Despite the sound and fury, the effort to de-annex Buckhead from the city landed in the dust bin.

It was a tempest in a teapot.

I saw the Buckhead City yards signs for calling for two votes. They were sporadic at best compared to the number of yards seemingly abstaining. And I read the NextDoor.com posts and the newspaper articles.

They had the same handful of people quoted over and over again.

Nonetheless, it consumed us.

During a question and answer period following a talk on Buckhead history I gave, most of the questions were about potential cityhood. Standing Peachtree and Henry Irby didn’t have a chance.

The individuals elected to lead Buckhead were either against the measure or declined to pick sides. That left it to Republican state leaders to calmly walk over and put the lid back on the teapot.

It didn’t come a moment too soon. It was exhausting for all of us.

An elderly gentleman, who had expressed support for cityhood, said to me, “I’m glad that Buckhead City [malarkey] is over.” He used a stronger word than malarkey, but this is a family paper.

While I share the sentiment, I sympathize with the underlying premise of de-annexation. I mean, who could argue against quality of life, safety and security and better city services?

The movement wasn’t new. When I was the editor of this paper, the Fulton County Taxpayers Association pushed for the city of Buckhead. A small band of residents have beaten the drum since.

But something snapped in the summer of 2020. The ‘defund the police’ mantra shocked most of us. I trace it back to looters working their way up Peachtree Road from Piedmont Avenue, smashing storefronts and stealing anything that wasn’t nailed down during the Black Lives Matter protests.

Around that time, I stopped by a friend’s Buckhead restaurant. It was closed. When I called, he told me until it was safe, he wasn’t reopening. He never reopened.

Buckhead has never been crime-free. I know several people who were the victims of brutal crimes, including being robbed at gunpoint in their front yards. My great aunt was kidnapped from her home after a night out.

That was then.

Over the last two years, a new element has infiltrated Atlanta and Buckhead in particular, with zero regards for the law, property or life in some cases.

The police report multiple shootings every weekend. People are shot behind the wheels of their cars in broad daylight on Peachtree.

Street racers close down intersections to do donuts in front of spectators. This happened repeatedly a few blocks from our house.

Residents are rightly scared to death. As violent crime exploded, the de-annexation effort picked up steam.

Crime is a problem all over Atlanta. While there are areas where crime rates are higher, Buckhead residents shouldn’t have to learn to live with it. No one should forfeit safety and security, regardless of where they live. That is not how society works.

I know our police officers take our safety seriously. They are doing everything in their power to gain control of a problem that has spiraled dangerously.

I am most optimistic about the At-Promise Youth and Community Centers, Atlanta Police Foundation’s youth crime reduction initiative. Unfortunately, the perpetrators seem to be getting younger and younger. An intervention is overdue and necessary.

In killing the Buckhead cityhood movement, Georgia Lt. Governor Geoff Duncan said there were unanswered questions. He also touted a $100 million tax credit to support local law enforcement.

Georgia House Speaker David Ralston said he was giving new Mayor Andre Dickens time to implement a plan to curb violent crime.

Secession supporters aren’t having it. They want local control of law enforcement now, in addition to myriad other things.

While the issue may be dead for 2022, their efforts are not wasted.

Notice has been served.

Atlanta leadership has a year to fix residents’ concerns. And if they don’t, the tempest may well break the teapot.

Thornton Kennedy is the president of PR South, a public relations firm and a former news editor of this paper. He can be reached at thornton@prsouth.net.

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(1) comment

Mike Nelson

Has anyone noticed that large cities that are run by democratic members are crime ridden, corruption is rampant and never gets better. Just look at Atlanta the new Chicago. Buckhead would be foolish to stay but if they stay don’t ever complain. You voted them in so live with it.

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