Atlanta’s mayor blames ‘Covid crime wave’ on Republicans reopening state, not Dem’s anti-cop policies

Atlanta’s Democrat Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms is apparently trying deflect responsibility for the surging lawlessness in the city by laying some of the blame at the the doorstop of the state’s GOP governor, Brian Kemp, for what she described as a “COVID crime wave.”

The mayor seems to be assailing guns (and gun laws) rather than the wrongdoers who use them for rising criminal activity that she insists is occurring across the country and not just in her backyard.

When MSNBC host Stephanie Ruhle pointed out that homicides are up 50 percent from before COVID, Bottoms pivoted to the pandemic and its aftermath, inasmuch as Kemp began easing various restrictions in late March, when Ruhle asked the mayor directly what she was doing about crime.

“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. So our nightclubs and our bars remain open. We have people traveling here from across the country to party in our city. So we believe our…numbers are from 2015, which they are still up.

“But again, this is an happening in cities across the country. If it were an Atlanta issue alone, then I would know there was something we weren’t getting right addressing this issue. But when I’m talking to mayors and hearing from mayors in cities across the country in 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.”

Kemp responded by pointing to Democrats’ “anti-police” policies.

“According to the mayor, rising crime in our capital city is everyone’s fault but hers,” he said. “Getting Georgians back to work, back to school, and back to normal didn’t lead to more crime. The left’s anti-police, soft-on-crime agenda is to blame.”

Lockdown, gun control, and vaccine advocate Bottoms, who was reportedly on the short list as Joe Biden’s running mate, is not seeking reelection in 2021 for a second term, and some political observers believe that ATL’s crime rate is the reason.

Republicans and Republican-leaning voters aren’t too enamored with Kemp either. The governor presided over watered-down voting procedures in the 2020 election and only took action after the fact.

That, in part, is why he is facing a reelection primary challenge from pro-Trump, Democrat-turned-Republican, ex-state legislature Vernon Jones.

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported some grim statistics for the capital city and Georgia’s most-populous municipality even during the lockdown:

Atlanta police have investigated 64 homicide cases in 2021, a 58% increase over this time last year. The surge follows a historically deadly 2020, when authorities investigated 157 homicide cases — the most in more than two decades. Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms has referred to the spike in violence as a “COVID crime wave,” but the city’s death toll continues to mount as more Georgians get vaccinated and life returns to normal.

As of June, Atlanta’s murders are up and shootings have increased by 40%, according to the latest data. Meanwhile, overall arrests are down by about 43% as Atlanta’s police force remains more than 400 officers under its authorized level.

More than 200 officers quit the force in 2020, many after criminal charges were filed against the two involved in the deadly shooting of Rayshard Brooks and other officers who used their Tasers on two college students during last summer’s protests downtown. Another 75 Atlanta police officers have left since the start of the year, records show.

 

In the MSNBC interview, which surprisingly for the liberal network contained some non-softball questions, Mayor Bottoms denied that cops are being insufficiently proactive because of anti-police sentiment or disproportionately cashing out with their pensions.

“Our officers are still showing up to do the job that they were sworn to do. But law enforcement across the nation has really had a difficult time retaining and attracting people into law enforcement,” Bottoms said. “What we’re seeing right now in Atlanta, people who are eligible for retirement in previous years perhaps would have considered staying on the force a bit longer, people are leaving the force, and again, this is not just happening in Atlanta, it’s happening across the country.”

“So our officers are still showing up, doing the job that they were sworn to do, trying to protect our communities,” she added. “But you have to remember, law enforcement shows up after a crime has been committed… so we are making the arrests, but what we have to do as leaders and what we have to do in communities across America, we’ve got to stop these shootings from happening on the front end, and it’s going to take work from all of us.”

Watch the portion of the interview that addresses the Atlanta crime wave as embedded below and draw your own conclusions:

 

The situation is getting so bad that the posh Atlanta enclave of Buckhead is attempting to file for divorce from the city and establish its own legal entity with its own police force because of a vacuum in political leadership at the top.

Bill White, CEO and chairman of the Buckhead City Committee, described Buckhead residents as “living in a war zone” given the massive spike in crime.

At the beginning of that portion of the interview, the mayor claimed that “we are doing every single thing we can” about the crime, including obtaining outside support, implementing prevention programs, and providing summer jobs for about 1,000 young people.

Mayors of cities big and small “are all grappling with the same issues,” she said.

“Until we deal with the systemic issues of gun violence in this country, how easily young people, people with mental illnesses, can access guns in this country, I’m afraid that this will not be the last summer that we are having this conversation,” the mayor added.

Help may or may not be on the way for Atlanta in the next election. Late last month, a city councilman running for mayor who supports defunding the police was a victim of the near-equivalent of a carjacking by a group of pre-teens.

 

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Robert Jonathan

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