City councilman’s car stolen after ceremony in NW Atlanta

Antonio Brown was attending a ribbon-cutting ceremony when his car was stolen.

Antonio Brown was attending a ribbon-cutting ceremony when his car was stolen.

An Atlanta city councilman and mayoral candidate running on a campaign of “reimagining public safety” became a victim of the city’s crime wave Wednesday when his SUV was stolen after an event.

Four people jumped into Councilman Antonio Brown’s 2016 Mercedes 450 and took off while he was speaking to a business owner, according to an Atlanta police report.

The incident happened along Verbena Street in northwest Atlanta about 11:45 a.m., police said.

Brown had attended a ribbon-cutting ceremony for a Dunkin’ and Baskin-Robbins combination store on Moreland Avenue earlier in the morning, according to the councilman’s Instagram account.

When Brown arrived at the Verbena Street address, he parked the Mercedes and got out of the vehicle to speak to someone in the parking lot, the police report said. That’s when “several males entered his unlocked car and drove away with it,” police said.

“At this time, officers are gathering information on exactly how this happened and working to identify anyone involved in the incident and locate the stolen vehicle,” police said.

In a phone call with The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Brown said the car thieves appeared to be kids and that one of them “acted as though he had a gun.”

“You don’t immediately think, ‘Oh, these kids are going to steal my car,’” Brown said. Like many modern vehicles, Brown’s car has keyless push-to-start ignition and he did not realize it had been started at first.

The councilman said he held onto the car and was dragged about a block down the road before letting go.

“He started to go faster and faster,” Brown said.

The theft comes within weeks of Brown announcing his mayoral campaign amid an increase in violent crime across the city. Brown threw his hat into the contentious race May 14, joining the ranks of Councilman Andre Dickens, attorney Sharon Gay and City Council President Felicia Moore, who previously pointed to Atlanta’s “out of control” crime as her motivation for running.

Homicides are up at least 52% from this time last year, while the number of shootings has increased more than 40%, according to the Atlanta Police Department’s most recent crime data.

The surge has led to an outcry from rattled residents and business owners and pressure on public officials to put the epidemic of violence at the forefront of their efforts.

Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms announced she would not seek reelection this fall, setting the stage for a wide-open race for City Hall.

Brown kicked off his run for mayor with a platform of “reimagining” public safety and policing in Atlanta. Earlier this year, he sponsored a City Council ordinance to look into the feasibility of restructuring Atlanta’s public safety agencies and creating a new city department focused on “wellness.”

The councilman was also among the seven councilmembers who voted in support of an ordinance to withhold $73 million of the Atlanta Police Department’s budget until Bottoms’ administration drafted a plan to reinvent the culture of policing in the city. The ordinance, which was narrowly voted down, came in the aftermath of mass demonstrations nationwide sparked by the deaths of numerous Black people at the hands of police officers.

Brown is under indictment on several federal fraud charges. Prosecutors said the councilman lied about his income on applications to obtain loans and credit cards used for personal purchases. All of the alleged incidents occurred years before he won the council seat in 2019.

— Staff writer J.D. Capelouto contributed to this article.