Atlanta Democratic Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms claims that Republicans in the statehouse who voted to lift Georgia’s COVID-19 restrictions contributed to the soaring crime rate in her city.
In an appearance on MSNBC on Friday, Bottoms told host Stephanie Ruhle that Gov. Brian Kemp’s decision on April 20 to ease lockdown restrictions was a major cause of the rise in crime, including a 50% jump in murders compared to pre-pandemic. According to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, there were 157 homicides in 2020, up from 99 in 2019.
“Remember in Georgia we were opened up before the rest of the country, even before the CDC [Centers for Disease Control and Prevention] 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 told Ruhle in response to the MSNBC host pointing out the increase in killings.
The mayor also said “COVID left a lot of people battered and bruised, not just physically but also emotionally.”
“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 said.
Bottoms also said the rising crime rate is not just occurring in Atlanta.
“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 said.
In a post on Twitter, Kemp replied to Bottoms’ claims, saying “the left’s anti-police, soft-on-crime agenda is to blame.”
“According to the mayor, rising crime in our capital city is everyone’s fault but hers. 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.”
According to the mayor, rising crime in our capital city is everyone’s fault but her’s. 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. https://t.co/RcjvW7wQaT
— Governor Brian P. Kemp (@GovKemp) June 19, 2021
But Bottoms said the city is “doing every single thing we can,” urging young people to find jobs this summer. “We’re getting at least 1,000 young people to work this summer. That will help until we deal with systemic issues of the gun violence epidemic in this country – how easily young people, people with mental illness can access guns in this country.”
Last week, the Journal-Constitution took Bottoms to task in an editorial.
“That is not a sustainable place. We must do better,” the paper’s editors wrote. “So Mayor Bottoms your city and region still need you to be visible in this fight. You should be in front of the cameras at crime scenes. Admittedly, of late there are so many violent episodes that it’s likely impossible to visit more than a fraction of them. But you should give it a try; showing up to attest to what the city’s doing – or should be doing – to help stanch the violence.”
“Leading from the front – through visibility, action and results – serve as the best chance of keeping Buckhead as part of Atlanta. Your city still needs you, Mayor Bottoms. Please step back into the spotlight and lead the fight to make Atlanta and, by inference this region, a more-secure and safer place. Your actions just might make Atlanta a better place for us all. And it may help save lives on our streets.”