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Stone Mountain

The Atlanta City Council has voted to approve a 3.5 percent pay increases for some police and fire personnel, but not sworn officers. The delay on increases for sworn officers is due to the ongoing litigation over pension payments. Representatives for several of the police and fire unions spoke during public comment in favor of across-the-board pay raises. Councilmember C.T. Martin said arriving at the increase had been “hard, but it’s progress.” Martin also said the additional increases could be back in front of the council in two weeks. Councilmember Felicia Moore said she was supportive of workers getting pay increases, but questioned whether the city would be able to figure it out in two weeks time.

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A vote to spend nearly $2 million on 1,000 body cameras for the Atlanta Police Department went back to committee after questions were raised about the bidding process. Decatur-based Utility Inc., which provides APD’s in-car camera equipment, questioned why the body cameras weren’t put out for bid. The owner of Utility and several staff members spoke during the public comment section about the issue.

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The council also voted 8-2 on a resolution to ask Gov. Nathan Deal to form a study group on how to “augment” the carvings on  Stone Mountain to represent more of the state’s history. Councilmember Michael Julian Bond, who crafted the resolution, said Stone Mountain, which is a state park located in DeKalb County, is supported by tax dollars and should reflect all of Georgia. “It’s not beyond the pale to adapt that face of Stone Mountain to add more images,” Bond said, mentioning Georgia founder James Oglethorpe, Yamacraw Indian Chief Tomochichi, Martin Luther King, Jr. and President Jimmy Carter. In the resolution Bond cited racial tensions and the rejuvenated debate of removing Confederate symbols from state property following the murder of members of a Charleston, SC church by a white supremacist.

Both Councilmembers Howard Shook and Alex Wan voted against the resolution, with Wan stating the city wading into the debate about Stone Mountain was a “stretch.”

Councilmember Ivory Lee Young compared the carving of Confederate general’s on Stone Mountain’s north face to the Nazi swastika. “I vowed when I moved to Atlanta in 1988 that I would never set foot on the grounds of Stone Mountain until that carving glorifying those terrorists is gone, and I won’t.”

Bond also introduced legislation calling for the state to provide funding for the Georgia Bureau of Investigation (GBI) to investigate officer involved shootings where racial or social economic bias have been alleged. That legislation passed unanimously.

Collin Kelley

Collin Kelley has been the editor of Atlanta Intown for two decades and has been a journalist and freelance writer for 35 years. He’s also an award-winning poet and novelist.