Atlanta city council member calls for 7 p.m. curfew for anyone 17 and under

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ATLANTA — An Atlanta city council member is calling for a 7 p.m. curfew for anyone age 17 and under in response to a continuing rash of gun violence throughout the city that most recently resulted in the death of a 12-year-old near Atlantic Station.

Post 3 At-Large Council member Keisha Sean Waites issued the following statement after a 12-year-old youth was killed and five others were wounded in a shooting at Atlantic Station. You can read the statement below.

“Following the recent tragic death of a 12-year-old youth and the wounding of five others after a shooting at Atlantic Station over the holiday weekend and as our city closes in on 150 murders in the past 11 months, this senseless death of 12-year-old Zyion Charles has placed an exclamation point on the citywide cry for help. I believe that much of the violence in our city is a result of unmet needs, including lack of affordable housing, inadequate access to mental health services, and low-paying wages.

“Atlantic Station has taken measures to address the issue of unsupervised youth. Like other shopping locations, Atlantic Station has increased its security presence and tightened its curfew.

“However, this is still troublesome because this is not a new problem. In 2021, Atlanta had 750 shooting incidents, which resulted in 158 murders. In 2020, our city had 157 murders. We are on a trajectory to have more this year. There is no quick fix for this devastation occurring in our city. While this violent behavior is problematic, it is in and of itself a symptom of a more significant problem that involves wealth disparities, access to resources, and social disparities that adversely impact Black residents at a disproportionately higher rate than other races. It is going to take all of us working together if we are going to reduce the number of murders.

“As a stopgap measure to save the lives of family members and our neighbors until we develop a solution, we must move quickly to protect the lives of our most vulnerable populations. For this reason, I have recommended to my colleagues that we institute a mandatory curfew of 7 p.m. for youth aged 17 and under. Given the recent shootings and reports in high-traffic retail spaces, this stopgap measure will save lives.”

In the aftermath of the shooting, Council member Waites plans to introduce legislation calling for the 7 p.m. citywide curfew for all youth aged 17 and under.

The legislation would also require any location that has experienced historical patterns of violence, multiple incidents, or homicides to integrate commercial grade cameras into the Atlanta Police Department’s Video Integration Center, or VIC, which is a high-tech operation that enables 9-1-1 operators to access the cameras. 

Council member Waites will also be reaching out to local shopping centers, malls, and other locations where large groups of youth typically gather without supervision, to partner in enforcing a new curfew.

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