Georgia Republican Governor Brian Kemp came out swinging in response to Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms’ assertion that the city’s crime spike resulted from GOP-led coronavirus reopenings.
Mayor Bottoms blamed the city’s crime wave on young people being out of school, lack of gun laws, and Kemp’s decision to make Georgia one of the first states to begin reopening during the pandemic.
“Remember in Georgia, we were opened up before the rest of the country, even before the CDC said that it was safe for us to open, so our night clubs and our bars remained open, so we had people traveling here from across the country and partying in our city,” Bottoms said.
There were 157 recorded homicides n 2020, compared to 99 in 2019. So far, killings are up 60 percent in Atlanta over 2020, despite 2020 being one of the deadliest years in decades.
Bottoms also called state leaders to take up what she refers to as “lax gun laws.”
“Until that happens, I’m so sad to say that this likely will not be the last time I stand here,” the mayor said.
Kemp explained that people are “tired of leaders blaming somebody else for problems they have in their own jurisdiction,” Kemp said. “I know I’m fed up with it.”
As for Bottoms’ assertions about reopening too soon, Kemp noted that many other states also reopened or were open, including Oklahoma, Colorado, Mississippi, Texas, and South Dakota.
“For two months we’ve had a crime suppression unit working, using extra state resources, emergency funding to try to help with the problem because I hear about it every single day,” Kemp said.
When referring to Bottoms’ claims, he reiterated that “We’re not blaming that on anybody else, and we’re just doing something about it, and it’s about time she did as well.”
Gov. Kemp pushed back against Bottoms’ assertion saying the gun laws in place are the same that were in place before the increase in violence.
Kemp responded by tweeting, “According to the mayor, rising crime in our capital city is everyone’s fault but hers. Getting Georgians back to work, back to school, and back to normal didn’t lead to more crime. The left’s anti-police, soft-on-crime agenda is to blame.”
Kemp believes that cooperation between law enforcement agencies, both city, and state, is the only thing that will stop crime.
“The state’s only got so many resources. There’s more Atlanta police than the entire state patrol, and we’ve got to police the whole state, help all the local communities. And we’re doing what we can, but it’s going to be up to locals to do more,” Kemp said.
He stressed Georgia has “a great partnership with the Atlanta Police Department, but they’re having to ride with us because they can’t chase anybody. It’s hard to go after violent criminals when they run away from you, and you can’t chase them.”
Kemp said that he believes there are many reasons crime has increased so dramatically, “but the fact is, there’s one way to stop it, and that’s to go after them and send a message and say, ‘Look, we’re not going to put up with this anymore.’”