Police Defund Leads to Crime Wave
Atlanta city councilman Antonio Brown witnessed the theft of his car in the middle of the day last Wednesday. The thieves were described as very young boys who had simply piled into his white Mercedes and drove away while Brown took part in a ribbon-cutting ceremony outside a Dunkin Donuts.
Antonia recently joined the city’s race for mayor and was quoted in an interview with the Atlanta Journal-Constitution about how shocked he was at the attack saying “you don’t immediately think, ‘Oh, these kids are going to steal my car” when you get into a situation like that.
Brown perhaps, should not have been as surprised as he was because of the recent crime wave that has flooded the city of Atlanta during the last year. During a press conference in early May, the city’s current mayor, Keisha Lance Bottoms, addressed what she refers to as the “COVID crime wave.” The surge in crimes includes a 58% increase in violent crimes since last year and the trend is continuing into 2021, with homicides up 57%, rape up 55%, aggravated assault up 36%, and, as Antonio Brown experienced, auto theft increasing by 31%.
The ironic part of all of this is that mayoral hopeful, Brown, voted last year to cut the Atlanta Police Department’s budget by $73 million. The vote to defund was sparked by demonstrations throughout the city in response to citizens’ anger over the many killings of African Americans in the nation. Brown’s campaign, which began just under three weeks ago, is based on “reimagining public safety,” restructuring the agencies that administer public safety and focusing on the overall “wellness” of the city through a new city department he would develop.
For now, though, he will be relying on the very officers whose jobs he voted to take away just last year.
According to Brown, the children hopped into his car shortly after he exited the vehicle to speak with Ben Norman, another one of Atlanta’s community leaders. Brown’s Mercedes uses push to start, so the children – who Brown described as ranging in age from 6 to 12 years old, one of whom “acted as though he had a gun” – were able to drive away in it without needing his keys, and he hadn’t even noticed it had been started.
Brown’s report also included the details of a physical incident between himself, Norman, and the children. Brown and Norman each at separate times attempted to pull the driver out of his seat but were unsuccessful. Brown also claims to have held onto the car and to have been dragged for a block before letting go because he “knew that if I had not let go…[he] probably could have killed myself…[or] hurt” the young driver said the councilman.
Maintaining his stance of public reform, Brown says he does not plan to press charges. Instead, he seems more concerned about the well-being of the children, who he believes only stole his vehicle out of desperation.
He announced that he feels “this is a generational poverty issue. These kids, it’s 12:30 in the afternoon. Why aren’t they in school?” Brown quipped, hinting at what his platform might look at for his mayoral campaign. “Why aren’t we enforcing systems to ensure that if they are not in school, they’re in recreational centers?” He has big dreams to reform the system from the inside.
Police are investigating Brown’s claims, but they are also investigating Brown himself, as he is facing several federal fraud charges. Before winning his city council seat in 2019, allegations came against Antonio Brown for lying about his income. He did so on loan applications, as well as credit cards he used for personal spending. The status of which investigation is prioritized, and the results of each remain to be seen but it is obvious big things are coming for the city of Atlanta.