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Anti-Violence Activists See Broken Promises as 'Cop City' Advances

In December 2021, Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms announced formation of the city’s first Office of Violence Reduction. The office was to coordinate efforts between community-led violence intervention programs and disperse $5 million in grants to organizations approaching gun violence as a public health problem, The Trace reports. Community activists in Atlanta questioned whether the office would have the same financial and social support as another proposed initiative: the city’s $30 million investment in 'Cop City,' an 85-acre police training facility, which many said solidified its commitment to a law enforcement-centric approach to public safety. Two years on, any hope among those activists that Atlanta was ready to invest in community-based solutions has all but disappeared. The Office of Violence Reduction has been left without a director for months and has failed to launch its first initiative, a city-led community violence prevention program. Meanwhile, the city has nearly doubled its pledge to Cop City, rising to $67 million.

Like many U.S. cities, Atlanta experienced a significant spike in shootings during the pandemic. Mayor Bottoms responded to the influx in violence with a litany of policy and funding proposals by establishing an anti-violence advisory council charged with implementing “immediate and long-term actions to address the current wave of violent crime.” The council proposed the Office of Violence Reduction, whose goals were centered around more community-oriented solutions to violence prevention, including coordinating “non-enforcement violence reduction efforts across the city.” However, the Office of Violence Reduction had failed to meet many of the initiatives it had laid out, especially concerning violence prevention programs. The office didn’t launch its proposed city-led violence interruption program that was initially planned for 2022, and the $5 million that was allocated for community violence solutions has not been spent in full; about $2 million remains. The office’s first director, Jacquel Clemons Moore, stepped down after only 11 months. Some city residents were not surprised that the Office of Violence Reduction’s efforts have stalled because the city’s leadership focuses on policing instead of programs aimed at reducing violence.


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