For over ten years, some members of Atlanta’s wealthiest neighborhood, Buckhead, have worked to secede the neighborhood from Atlanta, citing rising crime rates in Buckhead. Their efforts came to a head in 2021, when contenders on both sides discussed the issue in a three-hour state hearing.
The Buckhead City Committee is the largest organization campaigning for secession, and describes itself as a “nonpartisan organization comprised of a group of diverse residents and business owners in. . . Buckhead. . .who want the best for our community.” Because of their concerns about rising crime rates, the Buckhead City Committee’s plans involve increasing the size of the police force in Buckhead from 80 to 250. The number of officers on staff would also increase from 20 to 80.
Those campaigning against Buckhead’s cityship, though, claim that crime is not actually increasing in Buckhead at all. Neighbors for a United Atlanta, a “grassroots, pro-Atlanta organization,” expand upon this claim on a page on their site.
According to the Atlanta Police Department’s final 2021 crime stats report, available on their website, violent crime decreased by 7% in Buckhead’s Zone 2 from 2020 to 2021. With only 20 police officers on staff at any given time, Buckhead is already the safest area in Atlanta, with its police Zone accounting for about 11% of all violent crime in the city.
Despite the decrease in violent crime in Zone 2 in 2021, Bill White, leader of the Buckhead City Committee, told Bloomberg in October 21: “We are living in a war zone in Buckhead. Shootings and killings, it just never ends.”
Those against Buckhead’s seccession also claim that the move would harm Atlanta financially. Buckhead’s property taxes provide over 40% of the city’s property revenue. Buckhead’s taxes help pay for public services like parks, zoning and roads. The Buckhead City Committee claims that the new city would no longer support Atlanta in those services, instead creating its own plans to provide them.
Some analysts, too, have pointed out that the secession of Buckhead’s primarily white neighborhood from Atlanta, a majority Black city, could deepen racial tensions. Those against the new city claim that the increased police force would be harmful, not helpful, and cost far more than it should.
Further, Bill White shared a Tweet in early January suggesting that black people are the cause of violence in Atlanta. The origin of the Tweet was a known white supremacist page.
“@BuckheadCityGA NOW,” he added to the Tweet, which he later deleted after receiving backlash.