ATLANTA — Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms Wednesday said that police believe out-of-town visitors are partly to blame for several recent nightclub shootings and the explosion of street racing in Atlanta.
Two people, including Chicago rapper King Von, were shot and killed on Nov. 6 outside the Monaco Hookah Lounge. Another person was killed and a security guard critically injured in a shooting outside Up Lounge in Midtown on Nov. 15.
“We are seeing a number of people traveling from out of state to come to Atlanta to go to nightclubs and bars, because we are open as if we’re not in the midst of a pandemic,” Bottoms said. “When the nightclubs are closed in Chicago, people are coming to Atlanta to party.”
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Bottoms said there is not much her office can do to stop that problem.
“Not a lot that we can do about that locally, obviously because the Governor has made the decision to keep the state open,” Bottoms said.
Bottoms said that many of the people engaged in street racing are also coming into the state from out of town, but she believes a number of changes made to the way Atlanta police handle street racing will start to curb the problem.
Bottoms said that since January, Atlanta police have issued 560 street racing violations.
“Just over this past weekend, APD conducted a total of 190 traffic stops, issued 173 citations, made 14 arrests and impounded seven vehicles,” Bottoms said.
Bottoms said they are also deploying specialty units like SWAT teams, motor and air units, specifically targeting organizers of the events and increasing enforcement and penalties for those caught street racing.
“We believe these changes will help reduce the disruption this is causing on our streets,” Bottoms said.
The city council has also been actively trying to tamp down on street racing, voting 10 - 3 to force racing suspects to go before a judge before being released from jail. That will mean 24 to 48 hours in jail before suspects can make bond.
Councilman Michael Julian Bond was the primary sponsor of the bill.
“Every person who’s been arrested on a traffic offense has studied the laws of the state of Georgia, and they are well-versed on that law,” Bond said. “So this is about holding those persons who’ve been awarded the privilege of having a license greater accountability on our streets, and that’s what our citizens have demanded.”
On Monday, the city council formally called on the state legislature to make it easier for law enforcement to seize racing suspects’ vehicles.
On Wednesday, Atlanta police announced they arrested at least one street racer who threw fireworks at police cars.
Police said officers responded to reports of vehicles and people blocking Northside Drive on Oct. 18. As officers attempted to reach the scene, someone threw fireworks at them.
Investigators were able to identify Adolfo Robledo, 21, a known organizer of illegal street racing events, as the one who threw the fireworks. He was arrested in Ellenwood Tuesday and charged with felony obstruction of officers.
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