July 19, 2016. The day of the Go-mageddon. The town: Newnan, Georgia. City Council passed an ordinance banning anyone from playing the worldwide phenomenon Pokémon Go in local cemeteries, claiming they are defacing and disrespecting the sacred grounds, violation punishable by up to a $1000 fine or six months in jail. The vast majority of Newnan’s PokéStops are in cemeteries.As a Newnanite myself I can assure you, there is nothing in town. We’re between a large town and a small city, but even so, there aren’t many “landmarks” that appear as PokéStops. That is, until you get to the cemeteries. One of Newnan’s prides is that we were one of the few cities not burned on the famous Sherman’s March—this is rumored because he had a mistress here. So Newnan has the majority of the few original antebellum structures left in the South. (Our other pride is that Newnan is the hometown of Alan Jackson.) However, most of these are privately owned homes, and therefore can’t really be used as public gaming hubs. Cemeteries, though, are open to the public, and full of historical gravesites and monuments. They’re the center of Pokémon Go in Newnan. One cemetery in particular has roughly 15-20 PokéStops and two Gyms, and it isn’t even the biggest one in town. You can imagine what sort of jackpot that is to any Pokémon trainer.
But to immediately shut that down, it makes me wonder: do the old, wealthy, bitter people governing Newnan under the table (it’s almost like Gatsby; old money makes the rules) have anything better to do than ruin some kids’ fun? Sure, I get it. Desecrating graves is a horrendous act. But couldn’t you just make police patrol there more often to assure everything is okay? Put up some cameras or something? Why must the entire operation be shut down? I’d bet just about every dollar I have (although, as a college student, that isn’t saying much) that 99% of these “criminals” are kids under sixteen. Most of them are just playing and having fun; they aren’t trying to cause any harm. Make a law requiring parental accompaniment at cemeteries; you can’t be in Ashley Park after nine P.M. without an adult, so why can’t the same principle be applied here? The only time I would find it acceptable to ban Pokémon players would be if a funeral was being held that day. I wouldn’t want someone running up by my great aunt Lucy’s casket screaming about an Eevee. But the time, energy, and money (towards salaries, press releases, etc.) that it took to make this dumb idea come to life was an incredible waste. Now instead of police patrolling to keep Newnan safe, they’ll be arresting eight-year-olds for trying to get a Bulbasaur.
Is this really Newnan’s priority? Rather than the large number of underage drug dealers, the terrible drivers, and the shady under-the-table deals between government and businesses? It’s not that Newnan is a bad town, really, it’s quite nice. Every town has its’ problems. But is Pokémon Go the Council’s most pressing matter? Citizens have protested all over social media, so much that the ordinance was covered on Fox 5 Atlanta. It’s pretty obvious to everyone that this is a completely ridiculous ordinance that will be nothing but a waste of policemen’s time and a downer to Pokémon trainers everywhere. Newnan City Council, do you have nothing better to do?