The mayor is ratcheting up his recent criticism of the Fulton courts, which he says are responsible for freeing repeat felons, some of whom were already on probation at the time they were arrested. He says the court has contributed to what he calls a "turnstile" situation that allows those offenders back on Atlanta's streets rather than locking 'em up in the county jail.
"What you're going to see is that every time that a violent crime occurs in the city and it's someone that Fulton County released, we're going to start publicizing it," Reed told CL yesterday. "We're going to show that we arrested this person before, and that they went to Fulton County, and Fulton County released them back into your neighborhood so there's shared accountability."
Reed raised eyebrows in a May 7 interview with WABE's Denis O'Hayer when he said the county "doesn't do anything," including making sure that repeat offenders go to jail. Several brazen crimes in southeast Atlanta have spurred community pleas for additional policing and improving public safety. Reed is now emphasizing the role the courts and county jail play in keeping the city safe and he's pointing to Atlanta Police Department data to back up his claims.
Family members, friends, civic and business leaders, and elected officials placed votive candles in paper bags decorated with messages to the 33-year-old video game programmer and the community. Some attendees donned yellow, a nod to the color of the game piece that Cotrona often picked when he played board games.
According to an APD spokeswoman, witnesses and victims described the suspect as a young African-American male between the age of 16 and 18, 5'8 to 5'10 in height, with a thin build, medium-brown complexion and little to no facial hair.
"The suspect was wearing a dark-colored hat with a red POLO emblem on it, a red-and-blue vertical stripped/checkered short sleeve button up shirt with a collar, khaki shorts and white high top shoes," an APD spokeswoman says.
Police also released video of a possible robbery suspect fleeing the scene and jumping into a four-door dark charcoal Grey Dodge Stratus or Intrepid with a sun roof.
Got any tips? Call Crime Stoppers at 404-577-TIPS (8477).
Southeast Atlanta residents were rattled by the recent shootings, including the Saturday killing of Patrick Cotrona, a video game engineer and East Atlanta resident who was shot by an armed robber while walking to a nearby pub. The crime followed another nearby shooting just one week before.
"My administration's top priority is public safety," said Mayor Kasim Reed, who also expressed his condolences to Cotrona's friends and families. "It troubles me deeply to hear of violent crime against people in our city's neighborhoods."
In response, the mayor says, Atlanta Police will increase their presence throughout East Atlanta by increasing foot patrols, mounted patrols, and conduct safety checkpoints with DeKalb County and Fulton County Police. Atlanta Police Chief George Turner added that his officers will continue to "work aggressively" in their ongoing investigations.
"The additional resources we are deploying are part of our efforts to reduce violent crime in East Atlanta and throughout the city," said Turner. "We stand with the families of those whose lives have been needlessly cut short, and will work with the community to solve these crimes."
A vigil has been planned this Friday night to rally against crime and remember Patrick Cotrona, the East Atlanta Village resident who was shot and killed late Saturday night during an armed robbery just blocks away from the bustling nightlife strip.
Cotrona, who suffered a gunshot wound to his abdomen and later died at the hospital, was one of two men shot that night. The suspect reportedly hopped into a waiting car and sped away. From the event's Facebook page:
As many of you already know, East Atlanta Village suffered the loss of a resident due to a violent armed robbery. We have also seen a recent uptick in crime. We plan to meet and have a vigil in memory of the lives lost due to violent crime in our neighborhood but also to rally against crime.
We ask that you all make an effort to come out and support the family and friends of Patrick Cotrona in a showing of solidarity from East Atlanta Village. More information will be provided as it is available.
The vigil, which will take place at 567 Flat Shoals Avenue, starts at 5:30 p.m. Be sure to check the Facebook page for updates.
The killing has rattled southeast Atlanta neighborhoods, especially East Atlanta, which was already concerned about public safety following the fatal shooting of a 27-year-old man on Metropolitan Avenue the previous weekend. Neighbors in nearby Grant Park have also expressed concern over the May 17 shooting of a man walking to his car after an Atlanta Braves game. More on that crime later.
In a statement, East Atlanta Community Association officials have called on Mayor Kasim Reed and the Atlanta City Council to provide funding to increase the number of police officers. They also said APD has agreed to step up police presence in East Atlanta. The East Atlanta Security Patrol, the neighborhood's privately funded force, will permanently add a Friday and Saturday night shift and seek additional donations from residents and businesses.
Inside his Marietta law office, Barnes spoke on Brooks' behalf and said the state lawmaker, who was indicted by a federal grand jury last week on 30 counts of committing mail, wire, and tax fraud and filing false tax returns, "did not break any laws." He also questioned U.S. Attorney Sally Yates' "discretion" to make this a criminal case instead of a civil tax matter.
"It's simply not a crime," said Barnes, who's representing Brooks pro bono. "You have to have a specific intent to defraud. There's just no specific intent [here]. If he wanted to defraud somebody, he would've created a $200,000 to $300,000 salary and paid expenses on top of that. This is just crazy."
Brooks, who pleaded not guilty on Wednesday and was released on a $25,000 unsecured bond, declined to comment at the press conference. He was flanked by supporters and held his four-year-old grandson, Mateo Mitchell, in his arms as Barnes addressed the media.
