Atlanta mayor focused on rerouting teens away from gang activity

Published: May. 11, 2022 at 11:22 PM EDT
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ATLANTA, Ga. (CBS46) - Atlanta Mayor Andre Dickens wore sneakers walking into the C.T. Martin Rec Center on Wednesday night.

On this night, he took a seat on the sideline rooting on the dozens of teens playing basketball in the league he launched.

It’s week five of Dickens’ “Midnight Basketball” league, created to give Atlanta youth an alternative to engaging in crime.

“It’s really giving them another option. This is a choice. And this is a better choice of things to do on a Wednesday night than doing some of the other things people are drawn to,” said Dickens.

This week, Fulton County DA Fani Willis, in a 56-page indictment, said she’s working to prosecute 28 people allegedly associated with the YSL, Young Slime Life, gang.

Willis said gang activity is responsible for 75-80% of all of Fulton County’s violent offenses.

Dickens said to curb gang activity, the city is focused on reactionary efforts, like arrests, but also installing more crime-deterrence opportunities, like basketball, to reroute youth away from violence.

“On the front end of it, it’s events like this midnight basketball, the summer youth program. Things that deter folks from getting involved in gangs and crime to begin with, so, that starts right here with a program like this,” Dickens said.

Mayor Dickens also announced the city is providing 3,000 jobs to teens this summer.

The program is another effort by the city to engage youth in healthy alternatives to crime.

Dickens said teens 14-24 years old can enroll in internships or jobs with the city or local businesses.