Is Atlanta safe? What’s been fueling the crime in the city? These are questions that we’ve all been hearing lately when folks talk about our city.
Atlanta is known for being the Gate City of the south with its southern charm, but for the past few months that charm has turned into tragedy. Just in the past few weeks the reports of crime have been higher than usual for this time of year. July 4th weekend 31 people were shot over a 3-day stretch. May 31st to June 20th we have had 75 shootings and 17 homicides. This week in a 7-day stretch murders are up 75% compared to last year’s 7-day crime count. Even with those numbers, homicides aren’t the top three for crimes that are happening in Atlanta. The top three crimes in the city are: larceny and theft, motor vehicle theft and aggravated assault. I know it’s disheartening to see these numbers when our community is still fighting for civil rights and under a global pandemic.
Now Atlanta is the crème de la crème of culture and black unity, but with these recent numbers it might not seem that way. Mayor Bottoms has called the most recent events that have contributed to the crimes a “Perfect Storm of Distress.” With being in quarantine, continuous injustice, gentrification during a pandemic, and the lack of public safety has heightened tension in our community. There are a few other indicators that have fueled the most recent crimes in Atlanta.
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Atlanta is known as a progressive city for African-Americans, hence the term “Black Mecca.” Even with being the black mecca, the city is still number one in the U.S. when it comes to economic inequality. With so many black owned businesses and black entrepreneurs in the city, the economic value on average of these businesses compared to other races has a $648,005 difference. (African American-owned businesses are valued at $58,085 and Asian owned-businesses are valued at $706,090, reports from AWBI) Not to mention the liquid assets of an average income in a black family household $55,617 difference compared to other races as well.
Since we are under a global pandemic, many people have had to file for unemployment. As of last week, the extra $600 people were receiving from FPUC (The Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation program) ended. Knowing this, many will be at the poverty line. Poverty and impoverished areas lead to high crime.
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Mental Health Challenges During Quarantine
Being in quarantine (COVID-19 has overstayed its welcome) can cause some mental health challenges within our community. Not being able to have the option to go outside for months or connect with your loved ones, builds ups a lot of tension in people. In addition to, economic stress, loss of community events and religious contact, and the negative Nancy’s on social media. Quarantine has made some people delirious and angry at the same time. The results of the pent up aggression, has led to some unfortunate events in our city.
As stated earlier, yes we are still fighting for civil rights in our community because our justice system fails to CONVICT murderers, the officers who killed Rayshaun Brooks, Breonna Taylor, and George Floyd. Constant reports and excessive force from APD during last month’s protests have fueled anger in our communities.
When Rayshaun Brooks was murdered, the tension in the city was thick. Already fed up with the injustice in other cities, it was even worse when it happened in our city. During this time cops have been mishandling college students and non-violent protesters. Many have quit. This tension has really been daunting on the city’s crime rate.
What is fueling the fire to Atlanta’s crime is hard to exactly pinpoint, but it’s time we as a community to address these issues. Atlanta can not continue to be the black mecca and operate in unity if there’s blood on the streets. During these times, it is important for us to remain safe and make sure we have protection so we can remain safe.
words by Kinyana Mccoy
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