Basil Eleby and I-85 bridge (Photo Source: Fulton County Jail and GDOT)

In March 2017, Basil Eleby became infamous for allegedly starting a fire in Atlanta that took out a portion of Interstate 85 near downtown. Eleby was accused of being high on crack and setting a shopping cart with a chair on fire beneath an underpass. The fire spread to building supplies left in place for years by contractors with the Georgia Department of Transportation.

Many believe Eleby became a scapegoat for an incident that achieved national attention and became the image of a stereotypical Black crackhead. Activists in Atlanta supported the idea that a grave injustice was about to be carried out based on Eleby’s race, addiction and the word of two White homeless crackheads. It was revealed that Eleby had the mental capacity of an adolescent and had been homeless since his late teens. People who knew Eleby for years stepped forward to attest that although he was mentally ill, he was harmless. Since the incident, Eleby has been on bond and under the care of a private rehabilitation and counseling service under the supervision of the court.

Rolling out was contacted early this morning by noted attorney and activist lawyer Mawuli Davis with an update. The Davis-Bozeman law firm is one of many legal entities that have offered pro-bono services to Eleby. According to Davis, a Notice of Alibi Witness and a motion to admit Basil Eleby’s polygraph results were filed. Eleby’s defense team has a witness who has stated he was with Eleby at the time of the fire and Eleby was nowhere near the site. In addition, Eleby’s polygraph results show him as being truthful in his declaration of being innocent of setting the fire.

Rolling out will continue to follow this developing story.

Mo Barnes

"Mo Betta" Maurice "Mo" Barnes is a graduate of Morehouse College and Political Scientist based in Atlanta. Mo is also a Blues musician.