Atlanta’s Dem mayor under fire for highest homicide count in two decades
Nearly three weeks after Minneapolis resident George Floyd died in police custody, touching off a summer of protests and sometimes violent unrest, a Black man in Atlanta was killed by police.
Rayshard Brooks briefly joined the pantheon of those whose names Americans were supposed to “say” because he died at the hands of authorities – even after Brooks, a DUI suspect with a criminal record, had violently resisted arrest and, as he fled, aimed a Taser at a pursuing officer that he had wrestled away from one of the cops.
Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms criticized the cops, saying the shooting was unjustified just two days after it happened and then labeled it a “murder” long before an official review was complete. She also accepted the resignation of the police chief, endorsed the immediate firing of the officer who shot Brooks, and implemented reforms on use-of-force policies – all of which touched off a wave of “blue flu” among Atlanta’s predominantly Black police department.
All of that, as well as her criticism of President Donald Trump over coronavirus policy, elevated Bottoms’ status among Democrats. At one point she was floated as a possible VP pick for Joe Biden.
But it seems Bottoms’ reputation may have bottomed out with some of her constituents.
Local media recently noted that a handful of murders were committed in Atlanta within a 24-hour period over the holiday weekend. The most heartbreaking of them involved a 7-year-old girl killed by a stray bullet fired by a man who was among several arguing in a department-store parking lot.
Atlanta media reported the youngster’s death pushed the city’s 2020 homicide toll to 155, up 55 percent from 2019 and the highest number since 1998.
In response, some critics have called for the cops to get tougher. Hip-hop music producer Jermaine Dupri, an Atlanta native and resident, posted on social media, “If you really from the A, it’s time for us to come together and stop all this shooting s—. The police need to get tougher, the profiling needs to go to code red and I can give a f— about y’all getting mad about me saying this. Lil kids getting shot is wack.”
#BlackTwitter is dragging Jermaine Dupri for saying that police need to step it up. See the problem with messages like #DefundThePolice is that it perpetuates violence. Citizens no longer have respect for law in this country. We must have this conversation and be sensible. pic.twitter.com/iSslx16uyt
— Jake M. Henderson (@JakeMHenderson) December 27, 2020
According to other Twitter users, Dupri apparently deleted the tweet.
Still, even before the child was killed, other critics of Bottoms noted she was losing a grip on the city.
City Councilman Howard Shook said in a statement, “I lack the words to adequately convey the despair and anger so many of us feel about this latest and most painful example of the utter lawlessness that defines what it means to live in Atlanta.”
— Atlanta City Council (@atlcouncil) December 23, 2020
“It is obvious that the civilian authorities do not control the streets and cannot provide even a token feeling of safety beyond our front doors. To the administration, I don’t want to hear the word ‘uptick.’ Stop minimizing our concerns by telling us that ‘crime is up everywhere.’ Spare us from the lie that the steady outflow of our officers isn’t as bad as it is. And please, not another throw-away press conference utterly devoid of game-changing action steps.”
“It will take a lot to turn this around,” Shook continued. “But here, in descending order, are the three things we need to begin: 1). Leadership; 2). Some leadership; 3). Any leadership.”