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Atlanta city leaders frustrated over weekend shootings, rising gun violence

Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms, in a statement, said the violence from over the weekend is “unacceptable."

ATLANTA — At least 10 people were shot across Atlanta on Sunday alone, leaving some city leaders frustrated over what they called a rise in gun violence over the past year.

In two separate shootings in southwest Atlanta - one in the Oakland City neighborhood, the other near Georgia State University's stadium - police say six people were injured. Then, at the Gold Room nightclub in Buckhead, another person was shot. At the Blue Flame Lounge in northwest Atlanta, APD said a car stopped and someone fired towards the business, injuring three people.

Atlanta Councilman Antonio Brown said the uptick in gun violence is concerning.

“The reality is, things are getting a lot worse,” Brown told 11Alive.

Councilman Brown said the problem is deeply rooted in many things, like generational poverty, especially in communities where he feels the city hasn’t invested as many resources.

“Unfortunately, because it has gone unaddressed under the leadership that has been in place in this city for a very long time, it’s now causing other communities to be impacted by it that normally wouldn’t have been faced with what has always been happening,” Brown said.

Atlanta Police numbers show so far in 2021, there have been 78 shooting incidents and 85 shooting victims.

It’s a significant increase compared to this time last year, when there were 59 shooting incidents and 71 shooting victims.

Councilman Howard Shook said he’s concerned the amount of gun violence in Atlanta is creeping up to nationally notorious levels.

“It makes me mad,” he said. “I’m not desensitized to it. My neighbors aren’t. We know it’s not normal, but what we can’t figure out is why this seems to go on and on and on,” he said.

Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms, in a statement, said the violence from over the weekend is “unacceptable."

"Atlanta Police are working with the FBI and other federal and state partners to crack down on gangs and guns and our work toward addressing public safety is happening around the clock," the mayor said.

She also attributed the rise in violence to what she called "conflicts amongst acquaintances" and a backlog in the court systems during the pandemic. Bottoms said the city is working to curb the violence through its One Atlanta: One APD Immediate Action Plan, to crack down on clubs and bars illegally operating as restaurants to help curtail violent activity.

"While we work toward addressing the systemic root causes of this behavior, APD will continue its work in finding and holding those responsible who are wreaking havoc in our communities," she said.

Atlanta Police echoed the mayor's frustration in their own statement on the weekend violence. While they said all of the incidents appear to have started for different reasons - and none of them appear related at this time - police said they all have one thing in common: "These senseless acts undermine the feeling of safety our officers work so hard to provide our communities," police said.

Police said they will continue to work to bring down the level of crime, but added that some of the shootings "require individuals to make better choices."

"Picking up a gun to solve disagreements is not just a police issue," they said. "These incidents involve people making poor choices when resolving conflict and it’s practically impossible to police that in real time. We need individuals to make better choices. The number of people who lack conflict management skills, and who opt to take a life, risk going to prison and abandoning their family and their freedom, too often over trivial things, is shocking."

"Police cannot be arbitrators for every argument," they added. "We need people to understand how important it is to settle arguments by walking away or seeking outside help. No argument is worth destroying lives."

Regardless of the reason, police did add that anyone who "resorts to violence in our city, it will not be tolerated and we will find you and ensure justice is served."

Councilman Brown said he’s also working on legislation right now to hopefully address gun violence. His idea is to establish a department of public safety and wellness within the city.

“Part of that legislation calls for a review of the functions in which our police officers are performing – the administrative functions they’re performing as well as the community performing functions,” he said.

In his legislation, which Brown said got unanimous council support, officers wouldn’t be tasked with non-emergency responses.

“There is no reason why we should have police officers performing non-sworn administrative functions when they can be on a beat patrolling our communities, getting to know our neighbors, building relationships, community policing at its finest,” Brown said.