Keisha Lance Bottoms, who narrowly beat out Mary Norwood to become Atlanta’s new mayor, is signaling her priorities, and it’s not what you might have expected coming from a woman of color, let alone a ‘liberal’ woman of color:
One of her first priorities is building up the city’s police force.
Wait, what? Is that Atlanta’s biggest challenge right now?
“We know that we are around 1800 officers we really need to get to 2500 at some point. Certainly 2000 but I think that another component we need to focus on is our technology integration so staffing is one component,” said Bottoms. “But I’ve been speaking with the Police Foundation about as it relates to how we police in our communities and personnel is a part of it but technology is a huge part of it as well.”
Bottoms says thankfully her administration isn’t going to be a hostile takeover of City Hall as many felt Norwood’s administration was going to be.
Phew, at least everyone’s getting along!
Oh, they’re not?
Atlanta ranks second to Miami in terms of income inequality. It’s third in the nation in evictions, a fact that has sped up the displacement of its African-American population to suburbs.
“The challenges for the mayor going forward are affordability for a range of incomes,” (Michael Leo) Owens says.
It would seem that even in the subtext of black communities income inequality is a big issue.
“It’s clear that having a black mayor and black-run institutions have not been enough in bringing large numbers of black people out of poverty,” Owens says.
Of course, there’s more to it to that, with at least some element of envy:
But the successes of Atlanta’s middle- and upper-class African-American population — and the efforts by City Hall to focus resources and time on helping the largely black south side — fueled resentment among white residents.
But, it would seem that even amidst the black community there is notable economic division:
“Atlanta’s position as the black mecca is based on three things: education, its black merchant class and black political power,” says Maurice Hobson, assistant professor of African-American studies at Georgia State.
“What we are seeing now is the maturation of black voting power in the American South. Now that segregation is so far away, black people are now splintering,” Hobson says. “You see the splintering of the black community in Atlanta.”
It doesn’t sound to me that a larger police force, and a need for better “technology” within the police force, may be Atlanta’s biggest priority.
I hope Mayor Bottoms adjusts her ‘priorities’, so that Atlanta may prosper.