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News - Are calls for a crackdown on Buckhead nightlife racially motivated?""

NO. People in Buckhead just want order restored.

Eight people have been murdered there this year. This tragic loss of life should be more than enough to unite Atlanta against continued lawlessness in the city's upscale party district. Sadly, it has not.
Instead, we are a city divided. Buckhead residents who want City Hall to restore order decisively have seen their motives questioned and their concerns ignored by a mayor who would rather change the subject with shrill cries of racism than face the cold reality of his own failure.
Bill Campbell has fiddled while Buckhead burned. He has made the Atlanta Police Department his personal play-toy, driving down morale with constant micro-mismanagement. He whined like a brat when police found a stolen car in his driveway. And he decimated a force he vowed to build.
As Stephanie Ramage recently reported ("The Key to Saving Buckhead," CL, Sept. 16), Atlanta employs 1,500 officers. That's 300 fewer than the city budget authorizes — and 500 fewer than Campbell promised when he ran for reelection. With over 500 cops behind desks, less than 1,000 are left to patrol city streets.
In Buckhead, the thin blue line is stretched very thin indeed. While Ramage saw plenty of off-duty cops working bar security on a Saturday night, she didn't see a single police car in two-and-a-half hours of late-night reporting. Not one.
How out of control have things gotten? On Aug. 27, two gunmen faced off in a duel at a Buckhead gas station, apparently over the videotaping of two other people having oral sex in the parking lot. The suspected killer counted to three and began firing. The other gunman died on the scene. A would-be peacemaker, shot twice, survived.
City streets free of lawmen tend to become lawless in a hurry, particularly when their gutters are brimming with booze. That is why, as Ramage reported, New Orleans deploys 160 cops in the French Quarter and New York puts 400-plus around Times Square.
People in Buckhead want order restored. They want cops, not kids, ruling the streets. They aren't worried about the color of people partying — but the number of people dying.
Meanwhile, Campbell complains that some blacks don't feel welcome in Buckhead, as if hurt feelings matter more than lost lives. He clearly hopes to distract attention from his own mishandling of crime. But what is the NAACP's excuse? The historic civil rights group has dispatched "monitors" to make sure Atlanta's black-led cops don't unduly hassle blacks in Buckhead. What a mission.
Not all black leaders miss the point. As former Mayor Andrew Young said recently, "We take an easy out [when we] look at everything in terms of black and white." Amen.





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