Could Atlanta see a return of Freaknik?


Up until the mid-1990s, most historically black colleges and universities would have their spring break right here in Atlanta.

What began as a small picnic soon morphed into a block party.

Now, Davinci Barcelo is trying to bring it back, calling it iFreaknik. He said he plans to hold the event on Walker Street in Southwest Atlanta April 20 and 21.

The problem is, he can’t secure a permit.

“By not giving us the permit, we’re not able to hire the police officers,” he said.

On Monday, neighborhoods surrounding Walker Street gave iFreaknik a vote of no support. In an email, the neighborhood Planning Unit chair said, “There is no clear plan for street closure, no discussion of security measures, no plan for trash pickup and no engagement with impacted businesses.”

Barcelo said his event will be more toned down than the one from the 90s. He said he only expects about 500 people each day and promises things won’t get too crazy if he can get the permit.

“If I don’t have it, then I have no idea,” he said. “At that point in time, I’m just a participant and a spectator. We’re just pulling up, showing out and doing us at that point.”

One man who knows a thing or two about necessary security at Freaknik is Eldrin Bell, Atlanta’s police chief from 1990 to 1994.

“I made the effort to allow them to enjoy themselves,” he said, talking about participants. “Some of them I had to arrest, but Monday morning, I was at the jail, ‘Call your mother, call your principal, you got to get out of here.’”

Bell said despite the traffic and questionable behavior, he doesn’t advise against iFreaknik.

“He should sit down with the powers that be, the mayor and her team, and figure out a way to do it right,” Bell said.

Barcelo said he’s still in talks with the city to try to secure a permit, but he said he wants the event to happen with or without it.

Copyright 2018 WGCL-TV (Meredith Corporation). All rights reserved.

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