Residents in an affluent Atlanta neighborhood are attempting to form their own police department as part of a secessionist movement, as the area is wracked by a crime surge, with murders rising by 80% so far this year.
The Buckhead Exploratory Committee, which is made up of members of Atlanta’s wealthiest community, Buckhead, is seeking to split free from the city in the face of a spike in violent crime that has left citizens “genuinely afraid about their welfare.”
Home security video showed the moment a resident dashed to the cover of his home when a vehicle drove up with a man brandishing a gun in recent months.
Meanwhile, in the wealthy neighborhood known as the ‘Beverly Hills of the South,’ one woman was tossed to the pavement in her drive and had a pistol aimed at her head before thieves fled with her purse and mobile.
When a seven-year-old child was shot in the head and killed on a Christmas trip to the store with her parents in December, the crime took the lives of the town’s younger victims.
The rise in violence in Buckhead is part of a larger trend that has occurred around the city in the last year, the recent shooting murder of black person Rayshard Brooks by a white officer in June. About 200 cops quit the department in the aftermath of Brooks’ death.
Many officers resigned as a result of Brooks’ death and the ensuing protests in the area, which coincided with a national outcry demanding an end to police violence and institutional racism.
Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms acknowledged in December that she had no idea how to avoid the disturbing surge of abuse and is happy to respond to suggestions.
Residents of Buckhead, according to the Buckhead Exploratory Committee, seek to shape their own police department because they no longer feel comfortable going about their everyday lives.
They mentioned that our citizens are genuinely worried about their safety and wellbeing of their relatives.
And when doing regular activities such as walking to the gas store, local shopping centre, grocery shopping, or just driving into their driveways, people must be alert and on the lookout for someone hidden in the woods.
The idea had been proposed prior to the latest crime surge, but it gained additional traction in 2020 when locals expressed their fears over an increase in car racing and criminality.
Separating the affluent, overwhelmingly white community from the majority of Atlanta, which again is majority black, has been criticized by city leaders, who contend that it will funnel off most of the city’s revenue base and, as a consequence, its spending.
76% of Buckhead’s inhabitants are white, while 24% are African-American. According to Data US, the population of Atlanta as a whole is 50% black and 38% white.
Apart from secession, other inhabitants of Buckhead are preparing to migrate to safer areas of the suburbs to avoid growing crime issues.
After losing her ‘sense of protection’ inside her own house after an assault and robbery on her drive in January, one female told the Wall Street Journal that she and several of her colleagues are preparing to relocate.
Lauren Lenoir, a 43-year-old diner managing partner, said she was driving home one night after a change when two guys approached her and hurled her to the pavement.
They reportedly assaulted her with a pistol before escaping with her bag and mobile.
‘He was absolutely unconcerned about my defense.’ They’ve taken everything from me that I can’t get back, and that has taken away my feeling of security, ‘she said.
After he was pursued back to the house after purchasing takeaway food for his relatives last year, a further person, who has lived in the area since 2002, said some of his neighbours are also looking at moving.
Security footage depicts him arriving home and being pursued by a man who drives up alongside him and draws out a gun.
The survivor is seen sprinting into his house and dialing 911, prompting the perpetrator to escape.
He told the Wall Street Journal, “You are sort of optimistic that it is a short-term trend.”
‘At first, it feels like it’s a one-time occurrence, but then it happens regularly, and you tend to think if we’re all being dumb for living here.’
Mell before Xmas, eight year old Kennedy Maxie was brutally murdered, shot in the top of the head whilst sitting in a vehicle with her aunt and mother in Buckhead, in one of the area’s most disturbing crimes.
When some men in a neighboring parking lot got into a brawl that resulted in gunshots, the little girl had just completed her Xmas shopping with her relatives at the Phipps Plaza mall in the wealthy Atlanta neighborhood.
Kennedy died 5 days later as a result of her injury.
The crime escalated through the new year, with a man being fired in the early morning hours of February 28 at a Buckhead nightclub.
