Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms has established a committee to decide how the city can best memorialize the victims of the Atlanta Child Murders.
“It is important for Atlanta to acknowledge the innocent lives lost during one of our city’s darkest hours,” Bottoms said of the 1979-1982 period in which nearly 30 black children and young adults were murdered. “This taskforce will determine a lasting and appropriate tribute for the victims and their families, and serve as a testament that those lives mattered. That African American lives matter.”
Bottoms created the Atlanta Children’s Memorial Taskforce through an administrative order. She appointed the following people to serve on it:
- Frank Ski, the V-103 host, who will be the chair
- Catherine Leach-Bell, whose son Curtis Walker was among the victims, and who will be vice chair
- Sheila Balthazar, whose step-son Patrick Balthazar was among the victims
- Anthony Terrell, brother of victim Earl Terrell
- Andrea Boone, Atlanta City Council woman
- Valerie Jackson, widow of former Mayor Maynard Jackson
- Rev. Darrell Elligan, the prominent local minister
- Carolyn Long Banks, former City Council woman
- Joe Drolet, a former prosecutor who helped convict Wayne Williams of killing two adults
- Karen Graham, former Fox 5 anchor
- Michael Langford, longtime community activist and former city employee
- Brenda Muhammad, executive director of Atlanta Victim Assistance
- Will Packer, the well-known film and TV producer
“We hope to create a space that not only allows for grieving and healing,” said Ski, “but also for peace and hope in remembrance of the young lives lost.”
The taskforce will meet periodically and deliver a formal report to the mayor in six months.
In March, Bottoms and Atlanta Police Chief Erika Shields announced a project to re-examine evidence in the child murders to see if advances in technology could clear up long-lingering questions about who killed the children. Williams was convicted in 1982 in the two adult murders. At the time, officials said they were confident he’d also killed children and elected not to prosecute him, largely because he already had two life sentences.
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