The Atlanta Journal-Constitution has reported that Senator Brandon Beach has filed a bill calling for the Buckhead area of Atlanta to secede from the city. Beach justified his proposal by arguing that it would help the area get a better handle on the crime within the city of Atlanta.
“Over the past few weeks, we have heard testimony from Buckhead residents who feel their needs are not currently being addressed and what the proposed incorporation would entail,” Beach told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.
“I believe it is now the time for citizens in the Buckhead neighborhood of Atlanta to have the ability to determine for themselves whether to form their own city and establish services which would be more responsive to their needs.”
Beach’s controversial bill currently has the support of a dozen state senators. However, there is one key issue. Beach nor any of his supporters represent the city of Atlanta. Instead, many of the people that live and work in the city argue that Beach’s desire for Buckhead to secede from Atlanta has little to do with crime and more to do with race.
“I think that much of what’s going on is about the inability of [white Buckhead residents] to have greater influence over the policy choices of the city of Atlanta,” Michael Leo Owens, a polticial scientist in Atlanta, told Bloomberg Businessweek.
Further reporting from Bloomberg Businessweek shows that Buckhead differs from other parts of the city in more ways than one. More than 80% of Buckhead’s residents are white while less than 40% of Atlanta’s residents are white. At an economic level, 49% of Buckhead households make $100,000 or more each year while only 31% of Atlanta households make six figures each year. Not to mention, Buckhead is the only section of Atlanta to vote for Donald Trump last November.
“[Buckhead] is among the Whitest parts of Atlanta, and it is the epicenter of Republicanism in Atlanta. All those things map on to each other to create, at a minimum, a racial cleavage, with regards to politics and elections in the city of Atlanta.”
Beach’s proposal comes at a time when Atlanta’s political climate is very unsteady. Early voting has already begun in a contentious run-off mayoral election. It’s unclear how much, if at all, this issue could impact the election. Edward Lindsey, chairman of the Committee for a United Atlanta, a group that opposes the creation of Buckhead City, told the AJC that he is committed to making “Buckhead and all of Atlanta safer and more prosperous.”
“The Committee for a United Atlanta is focused on encouraging Buckhead residents to get out and vote in the upcoming mayoral runoff and to insist that the candidates seeking our support commit to effectively combating crime and instituting needed reforms to improve the lives of all Atlanta residents,” he continued.
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