By Chelsea Beimfohr
ATLANTA, Georgia (WANF) — Monday afternoon the mother of 12-year-old Zyion Charles begged Atlanta leaders at a public safety committee meeting to do something after her son was shot and killed near Atlantic Station.
“Help these young boys while they still have a chance, because I don’t have a chance no more. I don’t,” Charles’ mother said.
Atlanta City Councilwoman Keisha Sean Waites heard the mother’s cries for help and drafted a temporary solution. She wants to impose a 7 p.m. curfew for everyone under 17 years old.
“We already have a curfew in place. I want to be clear about that. It’s 11 pm right now for individuals who are 16 years and under. This measure would require individuals who are 17 years and under and it would be a 7 p.m. curfew,” Waites said.
Waites says the curfew wouldn’t apply to kids out working at jobs, and parents could still chaperone young people to places like the mall after 7 p.m.
“There is no reason why our young people should be out unsupervised,” Waites said
But Waites says it will take more than an enforced curfew to curb Atlanta gun violence. She thinks the violence is a result of unmet needs, like lack of affordable housing, inadequate access to mental health services, and low-paying wages.
“This is really a social issue,” Waites said.
Waites plans to introduce the legislation calling for the citywide curfew for all youth aged 17 and under to Atlanta City Council next week.
The legislation will also require any location that has experienced historical patterns of violence, multiple incidents, or homicides to integrate commercial-grade cameras into the Atlanta Police Department’s Video Integration Center, or VIC, which is a high-tech operation that enables 9-1-1 operators to access the cameras.
Council member Waites will also be reaching out to local shopping centers, malls, and other locations where large groups of youth typically gather without supervision, to partner in enforcing a new curfew.
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