Atlanta councilman proposes intervention legislation against youth violence

Credit: robert.andres@ajc.com

Credit: robert.andres@ajc.com

Atlanta City Councilman Antonio Lewis introduced two measures during Monday’s council meeting designed to deter youth violence and gang activity citywide.

Lewis introduced legislation requesting the mayor’s Office of Violence Reduction and the Atlanta Police Department give free lock boxes to eligible residents to reduce gun thefts.

He also introduced legislation urging Congress to reintroduce and approve the Youth PROMISE Act (Prison Reduction through Opportunities, Mentoring, Intervention, Support, and Education), which seeks evidence-based prevention methods to reduce juvenile delinquency and gang-related activity.

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Atlanta has had 26 self-inflicted gunshot wound cases as of Oct. 22, and five of those involved children, city officials said. Police officials say more than 200 unsecured guns have been stolen from cars during 2021. Lewis said in a statement that his legislation could deter accidental shootings.

“Instead of being reactionary, our office looked around the country for the best legislation so that we could be more proactive in reducing the kind of crime that’s occurring in Atlanta, including car break-ins and gun violence, without hurting folks financially or physically,” Lewis’s statement said.

Lewis introduced the resolutions after two boys were fatally shot in Midtown on the Saturday after Thanksgiving.

Zyion Charles, 12, and 15-year-old Cameron Jackson, who police said was the target of the shooting, were shot on Nov. 26 on the 17th Street bridge near Atlantic Station. Zyion died that night, and Cameron died three days later. Four others minors also were injured that night.

Zyion’s mother, Deerica Charles, says the system failed her son, who was associating with the wrong crowds after she stopped treating his mental illness due to an allergic reaction. The Charles family said they begged police at least 30 times in the last two years to arrest him, but authorities could not act unless he hurt someone.

Credit: Family photos

Credit: Family photos

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