ATLANTA — As Atlanta police continue to investigate the shooting death of a 12-year-old boy near Atlantic Station, retired detectives and activists are offering their condolences while discussing possible solutions to what has become a growing problem.
“It’s sad that we have to continue to have these stories over and over again in Atlanta,” said Julius Thomas, who currently serves as the CEO of The People’s Uprising, an Atlanta-based social justice nonprofit. “Some of these communities are really crying out for just something to do, the essential needs that they need.”
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Thomas says he and his nonprofit group have been forming public and private partnerships that will be providing jobs and resources to communities of color that have been historically underserved and hit hardest by the pandemic.
Thomas told Channel 2 that he believes it will take a group effort to help curb the gun violence.
“We cannot just blame the police. We can’t just blame the school systems or the government, but also we have to look in the mirror,” he added. “Now that we are out of COVID, hopefully we can get more support to have more programs for our youth here.”
Thomas added that when COVID hit, many community centers closed, leaving children unsupervised because their parents were working essential jobs while trying to provide for their families.
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Channel 2 also spoke with two retired Atlanta police detectives who also believe that providing additional resources to underserved communities will also help play a role in stopping the violence.
“When it comes to young people, when they see better, they do better and they want better,” said Tyrone Dennis, a retired Atlanta Police Department gang detective who served the city for nearly two decades before retiring in 2021. “I think a lot of kids don’t want to carry guns. They don’t want to be a part of that type of environment, but they have to because they also don’t want to become victims. We have to give them a space and an opportunity to do something different.”
Orrick Curry, a retired Atlanta police detective, told Channel 2 that he believes social media and pop culture have helped fuel the increase in gang violence among teens. He says while it’s important to provide opportunities and activities for children, it’s just as important for their parents to be held accountable.
“I think that’s the biggest problem that we’re facing right now,” said Curry. “Parents want the police to police the kids, and there should be somewhere in between where the parents are policing up their kids, knowing where they are at all times.”
“You got a lot of talented kids out there in this community,” he added. “They just need some love and guidance.”
Dennis is also the creator and founder of Clippers & Cops, an Atlanta-based nonprofit organization that travels the country, working hard to bridge the gap between police and communities they serve. Since its inception in 2018, Clippers & Cops has been helping kids stay out of trouble by providing training and conversation.
“The number one thing they say is, we appreciate that you don’t talk at us, you talk to us,’” said Dennis. “When it comes to impacting them, you have to be real with these kids and give them hope and confidence.”
If you would like to learn more about the work being done by Clippers & Cops, you can learn more here.
If you would like to learn more about the work being done by The People’s Uprising, you can learn more here.
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