Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms virtually sat down for an interview with TMZ on Thursday to talk about the fatal shooting of Ahmaud Arbery that occurred in February. She revealed that the crime has made her scared that her sons could face the same fate in a country so vehemently divided by racism.
The mayor spoke to TMZ about how Arbery’s shooting — which happened in broad daylight while he was out for a daily jog — has impacted Georgia, her city of Atlanta, and life within her own home. She told the outlet that the incident was particularly scary for her and her family because Arbery had done nothing but go for a jog.
Bottoms recalled the talk she had with her teenage sons about how black men should interact with the police in order to avoid being hurt — a talk she stressed that all black mothers need to have with their sons. She went on to tell TMZ that she never imagined having to warn them about random white people on the street chasing them down with guns while they were exercising. She said Arbery’s shooting has made her rethink how she talks to her sons about staying safe as African American men, and it’s intensified her fear about how safe they actually are in the United States.
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Bottoms then said that she believed the country’s current leadership was contributing to the problem of violence against African Americans rather than improving race relations. These comments echoed the remarks she made earlier in the week.
In an interview with CNN on Monday, Bottoms stated that the White House was giving racist people in the United States the green light to act on their beliefs.
“With the rhetoric we hear coming out of the White House in so many ways, I think that many who are prone to being racist are given permission to do it in an overt way that we otherwise would not see in 2020,” she said. “In cities across this country, even if local leadership fails, there was always the backstop of our Justice Department to step in and make sure people are appropriately prosecuted. But we don’t have that leadership at the top right now. It’s disheartening.”
In the same interview, Bottoms called Arbery’s murder a “lynching,” and asserted that the men allegedly responsible for the shooting wouldn’t have been arrested unless the video had been made public. She added that she believed the reason the arrests had not been made earlier and might not have been made without the video was that the country doesn’t have “leadership at the top that cares for all of our communities and not just in words but in deeds as well.”