Atlanta city leaders search for solutions amid gun violence crisis
ATLANTA - After yet another weekend riddled with gun violence-plagued Atlanta, city leaders are vowing to take action.
The wave of violence began Friday night, hours before sundown. It lasted well into Monday morning. In four separate shootings, four people were killed in the span of four hours early Monday.
On Monday evening, Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms said a committee to curb the amount of shootings will refocus its efforts.
"Atlantans deserve and expect a safe community," said Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms. "As our Administration continues to put considerable resources towards ending this COVID crime wave, the Anti-Violence Advisory Committee will begin work this week to make additional recommendations to help improve public safety throughout our city."
A spokesperson with the Atlanta Police Department issued a strongly-worded statement condemning the violence shortly thereafter.
"Gun violence isn’t a political issue. It is not a 2nd Amendment issue and it, not a race issue," the statement reads. "It is people making terrible decisions with guns, poor anger management, and it is a profound carelessness and lack of regard for human life issue."
The APD made a promise to find the shooters and arrest them.
"We will find you and ensure justice is served for the victims of these crimes," the statement read.
Meanwhile, Atlanta City Council Pres. Felicia Moore, who recently announced a mayoral run, renewed calls for the police department to crack open its books and let the council analyze shooting data.
"In identifying these trends, we can deploy targeted critical resources and begin working with neighborhoods across the city, the Council, and the Administration to take action in a collaborative manner," she said.
Other councilmembers seeking the mayor’s seat, which Bottoms gives up in seven months, had other ideas for how to tackle the gun crisis.
Councilmember Antonio Brown, who announced his candidacy on Friday, said he does not feel safe in his own city.
"I feel unsafe," he said. "Going outside my home, I feel unsafe pumping gas and it’s just the reality, it’s almost like the new norm of Atlanta."
Councilmember Andre Dickens said his daughter just got her driver’s license, and he worries about her safety too.
"The violence is just excessive," Dickens said.
Many of the shootings have been happening at or near nightclubs, including one Monday morning inside Azule Lounge in the Lindbergh neighborhood of the city.
Dickens said that cops need to step in to make sure patrons clear out after last call.
"We have to have a conversation with his club owners and bar owners and say listen, you can operate in this town and make a good living and feed your families and employees," he said. "But we are going to be there at 2:30, 3 o’clock to clear your parking lot."
READ MORE: Multiple shootings occur hours apart in metro Atlanta
On Monday evening, Mayor Bottoms initiated phase two of a nuisance property code change, which would "properties contributing to the commission of violent conduct or crime a public nuisance."
Dickens said after the latest shooting at Azule, they should go a step further.
"That’s unacceptable. You’re supposed to have metal detectors, you’re supposed to provide safety for your patrons," he said. "That club has to get their liquor license revoked because of that."
Brown said at the heart of the issue is a socioeconomic disparity in certain communities.
"We need to start addressing the root of what is driving crime which is generational poverty," Brown said. "When you have generational poverty go unaddressed for so long, what you see right now is a side effect."
He also wants city leaders to engage in a dialogue with gangs.
READ MORE: 'This city has a real, real problem': Georgia House Speaker weighs in on Atlanta crime
Green Party candidate Alex Barrella believes in a different approach.
"Something I wish to heavily push from executive office would be the defunding/abolition of our current policing institutions with the goal of putting in place a new department of public safety which uses diplomacy rather than force," he said in a statement emailed to FOX 5. "By reinvesting/reallocating the funding from APD; we will be able to invest primarily in personnel & safety concept-development over buying equipment of warfare."
Former Atlanta Police Department Detective Vince Velazquez believes the opposite is needed. He said Atlanta’s cops are stretched too thin.
"We’ve got street racing going on, we have a gang problem in this city," he said. "We have a gun problem in this city, and in this last weekend in a ten-hour span we saw several people shot and a couple people killed. That’s a lot of crime."
Atlanta police encourage anyone with tips to call Crime Stoppers Greater Atlanta at 404-577-TIPS (8477).
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