ATLANTA, Ga. (CW69 News at 10) — Car enthusiasts and community organizers rallied last night over a proposed amendment that could land some street racers extra time in jail.
“The legislation that is being introduced on Monday by Councilmember Julian Bond seeks to dismantle the progress that we’ve made towards ending cash for bail in the City of Atlanta,” said Devin Barrington-Ward, an organizer for Movement for Black Lives Atlanta.
Barrington-Ward is referring to Atlanta City Councilman Michael Julian Bond’s proposed city code amendment, which is listed under a section labeled “Bail Established Under Certain Circumstances.” It involves detaining a defendant for certain street racing-related offenses until their first court appearance.
“Cash Bail is a system connected to our two-tiered system of justice, where if you have money, you are extended different courtesies and freedoms,” said Barrington-Ward. For those who don’t have hundreds of dollars to bail themselves out, they’re stuck in jail for what’s considered a non-violent offense.
Barrington-Ward and others say Bond is trying to repeal the bail reform they say fixed the problem two years ago. “What he’s trying to do is use street racing as a scapegoat for what his real agenda is, which is to roll back all of the progress that we have made toward dismantling the evil parts of our criminal legal system.”
“It’s completely a lie,” said Bond, who represents Post 1 At-Large. “One of the things that people need to remember is that I voted and supported bail reform in Atlanta.” He says all the proposed amendment will do is codify an existing ordinance. “All it’s doing is requiring folks that want to sign their own bond on these traffic offenses to go before a judge. That’s it.”
All sides agree about the dangers of street racing. It’s something Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms and Atlanta Police have recently addressed. “The actions of street racers are endangering Atlanta. We want the streets to be safe for everyone,” Bond said.
Community organizers, along with Councilman Antonio Brown, say they’re looking for solutions. “The response, in terms of always looking to courts, police, and to jails as the answer, is not the solution,” said Barrington-Ward. Brown says he’s working to help find a private lot to create a safe space for street racers as part of the solution.
Atlanta city council members are expected to look at the proposed amendment on October 26.
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