Sweet Auburn business owners calling for changes to reduce violence in neighborhood

Sweet Auburn area business owners want change following deadly shootings

Business owners in the Sweet Auburn area are calling for new measures to be put into place to help reduce violence in the neighborhood.

Over the Fourth of July weekend, Atlanta police responded to several shootings in the community, including one on Auburn Avenue and Edgewood.

Police said 14 people were shot and two people later died. Video of the shooting quickly made its way around social media.

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“There’s people getting killed. And when we’re losing lives in our community, we have to come together and address that concern,” Jerome Edmundson said.

On Monday, Channel 2′s Audrey Washington met with Edmundson and other business owners and neighbors in the Sweet Auburn area.

They want safety changes put in place immediately starting with a crackdown on the car clubs that flood the community at night.

“They’re drawing massive crowds and those crowds get out of control. Then you have the 14 shootings that we had this weekend,” Edmundson said.

“It’s total lawlessness in this area and we don’t know what to do.”

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Ryan Buchanan is the general manager at Noni’s on Edgewood. He said the car clubs come into the community and create congestion points.

“We want a pedestrian zone that’s free of cars,” Buchanan said. “When you have cars coming though, that brings cruising, people selling stuff out the trucks of their cars and crowds forming that are stagnate and that leads to fights and gunshots.”

Channel 2′s Matt Johnson spoke with Grant Henry, who owns Church Bar on Edgewood Avenue. Henry says he loves the vibrant and diverse community and it broke his heart to hear about the recent deaths.

“There needs to be some emergency action,” he said.

Henry told Johnson fellow business owners have been pleading with the city for six years to make the area a pedestrian only zone.

“Let the people be on the street. Let it be open to bicycles and people, instead of zooming cars that are breaking the law,” he said.

Atlanta police announced last Thursday they would be addressing the issues in Sweet Auburn specifically. But business owners said there needs to be a new plan.

“Were begging the city and the mayor and the chief to help us. We wont survive with what’s going,” Edmundson said.

At Church Bar, Henry said the violence has reached a point where he says he needs to speak up and keep his beloved business shut down.

“We aren’t going to open on Edgewood Avenue until you’re safe,” he said.

A city spokesperson told Johnson that making the area pedestrian only would require legislation from the city council.

Business owners said they are in close contact with several councilmembers and plan to meet with city leaders to get a plan in place as soon as possible.