In an impassioned press conference Sunday night, Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms issued a full-throated call for citizens to stop “shooting each other up on our streets,” after an 8-year-old girl was shot and killed on the Fourth of July near a Wendy’s that became a flashpoint of recent anti-police Black Lives Matter (BLM) protests in the city.
Bottoms, considered a potential running mate for Joe Biden, made the remarks as she fought through tears — and the nation endured a new bout of urban carnage. Sixty-three people were injured and 17 killed in Chicago, including two children, over the weekend; and in New York City, 44 were hurt and at least 6 killed.
“Enough is enough,” Bottoms said. “Enough is enough. We have talked about this movement that’s happening across America and this moment in time when we have the ears and the interests of people across this country and across this globe who are saying they want to see change. But the difference in this moment in time with the civil rights movement — the civil rights movement, there was a defined, common enemy. We’re fighting the enemy within when we are shooting each other up on our streets.”
She continued: “You shot and killed a baby. And there wasn’t just one shooter; there were at least two shooters. An eight-year-old baby. If you want people to take us seriously, and you don’t want us to lose this movement, then we can’t lose each other.”
“It has to stop,” Bottoms added, according to FOX 5 Atlanta. “You can’t blame this on police officers. It’s about people who shot a baby in a car. We’re doing each other more harm than any officer on this force.”
Secoriya Williamson, the father of 8-year-old Secoriea Turner, told reporters that his daughter had been killed after at least two people in a crowd of armed people opened fire on a car she was riding in with her mother. Authorities said the mother had attempted to drive through illegally placed barricades in the area when the vehicle came under fire Saturday night.
“They say Black Lives Matter. You killed your own,” Williamson said. “They killed my baby because she crossed a barrier and made a U-turn? You killed a child. She didn’t do nothing to nobody. Black Lives Matter? You killing your own. You killed an 8-year-old child. She ain’t did nothing to no one of y’all. She just wanted to get home to see her cousin. That’s all she wanted to do.”
The shooting happened near the Wendy’s restaurant where a black man, Rayshard Brooks, was killed by an Atlanta police officer on June 12. Brooks was shot only after he was caught on tape beating two officers, stealing a taser from one, and then turning and shooting the taser at an officer. The officer who shot Brooks is now fighting charges that could bring the death penalty, and the officer’s stepmother was fired from her job. (She told Fox News she was “stunned” by her termination and the charges against her son.)
The fast-food outlet was later burned, and the area has since become a site for frequent demonstrations against police brutality.
In a statement Sunday, police said the girl was in a car with her mother and a friend of the mother when they got off Interstate-75/85 onto University Avenue and were trying to enter a parking lot nearby. They ran into a group of armed individuals who had blocked the entrance.
“At some point, someone in that group opened fire on the vehicle, striking it multiple times and striking the child who was inside,” the statement read. The driver drove the girl to Atlanta Medical Center but she did not survive.
“They say Black Lives Matter. You killed your own.”
— Secoriya Williamson
Police said they are seeking help from the public to identify those involved and released a wanted poster saying a person all dressed in black and another in a white T-shirt were being sought.
Bottoms said there have been problems with protesters in the area putting up barriers to close off the street. She said she received a message that the barriers were back up less than an hour before she was informed that the 8-year-old girl had died.
“An 8-year-old girl was killed last night because her mother was riding down the street,” Bottoms said. “If Secoriea was not safe last night, none of us are safe.”
The mayor urged anyone with information about the shooting to come forward.
“The political agenda of BLM results in blacks being killed,” said journalist Andy Ngo, who extensively covers Antifa and the BLM movement. BLM explicitly advocates for the destruction of the “nuclear family structure,” which President Trump has called the “bedrock of American life.” Multiple commentators have agreed that stable family structures greatly reduce crime rates, citing statistics and personal experience.
Until recently, BLM was viewed with skepticism by members of both parties. A newly unearthed, secretive 2015 Democratic congressional memo flatly calls BLM a “radical group.”
The violence in Atlanta wasn’t restricted to BLM-related areas. Police said two other people, in addition to the 8-year-old, were killed and more than 20 people were injured in incidents of gunfire and violence during the long holiday weekend.
The mayor said the city’s 911 system was flooded with calls Saturday night and pointed to protesters who damaged a Georgia State Patrol headquarters in Atlanta in a separate incident early Sunday. But she said the city’s police force, though tasked by the weekend’s shootings, did not have problems with large numbers of police officers calling in sick.
That had been a problem in the days after murder charges were filed against one of the officers in the Brooks shooting.
Meanwhile, citing publicly available data, commentators have asserted that the very idea of systemic racism by police is questionable — and that efforts to focus on the police may obscure problems elsewhere.
“In 2018, the latest year for which such data have been published, African-Americans made up 53% of known homicide offenders in the U.S. and commit about 60% of robberies, though they are 13% of the population,” Heather Mac Donald wrote in The Wall Street Journal this week.
“In 2018 there were 7,407 black homicide victims,” she went on. “Assuming a comparable number of victims last year, those nine unarmed black victims of police shootings represent 0.1% of all African-Americans killed in 2019. By contrast, a police officer is 18½ times more likely to be killed by a black male than an unarmed black male is to be killed by a police officer.”
Mac Donald continued: “A 2015 Justice Department analysis of the Philadelphia Police Department found that white police officers were less likely than black or Hispanic officers to shoot unarmed black suspects. Research by Harvard economist Roland G. Fryer Jr. also found no evidence of racial discrimination in shootings. Any evidence to the contrary fails to take into account crime rates and civilian behavior before and during interactions with police.”
Fryer’s work has also determined that when police pull out of communities, black deaths tend to increase. “The false narrative of systemic police bias resulted in targeted killings of officers during the Obama presidency,” Mac Donald concluded.
Fox News’ Edmund DeMarche and The Associated Press contributed to this report.