The Oral History of Freaknik

The Oral History of Freaknik

The End:

Adina Howard: Everything has its run. It was just getting too big for the city. And it was just starting to get out of control. Atlanta did not want that image. They wanted a family type of image, and it is the South. They were like, “Y’all gotta get up outta here. We like the money but, all money ain’t good money.”

Derrick Boazman: The mayor makes a decision that has to be controlled and contained and then puts together a public safety plan that either you were going to go into downtown onto Auburn Avenue and a street festival kind of set up or they just rode you around the city. And if you did not know Atlanta, you became very frustrated because they closed off exits, sent cars out of the way. It really was the effort to really contain, and to discourage people from coming and it worked. The bottom line is that at the end of day the crowds began to not be as large because they also saw a city that was not hospitable towards what had become Freaknik.


"The bottom line is that at the end of day, the crowds began to not be as large because they saw a city that was not hospitable towards what had become Freaknik.
—Derrick Boazman


Alex Tehrani: Freaknik fell apart after 1996. First of all, the cops had to get more involved, there were a couple murders. And so their presence became more visible, and so that kind of took the fun away. Since then it’s kind of crumbled.

Derrick Boazman: People attribute the shutdown of Freaknik to Bill Campbell. But here’s the political tug of war—the black community as well as the white community said, “This is just a rolling party. It has no control.” By that time it’s not college students alone. The thug element had seen this as an opportunity to co-opt that effort. One year you saw looting and breaking of windows at Greenbriar Mall, and you saw that downtown. So, it really became a public safety nightmare. And by the time I make it to Atlanta City council in 1998, it’s really a political quagmire because on the one hand you had a picture of just innocent college students coming from Miami and Wisconsin and coming from all over the country. But the reality of it is, Freaknik had taken on an element that was dangerous to the public safety of the city. The mayor was receiving pressure from both black and the white community... There was an attempt to organize it, and what people found is that the young people simply did not want organization. They wanted to have an outlet to party as much as they could.

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