The affluent area of Buckhead moved closer to successfully seceding from Atlanta, Georgia, on Monday, as GOP legislators in the Georgia Senate advanced two bills relating to the issue.
If both the Senate and House passes the bills and Governor Brian Kemp (R-GA) signs them, the residents of Buckhead, a 24-square mile area which is 73.5% white and 23.9% black, will be able to vote in November 2024 to leave the city.
A spokesperson for Atlanta Mayor Andre Dickens indicated the panic Atlanta feels about the possible move, saying that City Hall “will continue to work with the Senate to put an end to this legislation before it has disastrous consequences,” according to Fortune.
The area has been faced with a series of violent crimes. As recently as December, a Buckhead grandmother was preparing for Christmas when she was knifed to death in her garage.
Seventy-seven-year-old Eleanor Bowles, the mother of two, lived in the Buckhead residential district in a gated community. She was found dead by her son Michael, who discovered his mother’s body stabbed multiple times when he came home for Christmas. Police said that the grandmother appeared to have been making Christmas preparations when she went into the garage and allegedly found Antonio Brown, 23, attempting to steal her Lexus SUV.
#BREAKING: The Atlanta Police Department has arrested the suspect accused of stabbing to death Eleanor Bowles in her Buckhead home. https://t.co/5mTBOimejq
— Atlanta Journal-Constitution (@ajc) December 13, 2022
ARREST IN BUCKHEAD HOMICIDE | @Atlanta_Police confirm 23-year-old Antonio Brown was arrested. @DeKalbCountyPD assisted in arrest. 77-year-old Ellen Bowles was stabbed to death on Saturday inside her Paces West gated subdivision. pic.twitter.com/DIg1kYDqCo
— Cody Alcorn (@CodyAlcorn) December 13, 2022
“I was on my way to visit her for the holidays and got to her a few hours too late,” Michael Bowles told FOX 5. “Finding her like that is something that will be with me forever. What happened to her was her worst nightmare. It’s most people’s worst nightmare.”
“I am committed to getting the word out about this outrageous tragedy. And I want everyone to understand that none of us are safe,” he continued. “I hope that people read this story and understand this, and then maybe we can all collectively effectuate some change. I will carry that message with me forever, for mom.”
In 2021, as a rash of crime affected Buckhead, residents gathered to form the Buckhead Exploratory Committee to petition Georgia to permit a vote on whether the district could secede from Atlanta. The effort raised hundreds of thousands of dollars, according to The Washington Post.
“The mayor and the city council have been making bad decisions, so at what point does anyone with a brain say, ‘Enough?’” Buckhead Exploratory Committee chairman Bill White said. “If crime is out of control and you are doing nothing about it, you are finished as a city.”
One local resident told Bloomberg News, “We are living in a war zone in Buckhead. Shootings and killings, it just never ends.”