Atlanta didn’t defund the police the way some cities attempted to last year, but it did experience riots last summer. Those eventually calmed down and then the shooting of Rayshard Brooks caused things to escalate again. Eventually, the Mayor’s split with the Atlanta PD was one of the reasons she decided not to run for office again.
Meanwhile crime is up in Atlanta just as it is in cities across the country. Yesterday the Washington Post reported Mayor Bottoms and police are struggling to deal with it:
In Atlanta, the homicide rate is up 50 percent over this time last year, and Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms (D) said she and her police commanders have been struggling to come up with concise reasons as they brace for a potentially rough summer.
In past years, Atlanta leaders say, they could link much of the violence to specific group and gang rivalries or the drug trade. But Bottoms said much of the recent violence has appeared to be far more random and is being driven predominantly by intense passions between individuals who usually “know each other.”
It’s not just homicides that are up. Rape and assault have also gone up about 30 percent this year compared to last year. And that has residents of Buckhead, a well-off, mostly white Atlanta neighborhood, thinking about splitting off and forming their own city. The move is largely seen as a way to deal with the increased crime.
“The mayor and the city council have been making bad decisions, so at what point does anyone with a brain say, ‘Enough?’ ” said Bill White, chairman of the Buckhead Exploratory Committee. “If crime is out of control and you are doing nothing about it, you are finished as a city.”…
So far this year, the police zone that includes much of Buckhead has experienced a 40 percent increase in homicides, a 39 percent hike in robberies and a 64 percent spike in car thefts, according to city statistics.
One crime in Buckhead that particularly shocked locals was the shooting of a 7-year-old girl last December outside of a local mall. A man named Daquan Reed was eventually arrested in Virginia for the crime. He (allegedly) had been in an argument with some other men in a mall parking lot and as he drove away fired three shots, one of which hit the girl in the head. But there have been several other shootings in the past few weeks:
On May 15…three bystanders, including a 71-year-old man, were shot and wounded in front of Buckhead’s Home Depot after a fight at a nearby apartment complex spilled out into the store parking lot.
Two days later, a man was shot and killed in the bathroom of a neighboring nightclub, even though an off-duty police officer was stationed at the club, according to city leaders. Last week, a homeless man attacked and attempted to rape a teacher in broad daylight as she was entering her Buckhead housing complex, according to local media reports.
The fact that these crimes involve random people has a lot of residents feeling unsafe. But there’s a real concern from Mayor Bottoms and others that if Buckhead were to secede it would put a serious dent in the city’s tax base:
According to an analysis by the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, if Buckhead were to become its own city, it would be 74 percent White and its residents would have a median income of $140,000. The proposed Buckhead City would also sap 40 percent of Atlanta’s property wealth. The population of the remaining Atlanta would be 59 percent Black — up from 50 percent — and the median household income would drop to $52,000 from $60,000, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution concluded.
The loss of Buckhead’s tax base would make it even more difficult for Atlanta to fund public safety measures — including hiring more police — a point not lost on residents of the south side of the city, like Jason Dozier.
On one hand, it really would be a disaster for the rest of the city as it tries to get a handle on crime. On the other hand, residents of Buckhead shouldn’t be blamed for worrying about the crime in their own neighborhood which is spiking.
If nothing else, this should be a flashing red light to city leaders that big spikes in violent crime are not something residents are willing to tolerate for very long. If Atlanta wants to prevent secessions like this from happening, it needs to deal with the crime problem and do it quickly. And realistically, that means hiring more police and telling BLM activists who are still pushing defunding efforts to back off.
Speaking of which, an Atlanta city councilman named Antonio Brown who has previously pushed to defund police and who is now running for mayor on a “reimagining public safety” platform, had his car stolen last week:
Brown said the thieves jumped in his vehicle Wednesday after he got out to speak with community leader Ben Norman. He noted his white Mercedes-Benz coupe has keyless push-to-start ignition and he failed to realize it had been started, reports said.
The councilman described the kids as being between ages 6 and 12, FOX 5 reported…
Brown added that he held on to the car in an attempt to stop them and was dragged about a block down the road before letting go.
True to form, Brown is not filing charges against the kids who stole his Mercedes.