ATLANTA, Ga. (CBS46) -- Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms on Tuesday addressed a weekend filled with gun violence that left 4 people dead, including a 15-year old. Bottoms summed it up this way before she talked about steps already underway to stem the rise in violent crime: “The reality is this … there are too many guns on our streets and too many people in our communities who don’t have regard for basic human life."
Since last Thursday, 22 people were shot in 12 separate incidents across the city, including the death of 15-year old Diamond Johnson who the mayor described as an innocent bystander when someone opened fire not far from Grant Park.
The mayor also announced that she will officially name Interim Chief Rodney Bryant as permanent chief, and forward that recommendation to Atlanta City Council for confirmation. The violent weekend comes despite the fact that the Atlanta Police Department has removed 750 guns and arrested 2,000 offenders in recent months.
“I wish I could wave a magic wand or make a speech to make it stop, but until we address the number of guns on our streets, until our state leaders take a look at the some of the most lax gun laws in our state, until that happens … I am sorry to say this likely not the last time I will stand here," the mayor commented when asked what needs to be done. Bottoms also announced that she is forming a small working group of community leaders and stakeholders to also develop recommendations that might help the city as they work toward ending the crime wave. An uptick in crime that Bottoms said is not a City of Atlanta issue, but happening all across the country.
Among the multi-tiered approach to dealing with this issue are: partnerships with federal, state and other metro law enforcement agencies, working proactively with the Fulton County District Attorney’s Office, going after street racing and adding 10,000 new street lights around the city. But that’s not all. Both the mayor and Bryant talked about dealing with systemic challenges including expanding job training for young people and re-branding policing.
"These issues must be addressed in Atlanta and across the nation and until they are dealt with….this will continue,” the mayor added.
Chief Bryant offered condolences to Johnson's family and promised to work to bring the offenders to justice.
"Anytime someone loses a family member to violence it is a sad thing, but to lose a child to violence is significantly traumatic. APD will work diligently to bring closure to this case," he said. “Yes, we have a long way to go, but we have strategies in place to fix crime. Public safety is not just a police problem, it is a community problem.”
During the press conference, Mayor Bottoms made a heartfelt appeal to those who claim she is not doing enough to stop the crime wave. Statistics show shootings in the city are up 51 percent from last year, homicides have increased by 60 percent and arrests are down.
"Many people have come and said what about your arrest numbers? I want you to understand that we are not in the business of going out and arresting anybody and everybody for the simplest things. That’s not what we do in the city of Atlanta. However, we do recognize that we do need to pay attention to repeat offenders," said Chief Bryant.
"We’re going to do more today beginning with announcing a working group that will be represented from people across this city. It will be a small working group and I’m going to ask this group to give me recommendations in the next 30-45 days short term recommendations on what more we can possibly do," said Mayor Bottoms. "Until our state leaders take a look at the most laxed gun laws that we have in this country and the way that guns get into the hands of criminals until that happens I so sad to say this will likely not be the last time I stand here," Bottoms added.