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After shooting death of teen, Atlanta residents demand curfew changes, other solutions

After shooting death of teen, Atlanta residents demand curfew changes, other solutions
After shooting death of teen, Atlanta residents demand curfew changes, other solutions 02:11

ATLANTA (WUPA) – Outraged Atlanta residents addressed the city council's Public Safety Committee on Monday, demanding curfew changes and solutions to gun violence against children, following the shooting death of a teenager over the weekend.

"These kids are shooting guns early, and they're dying way too early," said Warren Robinson, a resident speaking to committee members during the meeting's public comment section.

Residents are demanding a proactive approach to stopping the gun violence after 13-year-old Deshon Dubose was shot and killed near Cascade Family Skating Rink on Saturday. This is also following dozens of shootings involving children in the city over the last year.

Keith Lewis Atlanta City Council / ATL26

"Right now, the kids are running the city. The adults aren't running the city. I was out there this weekend, watching little Deshon get killed," said Keith Lewis, the founder of I'm A Father F1RST, an Atlanta-based organization working to reduce fatherless homes around the country.

Lewis went on to say that while Atlanta police and the city's public safety committee are not to blame for the shooting, the committee certainly did fall short, in his estimation. 

"I bet that mother didn't get a phone call," he said.

Robinson also accused management at the skating rink of not taking adequate action to prevent gun violence.

"Cascade Skating Rink knows violence is there every weekend they invite those young folks there. They hide the guns in the bushes," he said. "There needs to be a police escort from Cascade Skating Rink all the way to Allen Temple (Apartments on Martin Luther King Jr. Drive, east of Interstate 285)."

Residents are demanding police protection and a tighter curfew for children.

"If the curfew had been enforced, that 13-year-old would still be alive. Do the right thing," said Deerica Charles, whose son, Zyion Charles, 12, was one of two kids killed near Atlantic Station in November. "Is this our new normal, waking up, seeing kids on the news every day?"

Councilwoman Keisha Sean Waites proposed legislation to change the curfew from 11 p.m. to 7 p.m., and then to 8 p.m., following public input. However, the proposal was tabled to gather more data.

Youth advocacy groups like I'm A Father F1RST say it's going to take a lot more than a curfew.

"It's just too many guns on the street," Lewis said. "Guns, drugs, and violence are just typical in their environments, so I think we have to do our part as mentors, community leaders, and politicians to plant more people in place."

The organization is launching a youth task force. They are looking for community members, organizations, and resources to collaborate on solutions.

"I just pray that everyone actually realizes they have a role in this community," said Lewis.

For information on how to join the task force, visit the I'm A Father F1RST Facebook page.

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