Last week, a federal grand jury charged Brooks with misappropriating more than $1 million from two charitable organizations, Universal Humanities Inc. and the Georgia Association of Black Elected Officials. The longtime state lawmaker allegedly solicited donations from companies and individuals and later used those funds to pay for personal expenses such as home repairs, health insurance, and electronic equipment.
When the charges were first announced, he hinted that the government was pressuring him because of his tireless efforts to raise awareness the 1946 Moore's Ford Bridge killings. Brooks said that he and others were "getting close to proving federal involvement in the lynching massacre."
Barnes said Brooks never took a salary from either group and claimed he only used the money to pay for related expenses. He also noted that the money Brooks allegedly stole amounted to somewhere between $40,000 and $50,000 per year. If the lawmaker had simply set up a salary from the beginning, Barnes said, there would be no issue.
"There is a difference between bad bookkeeping and trying to lock someone up for 10 to 20 years," Barnes said.
Gov. Nathan Deal is expected to create a three-person panel in the next few weeks to review the case. Brooks could be suspended from the Georgia General Assembly pending the group's findings.
Atlanta City Council President Ceasar Mitchell thinks that the perception of crime is "worse than ever," in part thanks to recent iPhone thefts and other petty crimes. He plans to explore that discussion with Atlantans during a "Twitter Chat," which will take place tonight at 5 p.m.
"Monday's Twitter Chat is an invitation from me for anyone on Twitter to participate in an open exchange about how we can all work together to reduce crimes that rob us of our basic quality of life," Mitchell said in a Facebook post.
Atlantic Cities writes about the Pew study - which addresses the national decline in gun homicides and violent crime over the last 20 years - in a piece titled, "Why Do So Many People Think Gun Violence is Getting Worse?"
Based on Pew's research, national firearm homicides declined by 49 percent between 1993 and 2000. Non-fatal gun crimes also dropped dramatically during the same time. Yet, only 12 percent of the national population surveyed by Pew believes crime involving guns decreased over the last two decades. Fifty-six percent of those questioned think it's increased.
So why the huge discrepancy between the real crime numbers and the perception of crime cited in the report? It has to be the uptick in high-profile mass-shootings, Atlantic Cities writer Emily Badger surmises. But before she gets to that point, she makes an interesting assumption in posing the question, which may not ring true locally:
Atlanta Police have arrested two additional suspects in connection with last summer's shooting death of David McReynolds in Grant Park.
Quinterious Hogans, 20, and Dedrick Hale, 18, are charged with murder, aggravated assault, and criminal attempt to commit armed robbery, among other crimes, according to an APD statement.
McReyonlds, 54, was reportedly gunned down in front of a vacant house at 799 Hill St. while walking home from a local grocery store he frequented to play the lottery. The day he was killed he allegedly "hit the numbers real big," according to Angela Sheats who lived with the victim, and collected his winnings at the store.
In October 2012, then 22-year-old Andre Byrd was arrested for murder and nine other counts stemming from the incident.
The Grant Park Neighborhood Association, or GPNA, has been an outspoken advocate in the months since the shooting, raising more than $3,000 to fund a series of billboards and offer additional reward money for information about the case.
Last summer, neighbors expressed their disappointment in media coverage about the shooting on the GPNA Facebook page.
"When bartender John Henderson was murdered in 2009, the entire city was outraged. Before the trial that convicted John Henderson's killer, dozens of gang members were arrested by a joint FBI and GBI task force.
It's not likely that Sheila and Arthur Wallace [who lived with McReynolds] can afford to put up billboards in memory of David McReynolds. Publicity related to his death was scant at best; the news reports are already fading."
All three suspects are currently being held in the Fulton County Jail without bond.
Christopher Cain and Dorian Moragne admitted in court that they violated the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd, Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act, a federal law that forbids violent crimes based on a person's sexual orientation. In February 2012, the two Jack City gang members, along with two other accomplices, punched and kicked then-20-year-old Brandon White as they yelled gay slurs.
Because of the epithets, the case landed in federal court. U.S. Attorney Sally Yates first became involved in the case because Georgia doesn't have its own hate crimes law. Groups including the Anti-Defamation League have pushed the state to pass a similar law.
Last July, a Fulton County judge sentenced the two gang members, along with Dareal Damare Williams, to five years behind bars. As part of the federal plea agreement, prosecutors have suggested that Cain and Moragne's state and federal sentences run concurrently. Both could be sentenced to a maximum of 10 years in prison and ordered to pay a $250,000 fine, plus three years of supervised release.
This case marks the first time in Georgia that a conviction has been obtained under the hate crimes act, which makes it illegal to act violently when perceived race, color, national origin, religion, sexual orientation, disability, gender, or gender identity becomes a motivating factor in a crime.
"Using violence against another person because of his or her sexual orientation has no place in our civilized society," Yates said in a statement. "The Department of Justice is committed to aggressively enforcing the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd, Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act to prosecute acts motivated by hate."
A sentencing date has yet to be scheduled, but should take place sometime in the next few months.
^ ^ ^ ^ Broch, the above post is so full of inherent contradictory "logic"…
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