Aug 9, 2022 - News

Atlanta leaders call for nonviolent conflict resolution

police officers standing next to park entry sign with crime tape wrapped around it
Photo: Ben Hendren for the Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Atlanta Police have responded to at least 15 reported shootings so far this month — two of which resulted in the hospitalization of children.

  • A driving factor, say Atlanta Police and city officials, is residents' and out-of-towners' tendencies to pick up a firearm to settle a conflict.

What's happening: The latest high-profile incident took place Sunday night when six people were shot during a softball game in a city park. Two adults died and a six-year-old girl is in critical condition after an argument devolved into gunfire, police say.

  • Around 7pm, police responded to Rosa L. Burney Park in southwest Atlanta's Mechanicsville neighborhood and found two victims, police say. Other people had already been transported by private vehicles to Grady Memorial Hospital.

Four days earlier, police investigated an apparent murder-suicide in the Old Fourth Ward. Though police have not confirmed the two people knew each other, interim police chief Darin Schierbaum took the opportunity to urge people to not pick up a gun in a moment of anger.

  • Atlanta Police say roughly 40% of homicide cases this year stemmed from escalating disputes, per the AJC.

State of play: Since 2021 — the last full year of Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms' administration — city officials and police leaders have tried to reduce the complex factors that contribute to violence. 

  • Bottoms' administration tapped COVID-19 stimulus funding to create the Office of Violence Reduction. 
  • Since taking office, Mayor Andre Dickens has beefed up investment in summer youth programs and supported creating an ordinance that would crack down on so-called "nuisance" bars, nightclubs, shopping malls and other properties where some violent crime occurs.

Atlanta-based nonprofit CHRIS 180 is also leading a program to teach people street-level conflict resolution skills in southwest and west Atlanta.

What they're saying: "As we've said countless times, we're just asking the citizens to find a way to resolve conflict without weapons," deputy chief Charles Hampton Jr. told reporters outside Rosa L. Burney Park.

  • "We're just asking people to step away. We're asking people to let bygones be bygones. This is not a place for gunplay... We're asking everyone to leave the guns at home."
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