Atlanta mayor’s speech praised by many; critics say city must do more – By Stephen DeereGreg Bluestein (The Atlanta Journal-Constitution) / May 30 2020
Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms’ emotional plea late Friday night to end the looting surrounding the protests over another black man killed by a white police officer resonated across racial and political boundaries.
The heartfelt and moving speech also may have highlighted a generational disconnect between the city’s leadership and those young people in the streets seeking justice.
In addition, how Bottoms handles the protests here will no doubt be a marker as to how well this mayor, just in her first term, leads the city through another crisis.
She has to skillfully balance the need to protect Atlanta residents and property, but also allow the city’s tradition of peaceful protests to continue.
Her words and actions have won praise by most elected officials and residents, but some say this is a moment that should inspire Bottoms and city leaders to aggressively address the social, economic, and political issues that led to this weekend’s violence.
In her speech, Bottoms spoke of her experience as the mother of four black children – three of them males; the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King; and Atlanta’s national reputation for being the cradle of the civil rights movement and for fostering significant financial opportunities for minorities.
“I pray over my children each and every day,” Bottoms said. “So what I see happening on the streets of Atlanta is not Atlanta. This is not a protest. This is not in the spirit of Martin Luther King Jr. This is chaos.”