The Atlanta Journal Constitution reports that Atlanta’s murder rate is now the per capita equal of Chicago, Illinois. The skyrocketing levels of homicide in Atlanta follow what columnist David Horowitz has identified as standing national trends.
Anyone with a functioning brain could have easily anticipated this ignominious distinction coming. Metro Atlanta gang arrests rates have been dismally low for years. Instead of instituting initiatives to battle the booming brutality, most political leaders have opposed them, only to double down on expanding de-incarceration of dangerous gang members in the name of criminal justice reform. Rather than demanding decisive intervention on behalf of public safety, the mainstream media cheers this dereliction, never challenging prosecutors, law enforcement officials or legislators as gangs have their way with metastasizing impunity.
And it will only get worse. The Georgia Gang Investigators Association (“GGIA”) recently researched charging under Georgia’s anti-gang law (O.C.G.A. § 16-15-4) for January 1 through October 1, 2020. The results show that the hike in Atlanta murders and shootings are only a harbinger of more devastation to come.
The raw arrest warrant numbers for Georgia’s largest counties according to GGIA are: Cobb (28); DeKalb (26); Fulton (23); and Gwinnett (56). This is against the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s estimate of 50,000 gang members in Metro Atlanta as recently as 2018.
Seriously? The two counties housing Atlanta (Fulton and DeKalb) could not find 50 gang members to arrest in the middle of a mass murder wave? Cobb County, once venerated as a champion in the anti-gang fight, could not manage to charge 30 gang members in nearly a year’s time? Georgia’s second largest county, Gwinnett, cannot approach charging 100 gang crimes?
No wonder Atlanta is at Chicago levels of murders. With this sort of wholesale capitulation to deviance, Georgia’s capital is quickly devolving into a gang crime Gehenna.
Where are our political, law enforcement, and prosecution leaders? Far too many appear to be sitting this out, apparently preferring political correctness to saving children’s lives. For instance, with violent crime rising nationally, a cynical bipartisan effort derailed Governor Brian Kemp’s anti-gang legislation in 2020. The result? Atlanta is now on par with Chicago for killings.
Compounding the public safety error, rather than reinitiate and expand on Kemp’s well-reasoned proposals, Georgia legislators are instead pushing to strike Georgia’s citizen arrest laws.
Talk about off-the-mark! This is like treating a COVID patient with a bandage.
Who, in the name of common sense, would react this way?
Gang charging has been appropriately characterized as a prosecutor leadership issue. So when will the Democrat district attorneys in DeKalb and Fulton Counties publicly demand better coordination in the fight against gangs from Atlanta law enforcement, the state of Georgia and their own staffs? When will Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms Bottoms and DeKalb CEO Mike Thurmond demand more anti-gang warrants from their police departments? When will the daily Atlanta newspaper finally get motivated to report on Atlanta’s minimal levels of gang charging?
They should look at the example of Fresno County California District Attorney Lisa Smittcamp, who courageously spoke truth to power: “Stop using COVID-19 to promote your political agenda. The blood of the children being shot by out-of-control gang members in our city is on your hands, and on the hands of every person who does not make public safety a priority.”
One thing is for sure, the mainstream media will continue to sit on its rounded heels. Statistics showing infinitesimal gang charging has been available for years. The AJC, like so many others in the mainstream media, has yet to confront public officials. This apparent indifference continues as victims pile-up and more children die.
That includes Secoriea Turner, an eight-year-old girl murdered this summer in a zone where police were ordered to stay away by Bottoms. Last week, attorneys for her family announced plans for a multi-million-dollar lawsuit against Atlanta officials in connection with her death. Legal experts believe that Atlanta’s historic low-gang charging may well be a major part of the plaintiff’s case.
And perhaps a seven-figure verdict is exactly what City of Atlanta officials, and many others need to remember— and say— Secoriea Turner’s name.
Looking at the levels of carnage, many compare Chicago to a warzone in the Middle East, referring to it as “Chi-Raq.”
With parallel murder levels in Atlanta, we could well expect our city to soon be referred to as “Atlantistan.”
Perhaps then, media and politicians will begin to care.
Phil Kent is the CEO & publisher of InsiderAdvantage Georgia and James magazine.