Disposable plastic water bottles

Richard Vogel/AP

ATLANTA, Ga. (CBS46) -- As more incidents of violence occur across the city of Atlanta, police are cracking down on youth selling water at busy intersections.

In some instances, pedestrians and motorists have reported hostile encounters with armed teens looking to make a profit. On two separate occasions Atlanta police officers have arrested and charged teens.

On July 16 police say a 14-year-old teen used a concealed weapon to threaten people while selling water in the 3300 block of Peachtree Road. When officers located the teen they discovered a gun in his waistband. The teen was then arrested and charged with possession of a firearm by a minor, pedestrian in the roadway, possession of less than one ounce of marijuana and littering.

Officers contacted the Fulton County Juvenile Intake who informed them they would not be able to accept the teen. As a result he was released to a family member.

A similar incident involving a 15-year-old happened the previous day near Peachtree Road and Piedmont Road.

A man who flagged down officers said he had been assaulted by a group of teens near the intersection. Watching the encounter, three teens attempted to flee the scene; only one was apprehended. 

Officers say the recovered a loaded handgun from a bag that the 15-year-old had in his possession. Although the victim declined to prosecute the teen, he was still charged with possession of a firearm by a minor, pedestrian in the roadway, and bribery after attempting to offer officers $300 to let him go. 

Despite being arrested on several other occasions for armed robbery, breaking into a vehicle and theft of a vehicle, the teen was released to his mother.

"We are aware of the issues related to individuals selling water at intersections in the city and officers are working to address these. There have been two recent arrests related to these groups and we continue our efforts to promote a safe environment in our communities," said the agency in a statement released to CBS46.

While many metro community members have expressed the need for action to prevent teens from selling water at intersections, others have pleaded for arrests to not be the first response.

“As a city we cannot achieve a more progressive vision for criminal justice and safety if we are arresting young Black people for selling water. As a business owner, I know that when the city engages in this aggressive kind of policing we run the risk of stifling the emerging entrepreneurial spirit displayed by these young people and we jeopardize their safety with unnecessary police interactions,” said Atlanta community organizer Devin Barrington-Ward.

Still, dangers exist not only for pedestrians and motorists approached by 'water boys' with hostile intent, but also for the teens looking to make money.

“An altercation and a fight broke out. The young man left, then came back and approached my son and shot him down. All over $10," said Tomeka Pless.

Pless' son, 18-year-old Jalanni, was fatally shot by another teen on June 27 while selling water. "Nobody should have to lose their life over $10, over some water," said the grieving mother while pleading for the killer to come forward.

The unidentified gunman remains at large nearly three weeks later.

Atlanta City Council President Felicia Moore says," Recently, I have received significant feedback from constituents across Atlanta expressing their concern regarding youth selling water throughout the city on street corners, at intersections, and areas such as store parking lots. These requests asking for my consideration compelled me to personally visit a few of these sites to observe what is actually occurring. I was alarmed by what I saw from both the youth and other constituents."

She went on to say that a money-making opportunity has morphed into a dangerous situation for all parties invovled.

"There is often a lack of supervision, the sales are unpermitted, and we are now seeing criminal outcomes. Many committed constituents and community leaders are hard at work developing solutions and I would like to thank them for their diligence," added Moore. "Their efforts will undoubtedly lead to wonderful opportunities for Atlanta's youth."

Moore also revealed to CBS46 that she has made the following recommendations to Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms and the Advisory Council to Focus on Youth Entrepreneurship:

1. To Mayor Bottoms I have recommended strong consideration of an Executive Order issuance immediately banning such sales on Atlanta's street corners, intersections, or similar areas. Hopefully this will allow time for the Advisory Council to issue their report, implement the appropriate programs, and direct youth to them. Enforcement of the Executive Order may also quell dangers incurred by motorists, youth, and other constituents. A strategic plan of enforcement will be needed in support of the youth and law enforcement.

2. The practice of youth selling water or other items on street corners, etc. should not be made acceptable. Instead, I have submitted to Advisory Council Co-Chair, Council Member Marci Collier-Overstreet a recommendation that alternative revenue generating options be developed which keep youth off the street, out of traffic, and safe from predators.

3. I encourage members of the general the public to stop buying water and engaging with this practice for your own immediate safety. Once the youth development and entrepreneurship programs recommended by the Advisory Council are implemented, please support those efforts as you see fit.

"Please keep in mind that these are recommendations derived from my direct observations and based on my opinion as to how we can leverage our current scopes of purview to begin restoring public safety. We have a lengthy journey ahead and it is imperative that we start moving forward now," added Moore.

Copyright 2020 WGCL-TV (Meredith Corporation). All rights reserved.

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(4) comments

guest8281

“arresting young Black people for selling water. ,” said Atlanta community organizer Devin Barrington-Ward.:

you are a LYING POS! You are a major part of the problem. READ what they are arrested for.

guest8281

"arrested and charged with possession of a firearm by a minor, pedestrian in the roadway, possession of less than one ounce of marijuana and littering.":

guest8281

Racism by blacks against whites needs to end. We need more posts of videos showing this. Mayor Bottoms needs to get off her "a" and confront black racism.

MusicBoi74

I admire the spirit of these kids trying to do some sort of work to raise money. What I do not admire is when I stop at my intersection (in a rather rough part of town), and having children of color see me (who passes as white) and yelling "Oh, look, a white guy, let's pretend to get run over so we can sue him!" Yes, I have heard this on MANY occasions. I've also had my windows pounded on, and been flipped the bird for saying, "No thank you." Not cool at all. I usually turn at the light and go around the block to avoid the situation if I see it has just turned red again and I will have to sit there and be harassed.

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