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MLK Jr. Drive businesses say crime is scaring away customers

Business owners say a police presence is needed to curb the crime and help stimulate the economy.

ATLANTA — Several businesses along Martin Luther King Jr. Drive are banning together to pay for security following multiple shootings last month. 

"At the end of the day, this is the corridor of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., one of the most famous men in the history of this city, so we want to make sure we protect that," Next Step Staffing owner Ricky Brown said. 

In August, Atlanta Police shot and killed a man who allegedly opened fire on another. This followed a shooting at a KFC in the area where an employee was hit in the crossfire of what the department called a "gunfight." 

“We just want to make sure our customers are safe," said the Owner of Healing Garden, Chef Tijani.

And many owners along the street say they've had a more challenging time getting people to dine in the area. They're now banding together and demanding change.

The MLK Ashby Business Association is pushing a public safety plan to bring off-duty officers to patrol the area. Their first problem is how much it would cost, over $350,000. So the association is asking nearby corporations like Chick-fil-A and Walmart to help.

"I’m hoping, and I’m praying that these people will all step up to do what is needed," the MLK/Ashby Merchants Association President Johnny Mims said. 

Some small business owners said they could not afford the plan on their own but agreed it's needed to improve conditions.

“Increasing security through the corridor will make it safer and create more opportunity for the businesses," Bailey’s Coffee owner John Bailey said.

Mims said the business association is planning a march in the near future to raise awareness about its safety plan. 

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