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Monday, July 27, 2009

Councilman: Carjackers symptomatic of 'out of control' youths

The recent wave of smash-and-grab burglaries, home break-ins and his own carjacking this past Saturday have convinced Atlanta Councilman Ceasar Mitchell that "we're dealing with a crisis of young people" who have turned to lives of crime.

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As you may have heard, Mitchell, 40, had dropped his mother off at home after a concert and had just walked back to his SUV when three young men approached him. He says it was fairly clear they were up to no good, but he couldn't make out what they wanted from him, so he asked for clarification. The guy in front pulled a gun out of his belt and fired it into the air.

"The whole exchange lasted maybe 40 seconds and I probably did 15 seconds too much talking," Mitchell recalls. The gunman told him to step away from the car and the councilman didn't hesitate to comply.

While the gun was never pointed at him, Mitchell says he's thankful to be alive and unhurt — especially considering that, only an hour or so earlier, professional boxer Vernon “The Viper” Forrest had been fatally shot by muggers at a gas station a few miles away. Police have not suggested the two crimes are linked.

Mitchell says he believes the well-publicized police furloughs have encouraged many young men to turn to crime. As an antidote, he'd like to enact a city-wide daytime curfew that would prohibit school-age teens from being out on the streets during school hours.

"We need to say that we're not going to tolerate this behavior any more," he says.

As for Mitchell's ride, a 2003 Ford Expedition, it was found a short distance away a few hours later. The only things found missing were his cell phone and a garage-door opener — for the City Hall parking garage.

"I'd love to have them come down to City Hall and pay us a visit," says Mitchell.

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