Officials in the wealthy Atlanta district of Buckhead are looking to separate and form their own city amid skyrocketing crime rates.
“We have two bills in the Georgia legislature dropping in January to decide this referendum ballot. We filed our divorce papers at the city of Atlanta and our divorce is final,” Bill White, the CEO of the Buckhead City Committee, told Fox News’s Bill Hemmer on Thursday, going on to estimate that between 75 and 80 percent of residents are in favor of separating.
White went on to criticize the city leadership in Atlanta, especially Mayor Keisha Bottoms, for rising crime rates that he says they seem to be ignoring, even as they focus on further defunding an already underfunded and demoralized police force.
The move to separate from Atlanta is years in the making, White noted, but the final straw appears to be due to a shooting that occurred earlier this month. Buckhead resident Andrew Worrell, a father of three, was struck with two bullets while taking his usual three-mile jog, allegedly by a young black male who drove up and opened fire. The same male is accused of striking another Buckhead resident with his vehicle as he took out the trash the same morning. Both victims survived, but two other Buckhead residents reported being shot at around the same time.
(Video: Fox News)
“They are just not paying attention to the crime. The leadership vacuum is substantial,” White told Hemmer. “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.”
“They feel demoralized, underpaid, underrecognized, and being told not to fight crime in the way they would like to,” White said of the Atlanta Police Department, noting that the new Buckhead City would have its own force that would be empowered to tackle crime.
“We love the Atlanta Police Department but we’ll form Buckhead City with its own police department, with significantly greater presence on the streets,” White told the Fox News anchor.
“We’re going to get a hold of it here in Buckhead,” White said of the worsening crime rate. “We’ll have our own court. We’ll have our own judge. We’ll have our own jail. And we are going to put the smackdown on this crime once and for all here because the people of Buckhead have had enough.”
As of last week, aggravated assaults were up 52 percent year-over-year in Buckhead alone, compared to a rise of roughly half that amount in greater Atlanta, WXIA-TV reported after crunching the data. And while robberies in Atlanta were up by just 2 percent, they rose by 39 percent in Buckhead. Auto theft in Buckhead rose 40 percent compared to 27 percent in Atlanta overall.
“A new Buckhead city will do a much better job and will work very well with Atlanta. We’re going to help Atlanta. We’re going to be two strong cities, prosperous and safe, we pray,” White said.
Meanwhile, earlier this week, Bottoms, who was seriously under consideration to be then-Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden’s running mate, signed an order on Wednesday designating all public bathrooms in the city “all-gender.”
According to reports, Buckhead is just 20 percent of Atlanta’s population but accounts for 40 percent of all property value wealth in the city. Residents there contribute an estimated 25-30 percent of all tax revenue to Atlanta, as well.
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