I have dedicated a tremendous amount of time during my 21 years in the Georgia Senate to criminal justice reform, and hope to continue that fight as your next Mayor of Atlanta.
I have fought for police body cameras and to restrict “no knock warrants,” as well as to require special prosecutors for cases in which a police officer is charged with a felony or an act of violence. The goal is to not only help to protect private citizens in cases of police altercations for minor offenses, but also to help restore trust in our law enforcement. I also worked to put an end to our state’s Stand Your Ground law, a law that has all too often been used in an attempt to justify unnecessary deadly force.
I am a strong opponent of police militarization, because I believe that our streets should not be war zones. A militarized police does not make us safer — it only works to further damage the trust between our law enforcement and private citizens, and costs a whole lot of money in the process.
But we don’t just need reform in our law enforcement — we need reform in our laws too. I believe it is unacceptable that in the civil rights capital of the world, we are losing a generation of young people of color to arrests for possession of marijuana. I believe it is repugnant that Fulton County, once known for leading the fight for racial justice, now has one of the highest instance of racial disparities for these arrests in the country. I believe it is immoral and unethical for this city to spend our tax dollars locking kids up instead of lifting them out of this vicious cycle of poverty. And I believe that is it no coincidence that a WSB-TV report last year that found 93 percent of Atlanta’s marijuana possession arrests were African-Americans.
According to the ACLU, marijuana arrests costs Georgians an estimated $310 million in tax dollars every year. But that’s not the only price we pay. The mass incarceration of people of color for marijuana is the entry point to the revolving door of the prison pipeline that ruins not only one life, but entire generations of families forever. These are bright young people we’re locking away, these are folks with real potential that we are labeling as “criminals” for life.
As your Mayor, I hope to continue these fights to make Atlanta a safer place for all of us.