ATLANTA — As the pandemic summer wound down and rolled into fall, the continuing sound of screeching tires and cars laying drag on Atlanta streets and parking lots became a huge problem for the city.
“Right now we are in the middle of a pandemic, and people are still looking for entertainment,” said Devin Barrington-Ward of the Black Futurists Group.
It became such a nightly problem that Atlanta Police made it a priority to stop. Police said just in the past week, they’ve made 312 street racing traffic stops.
Atlanta Police said the rise in racing and stunt driving incidents is not only a nuisance, but has also led to deadly crashes.
City Councilman Michael Julian Bond has introduced legislation which will require anyone arrested for street racing to face a judge before they can be released from jail.
Right now, officers can arrest people, but those arrested are able to post bond with their signature because Atlanta’s Municipal Court is currently closed.
Channel 2′s Matt Johnson spoke with Bond about the proposed legislation. Bond said getting the alleged street racers in front of judges helps them find people who may be a threat to the public.
“Having the judge review the cases, separates a mild offender from someone who may be a habitual racer that’s causing you know, a lot of mayhem in the city,” he said.
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Neighbors across the city have been pushing for solutions for months.
“My kids get woken up in the middle of the night, and that’s not good," said Atlanta resident Andrew Harding.
On Thursday night, a group of activists and community members gathered to have their voices heard too. Both are trying to push back against what they believe are the negative effects of a police crackdown.
“Figure out a solution that does not involve more police, more courts and more jail,” Ward said.
Johnson also spoke with some northwest Atlanta car enthusiasts who said the push to curb street racing is unfair.
“We’re targeted just like we would run down the street at 150 miles an hour,” said one car enthusiast.
“The police is always the knee jerk response, because typically, these activities involve black and brown people,” Ward added.
“This really doesn’t have anything to do with race at all, but has everything to do with the public safety,” said Bond.
One solution from those impacted by the noise: Use more advanced license plate readers and cameras and fewer trips to jail.
“And we’re not even using modern technology to try to do it,” said Harding.