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Residents begging for help after decades of broken promises

Neighbors are saying "enough is enough."
Residents in the Vine City/English Avenue area are calling for change.

ATLANTA -- When the city of Atlanta wants to do something, it can.

The new Falcons stadium went from a rumor to a construction site in just a few years. But just down the street in Vine City and English Avenue, it's been decades of broken promises.

"We need the resources that City Hall has," said Yvonne Jones, Chairwoman of NPU-L. "Everything that they have needs to come over here and help us in our community."

Abandoned homes continue to sit like a macabre bedroom community of blight, in a place where criminals rule and violence is a litany.


"The man that was stabbed in the neck; the man across from my house shot in the back in his own house; that 14-year-old shot in the head," recalled resident Rosario Hernandez. "This is just a matter of weeks."

Neighbors are saying "enough is enough." Just like the neighbors did 10 years ago. And 10 years before that. And 10 years before that.

"If the chief of police and everyone knows that, then I think we should get together and we should push more harder," said Rev.Darrion Fletcher, who was part of the group of residents who gathered along Vine Street on Wednesday to call attention to the problems in the area.

One of the areas they toured was a stretch of Meldrum Street. It was blocked off to traffic several years ago. Now it's a place where people dump trash. And a body was found.

Residents say the overgrown areas allow predators to hunt in secret, especially those victims who might be less likely to report a crime.

"Her face was scratched up, messed up real bad," said Quajale Farley of a nude woman she saw recently stagger out of an overgrown patch. "Like (the suspect) had beat her face to ground or something."

There are signs of the neighborhood's resilience. Like the urban garden built on what was once an abandoned lot. The neighbors did that. Not the city. Not the business community. Not anyone bearing promises they can't keep.

Especially about all the new jobs that were supposed to be headed this way.

"I've been trying to identify people from this community that have been given an opportunity for a job," said longtime community activist Joe Beasley. "It's just not there. There's been a big lie told to this community about some change."

Atlanta police were unable to provide an on-camera interview late in the day Wednesday, but issued the following statement:

The Atlanta Police Department wholeheartedly shares the concerns of the residents and business owners in the Vine City and English Avenue neighborhoods. For many years the Department has worked tirelessly in this area of the City of Atlanta and dedicated an enormous amount of resources in effort to control crime and improve the quality of life of the people in the community.

The issues surrounding this neighborhood are complex and involve multiple facets of social challenges. The Atlanta Police Department will continue to work with our partners in the community, our Code Enforcement Section, Zone One, as well as other local, state, and federal agencies in an effort to turn the tide on the current crime trends.

We expect over time that we will prevail over the crime and the citizens of these neighborhoods will enjoy a better quality of life.