*2020 was the deadliest year in Atlanta in decades, according to an ajc.com report.
“It’s ridiculous that now, even during this pandemic, we got more gun violence going on than ever before,” said Columbus Ward, a longtime activist who lives in Atlanta’s Peoplestown neighborhood.
“It’s really scary because you don’t know who’s going to be killed or who’s going to be shot or where those shots are coming from,” Ward said. “It’s just everywhere.”
The deadly surge has police and city leaders struggling for solutions, according to the report.
“I’ve never been afraid to get gas or go to the grocery store before,” said Buckhead resident Agie Rutkowski. “Now, if it’s dark outside, I don’t go out.”
A SPECIAL REPORT on the spike in Atlanta homicides in 2020 and why Atlanta’s deadliest year in decades has a city on edge and demanding change. This is the top story in the AJC’s Atlanta Homicides 2020 Special Report. https://t.co/2Ou0baJfeW pic.twitter.com/zJQQolfHdN
— AJC (@ajc) January 15, 2021
Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms has been criticized over her response to the 58% rise in homicides.
“Stop minimizing our concerns by telling us that ‘crime is up everywhere.’ Spare us from the lie that the steady outflow of our officers isn’t as bad as it is,” Atlanta City Council member Howard Shook said in a statement last month. “It will take a lot to turn this around. But here, in descending order, are the three things we need to begin: leadership, some leadership, any leadership.”
Former APD investigator Lakea Gaither said Bottoms has “lost the confidence of the officers,” after more than 200 cops quit in 2020 in the aftermath of the police shooting of Rayshard Brooks.
Here more from The Atlanta Journal-Constitution report:
The Albany police department investigated 17 homicide cases that killed 19 people in 2020, up from 13 in 2019. Macon police worked 42 homicide cases leaving 49 dead last year, up from 25 in 2019, according to the Bibb County Sheriff’s Office. Savannah police investigated 32 homicides in 2020, up from 24 in 2019.
Bottoms has acknowledged that her city experienced a violent crime surge in 2020.
Meanwhile, according to AJC: “Chicago recorded 774 homicides in 2020 up from 506 in 2019, according to a database maintained by the Chicago Sun-Times. New York City’s homicide count rose to 462 last year, up nearly 45% from 319 in 2019, The Washington Post reported, citing New York Police Department data,” the outlet writes.
“We are not the Chicago of the South,” Bottoms said. “We are Atlanta and we own our challenges and we own our responsibility to address those challenges. We’re going to continue to address crime in our city but we’re also going to continue to address those systemic issues that lead to crime in communities.”
Read the full AJC report here.