The gay pastor who was attacked and robbed at gunpoint last month in Piedmont Park stood with Mayor Kasim on Tuesday to deliver the invocation as the city re-opened several recreation centers.
Rev. Josh Noblitt (top photo) and Reed (bottom photo) met less than three weeks ago during a LGBT town hall meeting on July 22. Noblitt attended the 90-minute session and questioned police Chief George Turner about what actions the city was taking to provide opportunities for the city’s youth. Noblitt and his boyfriend, Trent Williams, were attacked in the park by six people ranging in age from 13 to 19. Police quickly arrested the suspects, who are being charged as adults in the case.
Reed interrupted Turner to answer Noblitt’s question and pointed to his plans for re-opening city recreation centers that were closed due to budget cuts. The mayor’s first budget includes $3.7 million to bolster the programming of all 33 centers in the city. He’s also joined with the private sector to help fund his initiative.
“At the LGBT town hall meeting, I stood up and asked Chief Turner if they had a vision for providing some meaningful opportunities for young people to get them off the streets so they are not causing problems,” Noblitt said Tuesday. “And Mayor Reed stood up and talked about opening up these facilities and trying to channel funding into programming for young people. As a result of that, they invited me to come be a part of the celebration today.”
Noblitt delivered the invocation after Reed joined with city and civic leaders to cut the ribbon for the refurbished gym of the Central Park Recreation Center.
“I want to celebrate the leadership and vision of the mayor and the folks that made this happen. But I also want to ask for a special blessing on the young people that will be coming to these facilities that they will find mentors and people that can guide them on the path of love and that they have meaningful opportunities to do great things with their lives,” Noblitt said minutes before he delivered the invocation at Tuesday’s event.
The park where Noblitt joined Reed was the same place that a 31-year-old Marietta man was robbed and severely beaten last month by a man he had met earlier. George Walker’s vehicle was found in the Eagle parking lot a few blocks away. Police arrested Gregory Johnson, 30, a few days after the attack and charged him with robbery and aggravated battery.
For Noblitt, the re-opening of the recreation centers is a positive outcome of his attack last month. On July 18, Noblitt joined dozens of supporters for a picnic in Piedmont to reclaim the park and the place where he was assaulted.
“What happened to me in the park is a reminder that these [recreation centers] need to happen. It is an investment we are making in young people – this is a long-term investment,” Noblitt said.