The city of Atlanta, Georgia, came down hard on a large group of street racers doing donuts and burnouts on Spring Street in Midtown. Several police agencies converged to stop the nightly mayhem caused by street racing. Police broke into groups that set up at popular racing locations to make the arrests. Cops were able to arrest 44 street racers, issued 114 citations, and impounded 29 cars. The arrests were for charges like “laying drag,” speeding, reckless driving, driving on a suspended license, and driving under the influence.
44 arrests were made for drugs, guns-including a semi-automatic weapon, and miscellaneous charges
Besides those car-related charges, Atlanta’s WSB-TV reported there were arrests made for drugs, guns-including a semi-automatic weapon, and miscellaneous charges. Five of those arrested are teenagers. One felon who was arrested had a firearm.
The coronavirus lockdown has emptied streets and kept businesses closed. That means empty streets and no pedestrians. So the nightly street racing activity has increased substantially under these conditions. Social media has made it easy to organize these races and locations.
One recent out of control Atlanta street racer gathering included fireworks
Videos of recent races are posted to help increase interest. One recent gathering at a closed mall parking lot included fireworks. Combined with the empty streets and a bit of boredom with everything closed, including drag strips, street racing offers something to see and do with like-minded individuals. The mayhem has increased in Atlanta substantially.
“This isn’t new,” a spokesman for the Atlanta police said. “But what the pandemic did was create a perfect storm where you have young people who are bored; their usual outlets — shopping, hanging out in a park — those were all eliminated by the stay-at-home orders.”
Street racing increases when drag strips are closed down
It has been effectively shown that street racing increases when drag strips are closed down or removed for urban sprawl. The problem is relatively common but the solution is not because of the noise, smoke, and property costs that make it mostly prohibitive to create venues.
Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms recently suggested an area on closed public streets set up for drag racing. Many locals have expressed positive responses to the idea but so far nothing has happened. To do that concrete barriers, oversight, and a police and safety contingent would need to be present which adds to budgets and costs. To that end, a Change.org petition has been established.
While some Atlanta residents are happy about police actions, others say the police haven’t done anything about the problem. The “need for speed” will not go away so the city has to address it with solid solutions. Otherwise, racers will just find other places to race with the inevitable consequences beyond a ticket or arrest.
The Chief of Police for Atlanta says the police are only beginning
The Chief of Police for Atlanta says the police are only beginning. “We pledged to deal with these speeders and reckless drivers who have shown a complete disregard for the safety of others with these dangerous antics,” Erika Shields said.
Last year two men were killed in Atlanta when a racer slammed into the car they were driving in. They were innocent victims that had no part of the racing that night. So street racing wounds in Atlanta are still fresh.