Atlanta Mayor Launches Midnight Basketball League to Fight Crime

ATLANTA, Ga. (CBS46) — On Wednesday, Atlanta Mayor Andre Dickens launched a Midnight Basketball League to help fight crime.

“You can get people out of a lot of trouble if they’re in an activity they love and people are watching, and they have games and prizes and music to go along with it. The competitive spirit will keep him indoors rather than out,” Mayor Dickens said during an interview outside the CT Martin Recreation Center.

City officials said that in organizing this league, they looked at the parameters of where crime was happening in Atlanta, who was involved, and at what times of day.

The West Atlanta league will run select nights through June with games played between 7 p.m. and 11 p.m.

Some players have suggested that this tactic could help combat the crime wave that is gripping the city.

“I come from a high crime environment so I know in this era there is crime all day, I feel like this here gives you an opportunity to get away from it,” said Tony Hines, who plays in the league.

Dickens said he was taking the approach of Chicago’s late-night basketball league to combat high crime rates.

The mayor, along with city and county leaders, announced a new tracking unit on Tuesday to prosecute repeat offenders.

Amid these efforts to curb gun violence and criminal activity, state lawmakers are moving forward with a bill to loosen gun laws.

On Wednesday, the House passed a bill allowing people to carry guns without a license.

The bill will return to the Senate for approval of minor changes before the governor can sign it into law.

CBS46 asked Mayor Dickens about the challenge of expanding crime deterrence efforts while such state bills are being heard.

“I definitely want fewer guns on the street. You see the homicide rate and aggravated assault are all linked to people with guns. And too quick access to firearms can lead to these undesirable results. So I’m here to do what I can do in the city of Atlanta, while others do what they think is best,” Dickens said.

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