An Atlanta mayoral candidate who voted to defund millions of dollars from the local police department’s budget reportedly had his car stolen by a group of young thieves this week.
City Council Member Antonio Brown had just gotten out of his white Mercedes coupe to speak to fellow community leader Ben Norman in northwest Atlanta’s Dixie Hills community Wednesday when he spotted four or five kids — the youngest only 6 or 7, WAGA-TV reported.
The children were walking around a store — and within seconds were inside Brown’s car, he said.
“One kid was in the driver’s seat,” Brown told the outlet. “Ben attempted to open the door to get him out of the car. He fought with Ben. I then engaged and tried to get him out of the car. The three other kids were trying to figure out how to get in the car or stay out of the car. He started to hit on the gas. Ben let go.”
“As he started to speed up, and I knew that if I had not let go, I knew I probably could have killed myself because he was going so fast, I would have started to tumble,” he added. “And I would have hurt him.”
Brown said he filed a report with the Atlanta Police Department.
Authorities confirmed they found his car a few hours later, but did not say if they made any arrests. Brown said he doesn’t want to press charges, according to the report.
It appeared that the kids acted out of desperation, Brown told WSB-TV.
“This is a generational poverty issue,” Brown said. “These kids, it’s 12:30 in the afternoon. Why aren’t they in school? Why aren’t we enforcing systems to ensure that if they are not in school, they’re in recreational centers?”
Brown. — who is under indictment on several federal fraud charges related to alleged incidents that occurred years before he took city council office in 2019 — launched his mayoral run on the platform of “reimagining” public safety and policing in Atlanta, according to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.
He was one of seven councilmembers who voted in support of an ordinance to withhold $73 million from Atlanta’s police department budget until Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms’ administration drafted a plan to reinvent the city’s culture of policing, the outlet reported.
The ordinance came in the wake of numerous demonstrations nationwide following the deaths of multiple black people at the hands of police officers. It was narrowly voted down, according to the report.
“The reality is this,” Brown told WAGA-TV. “We need programmatic initiatives in place to help support these kids to be able to give them another pathway instead of them committing crimes.”