Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms appeared to be on the defensive following the killing of a 7-year-old girl who was shot a week earlier by a stray bullet, a death that pushed the city’s homicide total to its highest levels in 22 years.
“If there are solutions that we have not explored and enacted, I welcome the suggestions, as I am always open to making the city that I am raising my children in a safer place for us all,” Bottoms wrote in a statement to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution in response to rising criticism.
Bottoms’ comments come a week after Kennedy Maxie was shot while riding in a car with her family out for some last-minute Christmas shopping. She died Saturday night from her wounds, Atlanta’s CBS affiliate WSB-TV reported.
Kennedy Maxie’s death was the 155th killing this year, the most since 1998, the Journal-Constitution said. That is also a 56% increase from the 99 homicides in 2019.
Criticism of Bottoms has been most severe from Councilman Howard Shook, representative of the district where Maxie was shot. Shook issued a statement a day following her shooting saying – without mentioning the mayor by name – the city needed “leadership; some leadership; any leadership.”
“To the administration, I don’t want to hear the word ‘uptick,'” Shook wrote. “Stop minimizing our concerns by telling us that ‘crime is up everywhere.’ Spare us from the lie that the steady outflow of our officers isn’t as bad as it is. And please, not another throw-away press conference utterly devoid of game-changing action steps.”
The death of Kennedy Maxie comes at the end of a year that saw rioting over what critics considered “systemic racism,” calls for defunding police, and random violence that killed an 8-year-old girl in July.
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