Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms

Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms

Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms responded publicly Wednesday to national calls to "defund the police" after the death of George Floyd.

Answering a question from Councilmember Marci Collier Overstreet, Bottoms told Atlanta City Council that calls to defund the police are actually about re-thinking what gets funded.

“The intent of this movement, as best as I can assess, really is about reallocating funds toward social services and support and community enhancement initiatives,” Bottoms said.   

She said Atlanta has spent the last few years moving its corrections budget around, such as closing the city jail and turning it into a community center.

Bottoms said the bulk of Atlanta's police budget goes to salaries, pensions, worker compensation and capital costs.

On Wednesday, a 28-member advisory council will hold its first meeting to examine police use of force and to develop recommendations on strengthening public safety in Atlanta. 

The council was created June 4th after days of protests that included property damage and looting and the firing of two Atlanta police officers accused of using excessive force while arresting two college students. 

The city has also set up a fund to help business owners who suffered from looting and damage.

“This new recovery fund will offer grants to small businesses to help them address any physical damages and other debilitating losses,“ Bottoms said.

When asked about why she announced curfews several days in advance last week, Bottoms said it was at the request of business owners who said they needed advance warning about when to close.

Bottoms said Atlanta continues to see peaceful protests and she encouraged everyone who has participated in demonstrations to get tested for COVID-19.

“COVID-19 is still very real,” Bottoms said.