In an interview with MSNBC’s Stephanie Ruhle on Friday, the mayor attributed a 50 percent increase in homicides, in part, to lax gun laws, teenagers having too much free time on their hands and the state lifting its COVID-19 restrictions back in April.
‘Remember, in Georgia, we were opened up before the rest of the country, even before the CDC said that it was safe for us to open,’ Bottoms explained to Ruhle.
‘So our night clubs and our bars remained open, so we had people traveling here from across the county to party in our city.’
Gov. Brian Kemp ordered the state to re-open from its COVID closure on April 20 last year, leading to an influx of visitors from Alabama, South Carolina, Tennessee, Florida and North Carolina, where some restrictions remained in place, according to CNN.
Researchers at the University of Maryland discovered that out-of-state trips to the state from across the nation rose by 13 percent, or 62,441 trips a day following the decision.
Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms blamed the rising crime in the city on the state lifting its COVID restrictions too early and lax gun laws in an interview on Friday
The mayor also said the pandemic ‘left a lot of people battered and bruised, not just physically, but also emotionally,’ which led to an increase in personal disputes that could easily be exacerbated by guns.
‘Until we deal with the systemic issues of gun violence in this country – how easily young people with mental illness can access guns in this country, I’m afraid that this will not be the last summer that we are having this conversation.’
She said her city is working with the FBI to clamp down on gun violence while starting a new summer program for teenagers to get them off the streets.
‘We’re looking for outside support and resources, working with all of our partners,’ Bottoms sad, adding: ‘We have really put a push to getting young people to work.
‘We believe that getting at least 1,000 young people to work this summer will help, but there is so much to do.’
Atlanta has seen a rise in crime in every category over the past year
She noted that Atlanta is not the only American city experiencing a crime wave as the pandemic wanes, with shootings in New York City up about 68 percent over last year, according to the New York Post.
‘If it were an Atlanta issue alone, then I’d know that there was something we weren’t getting right,’ the mayor said.
‘But I’m talking to mayors and hearing from mayors in cities and large urban areas, we’re all experiencing this, which means that we all have to work together to find a solution to this gun violence that is gripping our nation.’
In Atlanta, homicides were up 58 percent over last year, rapes were up 97 percent, robberies were up 2 percent, aggravated assault was up 26 percent, larcenies from vehicles was up 27 percent and auto theft was up 36 percent compared to last year, according to data from the Atlanta Police Department.
Shootings, meanwhile, were up 40 percent.
The mayor’s comments come just one day after residents in the wealthy Buckhead neighborhood of the city announced that they had filed documents in the State Legislature to secede amid the growing crime wave in the area.
Bill White, the CEO of the Buckhead City Committee, which is leading the secession push, announced on FOX News Thursday that the committee has filed secession papers
Residents of Buckhead anticipate a referendum next year will allow them to secede from Atlanta. The boundaries of their proposed new city are seen above
BUCKHEAD, GEORGIA: ONE OF THE NATION’S WEALTHIEST ZIP CODES
Buckhead is known as Atlanta’s commercial and residential district, famed for its high-rise buildings and shopping centers, hotels and mansions.
The neighborhood is a historically wealthy district and was once ranked the ninth richest zip code in the country with a median price of homes of $1,460,595, according to Forbes.
American suburban luxury home in Buckhead, Atlanta
Bloomberg named Buckhead the 20th richest zipcode in the nation in 2011, when the average household net worth there was $1,353,189.
The average household income was $280,631.
Because of this, Buckhead is often called the ‘Beverly Hills of the East/South’, in reference to the upscale city in California.
Buckhead is also known to have a few notable residents, including Georgia Republican Kelly Loeffler.
Loeffler was among the wealthiest members of Congress until she lost her seat in January. In 2009, she and her husband spent more than $10million on a European-style mansion named Descante in the Buckhead neighborhood.
‘We filed our divorce papers at the city of Atlanta and our divorce is final,’ said Bill White, the CEO of the Buckhead City Committee, in an interview with Fox News on Thursday.
He said Atlanta’s elected officials ‘are just not paying attention to the crime.’
Aggravated assaults were up 52 percent in the wealthy neighborhood as of last week, compared to a rise of 26 percent citywide, according to an analysis of police data by WXIA-TV.
Robberies citywide were up just 2 percent, but in Buckhead they are up 39 percent, while larceny from automobiles rose 40 percent in Buckhead and 27 percent citywide.
And on June 5, father-of-three Andrew Worrell was struck twice by bullets while jogging at around 8.35am. He survived and has since been released from hospital to recover at home.
‘I don’t like saying anything bad about Mayor Bottoms. I’m sure she is a nice human being … but she has completely let our officers down,’ he added.
‘They feel demoralized, underpaid, underrecognized and being told not to fight crime in the way they would like to,’ added White.
‘We love the Atlanta police department but we’ll form Buckhead City with its own police department, with significantly greater presence on the streets.’
He estimated nearly 80 percent of his community will vote in favor of the separation from Atlanta in a referendum expected to reach the ballot next year.
Currently, a bill authorizing the referendum has been introduced in the Georgia House of Representatives, and the legislature will be able to vote on it in the 2022 session.
But Atlanta officials have largely opposed the idea to separate the wealthy, largely white neighborhood from the rest of Atlanta, which is predominantly black, arguing it would siphon away much of the city’s tax base and, in turn, its budget.
Buckhead’s population is 73.5 percent white and 23.9 percent black. This compares to the wider Atlanta population which is 50.7 percent black and 38 percent white, according to census data.
Data analysis shows that Buckhead’s population accounts for 20 percent of Atlanta’s population, but more than 40 per cent of the city’s assessed property value.