Robberies in zone two, which includes Buckhead, rose 40% from January 1 to February 20 relative to the same time last year, according to crime statistics from the Atlanta Police Department.
A 35 percent increase in aggravated robberies, a 63 percent increase in car burglary, and a 32 percent increase in larceny from auto theft. Offenses have increased by 13% year to date.
However, by this point last year, there had been two killings and two rapes, similar to one homicide and two sexual assaults this year so far.
In reaction to increasing complaints about the rash of violence, city officials and groups in the region launched the Buckhead Protection Initiative in the fall to secure businesses and citizens.
The initiative seeks to improve public safety by using officers from local and state departments.
The proposal is split into two main groups, the first of which is’ Deterrence and Compliance, ‘which calls for additional license plate readers and cameras to be mounted at all road crossings in the community.
According to the website, it also plans for a joint surveillance patrol comprised of extra-duty personnel from the Atlanta Police Department, the Fulton County Sheriff’s Office, and private security companies.
The proposal’s second category, named ‘Regulation & Procedural Reform,’ advocates for ‘new methods’ to long-standing problems, as well as crackdowns on noise, ‘street racing,’ and’spot testing overpopulation at troublesome premises. ‘
‘We are implementing steps to change current crime rates, keep criminals responsible, and rebuild public trust in Buckhead,’ said Jim Durrett, founder of the Buckhead Coalition and chief executive of the Buckhead Community Improvement District.
‘The stakeholders employed in this project realize the gravity of the scenario and are dedicated to reacting in aspects that meet the concerns of the moment while still maintaining Buckhead’s long-term viability.’
However, the spate of abuse spread beyond Buckhead, with murders up 80% in Atlanta from January 1 to February 20 relative to the same timeframe last year, according to crime statistics.
Shootings increased by 32%, robberies increased by 17%, and violent crimes and car thefts also increased by 47%.
As per a survey from the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, the year 2020 also represented the city’s darkest day in more than twenty years, with 157 lives lost, increasing from 99 the previous year.
Analysts and politicians attribute the increase in violence to the coronavirus pandemic and the fact that there are less police on the road as a result of scores of officers leaving just after Black Lives Matter demonstrations.
Again, after the Memorial Day suspected assassination of black person George Floyd by white police officer Derek Chauvin, upwards of 200 officers retired in 2020, triggering national demonstrations asking for an end to excessive violence and institutional racism.
Rayshard Brooks was gunned down by a white police officer in the car park of a Wendy’s restaurant in the city one month after Floyd’s murder, causing police shootings of black people nearer to home.
Brooks’ death caused much more anger in the community than Floyd’s death had.
Garrett Rolfe, the officer that shot Brooks to death, was discharged and charged with criminal homicide, attempted assault with a dangerous weapon, and a police officer’s oath breach.
In June, Police Chief Erika Shields resigned, and hundreds of officers rallied behind her in a ‘blue flu’ rally.
The force currently has about 1,700 officers, relative to the 2,046 that it was authorized to have at one point.
In January, Police Chief Rodney Bryant unveiled a slew of initiatives, involving new strategies for cops, a renewed emphasis on recruiting, and increased funding to combat gang and gun crime.
A violence surge shook several communities across America last year, according to new data published in January, when the pandemic drove millions into poverty and the police murder of George Floyd fuelled mistrust of police departments and prompted many policemen to retire.
Homicide incidence increased by 30% in 2020 relative to 2019 in 29 of the 34 cities studied in the National Commission on COVID-19 and Criminal Justice study, with an additional 1,268 citizens killed.
‘Trying to subdue the pandemic, increasing trust in the police and justice system, and introducing tested anti-violence policies would be crucial to maintaining a lasting peace in the nation’s cities,’ according to the study.
The coronavirus pandemic, as well as police manpower problems, have played a crucial role in the spike in violence, according to FBI Chief Christopher Wray, who appeared before the Senate Judiciary Committee.
‘The violent crime epidemic so far this year in particular, 2020, is one that we are quite carefully holding an eye on,’ he added.