeless shelter on the freeway, under the Capitol, in full force being attracted by good hearted suburbanites feeding and clothing these folks that are mostly agreed problem people, but..... A big but they are being encouraged to unlawfully loiter by being feed and clothed. I'm sorry I guess I'll just go down there and let them know that the residents of Snellvolle will cloth them and feed them while they can steal from the community and trade their finds for more drugs. I will personally bring food out there to attract more people to your community and we will see how your big hearted efforts work for you as more and more problem folks come.......

Said this on 1-17-2014 At 08:33 pm

“The fields were fruitful, and starving men moved on the roads.” 
― John SteinbeckThe Grapes of Wrath

Gary Hawsey
Said this on 1-17-2014 At 09:13 pm
My partner and I have been collecting blankets and warm clothes for them.  We also had an old tent that we gave them. Those who could save their tents are back! They have no place else to go. We are too rich of a nation to treat our poor this way.
Said this on 1-18-2014 At 07:51 pm


Mike Pang
Said this on 1-19-2014 At 12:08 am

i'd like to help how can i get in touch with you

Said this on 1-17-2014 At 09:14 pm

Excellent news, the city is way too overflowed with homeless doing nothing to improve themselves. They need to be forced out and it makes Atlanta much safer

Said this on 1-18-2014 At 12:39 am


I hope you never find yourself old, sick & out of a job. But if you do, it might do you some good to see what it is like. Does it ever occur to you that some people are mentally ill, have nowhere to go? Would you do anything to help someone "better themselves"?


Said this on 1-18-2014 At 04:51 am

fuck you you piece of crap

Said this on 1-27-2014 At 09:32 am

Mark, I actually said the same exact thing out loud at my desk when I read Bill's comment!


Said this on 1-18-2014 At 04:58 am

You're a shit bag. While i can agree it is up to the individual to improve their situation, every bum I know is severely mentally Ill. Not one is just like "fuck this I'm just gonna be a bum". Not one. I can say that they may be homeless and an eyesore for you on whatever boring commute you may have to whatever boring insignificant job, at least they can probably still understand compassion and understanding for others. Fuck off and eat a bag of dicks you heartless dick

Said this on 1-20-2014 At 03:46 pm

Joey go back to your hourly job and get off this message board

Said this on 1-18-2014 At 06:37 am

Attitudes like this are  why revolutions have guillotines.  Just saying.

Said this on 1-18-2014 At 10:26 am

I'm willing to bet that you, "Bill", are a good Christian who donates his hard-earned money (hard-earned welfare money probably) to Creflo Dollar every Sunday, right, Bill, right?  May you soon find yourself in the same position as those wretched souls who have been discarded by society and Capitalism.  Let's see then, if your masters in the Republican Party and their handlers the Kock brothers will find it in their shriveled up hearts to give you a hand.  Shame on you! 

Said this on 1-18-2014 At 02:55 pm

You know this breaks my heart. I'm a christian, and I've grown up donating and working at shelters. I'm a republican, and I don't think bulldozing people's belongings is right. And I believe in capitalism, but I also believe people deserve to be treated fairly. Your comment is just as disrespectful, ignorant, and sickening as bill's even if you don't think the bulldozing was right. This hatred spewing from your mouth in an ignorant and overgeneralized manner is just as unnecessary and unappreciated. It doesn't matter if you're christian or muslin, republican democratic or independent, capitalist, socialist or communist. Bill's comment went against common morality and that lies within an individual's own heart. Just remember, hatred is just as sickening to a person's soul  as the indifference Bill portrayed to somebody's tragedy. 

Said this on 1-18-2014 At 10:35 am


Said this on 1-18-2014 At 01:08 pm

Bill, You are a disturbed individual and should be bulldozed. 

How does this make anyone safer? Now those people are in your yard looking for a place to sleep...

What a jackass you are. 

Said this on 1-22-2014 At 01:36 pm

Man you are ingorant Bill for one Atlanta is not overflowed with homeless. Two Homeless is not out their committing crimes you may have a few but Altanta crime comes from outsiders who already had committed a crime in another state and come to Atlanta to hide. You have Whites individuals who ship in the dope to Atlanta, use young Girls in Sex Trade and have them out in the street selling their bodys. Come on Bill lest get honest You have Atlanta Cops that are Dirtyer then the ground we walk on. Homeless is easy way out but when you look around Atlanta it not the Homeless you see on tv it individuals who have home to go to who are committing the crimes in Atlanta Bill you have to do better then this.

Said this on 1-17-2014 At 11:16 pm
It's easier for Congress to take away sustenance and life from the poor, in the recession they caused, and not risk having constituents' stomachs turn at what their representatives are doing to the working poor, the unemployed, the children (1/4 of whom live in poverty), and the other victims whose wealth has already trickled "down" to the very rich.
Said this on 1-18-2014 At 12:22 am

Hey Bill

Why dont you climb down off your elitist high horse and go f### yourself. If you are ever on hard times, i hope no one has that same empathetic attitude towards you.

Said this on 1-18-2014 At 10:29 am

Thomas, the tragic irony here is that "Bill" just got paid a whooping 2 1/2 cents for posting that heartless tripe.  Don't put it past "Bill" to be one of those he so openly condemns.  Southern charm at its best, indeed. 

Said this on 1-18-2014 At 12:45 am

I went to this location 2 times at night during the bitter cold snap and delivered blankets and clothing never once did I feel threatened or afraid at any time, I met very nice and grateful people who were just going thru tough times.  Its a sad time when are Govt and some of its citizens value appearance of an area and status over the well being of our fellow man!

John Hort SFC REt USA
Said this on 1-18-2014 At 02:28 am

It doesn't appear that they were hurting anyone. No one was making any money off of them is all.  The idea of people camping instead of paying rent is one that they couldn't afford to let catch on.

Said this on 1-18-2014 At 04:09 am

Bill, what a pathetic person you are.

Said this on 1-18-2014 At 07:11 am

900 million dollar budget surplus in GA budget and we bulldoze everything some homeless folks have.   It's "policy".   I sure hope we don't all receive this sort of government service down the line!  Oh wait..I'm a teacher.   Already getting bulldozed but nothing like this :(.  Ashamed of our state today.

Said this on 1-18-2014 At 07:59 am

No ten-year-old ever said in our 4th grade classroom, "I want to grow up to be homeless." My heart weeps as I get to know the homeless, listen to their stories, when I serve lunch to them in a community on Ponce that provides hot showers, warm blankets and clothes, coffee and hot meals. Some people made bad choices in life (indeed I have!), can't find a job, lost their possessions out of no choice of their own. Bulldozing feels most heartless. 


Said this on 1-22-2014 At 01:49 pm

900 million dollar Suplus sounds like my state where I live now, you see I use to live in Atlanta so I know what I speak of I did not know Georgia had 900 million dollar Suplus so if they were to give 100 million just to the homeless the homeless problem is over. When I say give it to the homeless I mean bulid aptments, out of 3-6 million that live in Atlanta and you have four thousand that are homeless or in poverty it could be more or less you bulid Aptments to accomate them along with job training that is useful and needed and when they fully get on their feet they move on and get their on place. The money is thier the problem is without the homeless they cannot be use for unvountary organ donors, They cannot be expermited on or use for some eles evil gain.

Said this on 1-18-2014 At 08:54 am

Bill is just a regular old self entitled atlanta prick...atlanta has more of those than homeless people.  Unfortunately they dont congregate in the same place to bulldoze them.  I am saddened and shocked they did this...but it gives me faith in humanity that so many people are helping out where they can and are appalled by this.

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