Atlanta

Atlanta police and community activists say social media and youth violence are related

ATLANTA — Local leaders and law enforcement are saying that social media and youth violence are related.

“Young black men are endangered species here in Atlanta,” said Bruce Griggs with Save Our Sons.

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Griggs said it’s a tough thing to hear, but it’s the truth. He knows firsthand. He’s a former juvenile probation officer and recently started an organization called Save Our Sons. That’s where he mentors young men who are heading down the wrong path.

“These kids are dying tremendously,” said Griggs.

Griggs said we saw that over the weekend, when 12-year-old Zyion Charles was shot and killed near Atlantic Station near the 17th Street bridge. Police said that shooting was gang-related.

Then on Sunday, three teens were shot during a prayer vigil, in DeKalb County. Griggs said a lot of crime — especially with young teens — starts off with disputes among groups on social media.

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Things start off as a simple problem but escalate to fights and gun violence.

“Social media is the vehicle that’s going to destroy us. Social media is the devil,” said Griggs.

On Monday, Atlanta police Capt. Ralph Woolfolk spoke with Channel 2 Action News about what the department is seeing.

“Social media has definitely played an element in some of the conflicts that we’ve seen in our communities,” said Woolfolk, who leads the Atlanta Police Special Enforcement Section.

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That’s why Griggs said he tries to show young men there are other solutions to handle problems.

“We got to get to these kids before they stop smiling for their school pictures. We’re waiting too late. We’re waiting until they’re 14, 15, 16, to start trying to intervene and change their behaviors. We have to start earlier, as soon as they’re born,” Griggs said.

Griggs said people have to stop blaming the mayor’s office and the police for youth crimes.

He said crime prevention strategies have to begin within homes.

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