Nationwide, America’s gradual reopening has seen the country getting back to what it does best: violence. Atlanta is one of several cities that is experiencing a surge in violent crime, and the predominantly white community of Buckhead has proposed a revolutionary new solution: leaving.
CNN reports that efforts are under way in the community to establish Buckhead as its own city. “We filed for divorce and our divorce is final,” Bill White, chairman and CEO of the Buckhead City Committee, told CNN. “We’re forming our own city, we’re establishing our own police force and we will eradicate crime.” Sure you will, Bill.
Homicides in Atlanta have been up 63 percent compared to last year—you know, the year no one went outside—and are up 43 percent compared to 2019. The city has also seen over 300 shootings from the start of this year. “We’re too far gone for the city of Atlanta to help us at this point,” Regina, a Buckhead resident, told CNN. “We’ve lost all faith in them.”
I get that violent crime is a terrible thing, but this shit right here is why I’m ultimately skeptical of America’s ability to become anything more than the land of anti-intellectualism and hyper-violence. Instead of advocating for their tax dollars to go towards programs that address the underlying roots of violent crime (poverty, mental health issues, lax gun control), the predominantly white city of Buckhead would rather take all their resources and go.
The people of Buckhead have said one of their primary concerns has been seeing their tax dollars put to good use, which I get. Apparently, these people have never seen Joker, though, otherwise they would know we live in a society. It’s not just you. The problems affecting the people of Buckhead are affecting everyone in Atlanta, so why not advocate on behalf of everyone? Wouldn’t that have a better chance of solving the underlying problem?
It’s also, in my opinion, woefully naive to think that simply calling yourself a city is going to stop violent crime. People of Buckhead, I hate to tell you this, but y’all are still in America, sweetie. Violence is kind of the way of the jungle here.
Having simply paid attention to the last decade, I have no illusions about the fact that there’s always the possibility that someone could walk into the grocery store, church, movie theater, or even food truck festival I’m attending and start shooting up the place.
Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms called out the fact that simply making Buckhead a city wouldn’t stop people from being able to cross geographic lines. “As we know, people can travel across geographic line—they do each day, every day,” Bottoms said in a virtual news conference. “Establishing a city is not going to address that issue but it is going to be addressed through partnership and productive dialogue on how we can address crime not just in Buckhead but throughout the city of Atlanta.”
Should Buckhead successfully become independent from Atlanta, it would also have uncomfortable racial ramifications.
Atlanta would have a lot less revenue without Buckhead, Ronald Bayor, professor emeritus of history at Georgia Tech and author of “Race and the Shaping of Twentieth-Century Atlanta,” said. But it’s also the divisions the new city would create that worry him.
“Basically, this would be splitting along some racial lines,” he said.
Buckhead became a part of Atlanta in the early 1950s under then-Mayor William Hartsfield’s “Plan of Improvement.”
“It was pulled in to enhance the White population in the city and to create a White majority once again, so race was a very big factor in Buckhead coming in,” Bayor said.
Atlanta is now roughly 51% Black and 38% White, according to the US Census Bureau. Without Buckhead, Atlanta would become roughly 59% Black and 31% White, according to the AJC analysis. Buckhead City, if it became a reality, would be roughly 74% White and 11% Black, the analysis found.
State legislators have already introduced a bill that could potentially allow for a vote to create “Buckhead City” to be on the 2022 ballot. Given that Republicans around the country are dead set on bringing back Jim Crow, I guess we shouldn’t be surprised that white flight is making a comeback as well.