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Stacey Abrams joins grieving family, Atlanta mayor, and Sen. Warnock to address mental health, poverty

Two events pointed to parts of Abrams campaign agenda, expanding Medicaid, addressing crime, and creating equal access for communities of color.

ATLANTA — Gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams wrapped up a long day of events, aimed at highlighting issues in the community.

Two events on Wednesday evening pointed to parts of Abrams' campaign agenda, expanding Medicaid, addressing crime, and creating equal access for communities of color.

Starting the day on a somber note, Abrams joined the grieving family of Brianna Grier, a 28-year-old mother of twins who died after falling out of a patrol car.

“She was a great mother but when she had an episode, we didn’t know which was she was gonna go," Brianna's dad Marvin said. "We didn't know if she would hurt herself or us."

Brianna's family called 911 when she was having a mental health crisis on July 15. While the family hoped she could be taken to a hospital by ambulance, they said the only option for help was Hancock County sheriff's deputies. 

”The number one health care provider for people experiencing mental health crisis is law enforcement in the state of Georgia and we need to do something about that," said Ben Crump, the family's attorney.

Grier was handcuffed and not in a seatbelt when she fell out of a patrol car; dying six days later due to blunt force trauma.

The lack of mental health resources in rural counties is a big part of  Abrams' pledge should she become governor. 

“When you call law enforcement to your house, you should only have them there if you’re in danger, not because you are sick. Instead of sending someone who had the ability to grapple with a psychotic episode, law enforcement was sent to their house," Abrams said. "These are solvable problems in the state of Georgia and that’s if we expand Medicaid in the state of Georgia.”

"If there were other options for care," Marvin said. “We’d have never called 911 and she would be living today.”

As Abrams hopes to address mental health and Medicaid expansion, she also wants to address crime and poverty in communities of color. A stop at Atlanta Mayor Andre Dicken’s Midnight Basketball created the perfect opportunity to highlight those issues. 

Midnight Basketball is a program Dicken's started to give teenagers and the community something to do each week. 11Alive found the program did successfully drive down calls for law enforcement during game time.  

On the final night of this season, a shoe drive was held for kids, which Dickens and Abrams both assisted CanIKickIt, the company that sponsored the shoe giveaway.

Right before game time, Sen. Raphael Warnock joined Abrams and Dickens for the remainder of the night. Warnock is up for reelection, and the imagery of the three leaders together sent a clear message of support for one another.

While the level of campaigning is clear, Abrams said regardless if she wins or not, she would still be pushing for families like Grier’s and for equal access in Georgia.

“I intend to show up at the hard times, at the good times, show up where the people are and do my best to meet them where they are and invest in their needs,” she said. 

As for the Grier family, their attorney said the GBI investigation into her death is not yet complete.

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