The last time the city’s homicide count was this high was in 1998, when the department investigated 154 deaths, records show. The Atlanta Police Department investigated 99 homicides in all of 2019.
“I am deeply concerned about the spike that we are seeing in our homicides,” Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms recently told the AJC, “not just our homicides, but also with our aggravated assaults.”
Following the little girl’s death, conflicts between Bottoms and members of the city council started to spill out in the open. Councilman Howard Shook was sharply critical in a statement on December 22nd:
“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. But here, in descending order, are the three things we need to begin: 1). Leadership; 2). Some leadership; 3). Any leadership.”
It was a throw-away press conference that vaulted Bottoms to the national spotlight in the early days of the George Floyd riots. A viral video of her pleading with rioters to stop the madness actually had her name on people’s lists as a potential VP pick for Joe Biden. Her anemic response to the criticism of Shook and other council members proves how shallow the Democrat bench is:
“While we continue to keep public safety as a top priority, senseless gun violence continues to impact innocent lives,” she said. “If there are solutions that we have not explored and enacted, I welcome the suggestions, as I am always open to making the city that I am raising my children in a safer place for us all.”
Plenty of us suggested that she stop dragging her police department this summer. She also could have reined in her politically vulnerable district attorney and prevented him from overcharging an officer in what most commentators believe is a justified shooting. Perhaps she could have stood by her popular and, by all accounts, effective chief of police during those challenging weeks. That would have been some leadership.
Instead, the chief resigned. Bottoms herself came out and gave a scathing rebuke of the officer-involved shooting. She said that even if it was justified, it should not have happened. What were Atlanta officers supposed to deduce from that? Many figured out that even if you do your job correctly and have to use justified lethal force, the mayor will not support you.
There were resignations, sickouts, and Atlanta’s own version of the Ferguson effect. She begged other jurisdictions for assistance and was flatly denied because of her own rhetoric and her insane district attorney. Meanwhile, a Wendy’s was burned to the ground and turned into Atlanta’s own version of CHAZ.
Members of the city council actually tried to negotiate with the criminals squatting at the Wendy’s. They thought a reasonable solution was to seize the private property the Wendy’s was on and create a shrine dedicated to the man shot by police — shot after he resisted arrest for drunk driving, beat the officers, stole their taser, and shot it at them.
Then an eight-year-old girl was killed in her mother’s car as she attempted to turn and drive away from the chaotic intersection where the Wendy’s once stood. Governor Brian Kemp had had enough of the chaos in the state’s largest city and sent in the National Guard to secure it. And Atlanta, along with Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms, faded from the national stage.
Lots of people had suggestions. Bottoms took none of them. If she wants to know why violent crime is on the rise in her city, she needs to look no further than a mirror. She decimated her police department’s morale, refused to wait for a full investigation of the events, and betrayed them in public. All in an effort to pander to the woke.
If she is open to suggestions now, a public, heartfelt, genuine, and contrite apology to the men and women in blue is a good place to start. She owes them one.