Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms has blamed the current violent crime spike in her city on Georgia's Republican governor reopening too early. Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp refuted those claims and told Bottoms to look at her party's "anti-police agenda" for the surge in violent crime.
Homicides in Atlanta are up 58% compared to 2020, according to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, which noted that there were 157 homicides in a "historically deadly 2020," the most in more than two decades. In June, murders and shootings are up 40%. All while Atlanta's police force "remains more than 400 officers under its authorized level." There were 200 police officers who quit the force in 2020, and another 75 cops left since the start of the year.
The crime has gotten so out of control that one Atlanta neighborhood wants a divorce from the city because they believe the police are underfunded.
Bill White, chairman and CEO of the Buckhead City Committee, told Fox News, "We filed our divorce papers at the city of Atlanta — and our divorce is final. We have two bills in the Georgia legislature dropping in January to decide this referendum ballot."
On Friday, MSNBC's Stephanie Ruhle asked Bottoms about the violent crime spike, which the Atlanta mayor has previously called a "COVID crime wave."
"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 night clubs and our bars remained open so we had people traveling here from across the country to party in our city," Bottoms replied.
Bottoms then seemed to contradict herself in her next statement, where she said violent crime is up in cities across the country, including in Democrat-controlled states that only recently opened back up this month.
"If it were an Atlanta issue alone then I'd know that there was something that we weren't getting right… 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," Bottoms told Ruhle.
Gov. Kemp responded to Bottoms' implications that he was at fault for the violent crime surge in her city, and told her to look inward about the rising crime rate.
"According to the mayor, rising crime in our capital city is everyone's fault but her's," Kemp fired back on Twitter. "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."
"That's why I worked alongside the General Assembly to increase penalties for dangerous street racing and committed additional funding for state law enforcement officers to assist in crime suppression efforts in Atlanta," the Republican governor of Georgia said. "Keeping our families safe will remain my top priority."
Bottoms also blamed the coronavirus pandemic and access to guns for Atlanta's crime crisis.
Bottoms said that "COVID left a lot of people battered and bruised, not just physically but also emotionally," which led to an increase in personal disputes between people who have an "inability or an unwillingness to simply resolve conflict with words."
"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," Bottoms told the left-wing cable network.
Bottoms admitted that law enforcement officers are leaving the police force in droves.
"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."
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