ATLANTA — Atlanta City Council member Antonio Brown said he was on hold with 911 for five full minutes after children stole his car Wednesday.
Brown is one of four candidates in the Atlanta mayor’s race this year, in which crime has become a driving issue.
The councilman told Channel 2′s Tom Regan that he was meeting up with people to discuss plans to build affordable housing in the area. Moments after he stepped out of his car, a group of kids jumped in and took it.
“These kids were in my opinion somewhere between 7- and 11-years-old. So you don’t immediately think, ‘Oh, these kids are going to steal my car,’” Brown said.
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Brown said he had no sooner walked a few feet from his unlocked Mercedes to speak with someone when a group of school-aged kids jumped in and hit the push button ignition. He was meeting with Ben Norman of the Dixie Hills Neighborhood Association at the time.
“Ben attempted to open the door, to get [the driver] out of the car. He fought with Ben. I then engaged and tried to get him out of the car,” Brown said.
But the young thieves wouldn’t stop and sped down the street.
“[The driver] started to hit on the gas. Ben let go, and then the kids started to drag me half a block,” Brown said.
“I got some scratches and stuff because they took off in the car and I kind of fell down on the ground for a minute,” Norman said.
“He started to speed up and I knew if I had not let go, I could have killed myself because he was going so fast. I would start to tumble, and I didn’t want to hurt him,” Brown said.
The councilman said it took police 45 minutes to arrive because 911 incorrectly assigned it as low-priority dispatch.
He said the kids who stole his car acted out of hopelessness and desperation.
“This is a generational poverty issue. These kids, it’s 12:30 in the afternoon. Why aren’t they in school? Why aren’t we enforcing systems to ensure that if they are not in school, they’re in recreational centers?” Brown said.
The councilman said he doesn’t intend to file criminal charges against the young people who stole his car, which has not yet been found.
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