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Atlanta activist camped on roof comes down after $25K pledge from ‘SNL’ star

Published: May. 16, 2022 at 6:24 PM EDT|Updated: May. 18, 2022 at 7:09 PM EDT
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ATLANTA, Ga. (CBS46) - A rooftop protest against teen violence is now over thanks to a generous donation by a celebrity with ties to Atlanta.

After two days and three nights in the Georgia heat, former juvenile probation officer turned crime prevention advocate, Bruce Griggs, was lowered down from the roof of a bail bonds business along Atlanta’s Memorial Drive Wednesday afternoon.

“It’s gotten too out of control,” he said. “It’s gotten to a place where we don’t even understand it. So, in order to get everyone’s attention, I had to do something they wouldn’t understand.”

He braved the elements to draw attention to an uptick in shootings in the city and other teen violence. The founder of Operation Correct Start, Inc., also used this rooftop protest to raise money for what he called underfunded nonprofits that help Atlanta youths stay out of trouble.

“These organizations, because of COVID two years ago, all of us were out of money at a time that our kids needed us most,” Griggs said. “So, we really need your help.

Griggs’ grassroots mission to keep teens alive and out of jail also attracted the attention of celebrities with hometown roots in Atlanta like Kenan Thompson. Briggs said the SNL star pledged $25,000 toward his efforts.

ORIGINAL STORY

ATLANTA, Ga. (CBS46) - A community activist who is working to curb teen violence has taken his message to the rooftop, attracting the attention of celebrities who now want to help.

In the shadows of the Atlanta Detention Center, settled on the roof of a bail bonds business on Memorial Drive, is Bruce Griggs, a former juvenile probation officer turned crime prevention advocate.

“We’ve got a problem in Atlanta,” Griggs said. “It’s an epidemic, the disease of violence, and until we address it as an epidemic, we will continue to have this problem.”

Griggs spent the night and all-day Monday on the roof in hopes of raising awareness and funds for his latest campaign, “Saving Our Sons.”

“Our mission is to keep young people alive and free,” Griggs explained.

The campaign will help fund a six-week summer camp, hosted by Griggs’ nonprofit, Operation Correct Start, Inc., which he founded in 1995. Griggs called the program a rite of passage for Black boys 8-14. They focus on issues from spirituality to education and careers to anger management.

“We don’t need to depend on the law enforcement. They got their job to do,” Griggs said. “Quit blaming them. Quit blaming the schools. They’re doing their job. Quit blaming them. It’s on us.”

Bobby Huntley went through the program when he was 12. Now a film director, Huntley credits Operation Correct Start for setting him on the right path.

“I was surrounded by family, by love,” Huntley said. “I had this automatic tribe of brothers. You know, I had the family unit that I haven’t felt in a very, very long time. And it was one of the best summers of my life.”

“He’s affected a lot of change in the actual lives that he has been able to assist,” actor Kenan Thompson told CBS46 on Monday.

Thompson, who grew up in Atlanta, didn’t participate in Griggs’ program, but he said Griggs has always been on the side of rehabilitation. The Saturday Night Live star said he wanted to use his platform to try and amplify Griggs’ efforts.

“I just want to make sure that we have enough support, you know, in a bunch of different ways to really make a difference,” Thompson said. “Atlanta is not the only case. You know, I feel like this is going on in a lot of different cities. And there’s a lot of different issues.”

Griggs held a virtual telethon with Thompson and other celebrities on Monday. He remained on the roof as of the publishing of this article. He said he would stay on the roof until his fundraising goal is met.

“My mom used to tell me all the time, and now it’s come into play, ‘the more you know, the more you owe,’” Griggs said.

To learn more about Operation Correct Start or to donate to the group’s latest campaign, click here.