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Keisha Lance Bottoms Won’t Seek Second Term as Atlanta Mayor

  • May 07, 2021

Ms. Bottoms, who served as a judge and a city councilwoman before narrowly winning election to the mayor’s office in 2017, is also blessed with a voice — measured, compassionate, slightly bruised and steeped in her experience as a Black daughter and a Black mother — that seemed uniquely calibrated to address the challenges of the past year.

It was in the aftermath of the police killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis that Ms. Bottoms went on live television and became a national star as she spoke directly to protesters. Some of their demonstrations had descended into lawlessness, with people smashing windows, spray-painting property and burning cars.

“When I saw the murder of George Floyd, I hurt like a mother would hurt,” she said. Then she scolded the protesters, insisting that they “go home” and study the precepts of nonviolence as practiced by the leaders of the civil rights movement.

Mr. Biden was one of several national figures to take notice. “We saw her stand tall and speak out during the summer of protests and pain,” the president said at the March fund-raiser.

But the challenges were numerous.

On June 12, shortly after Mr. Floyd’s death, a white Atlanta police officer fatally shot a Black man, Rayshard Brooks, in a fast-food restaurant’s parking lot. More protests and violence erupted, and the Bottoms administration fired the officer, Garrett Rolfe, a day after the shooting. (This week, the city’s Civil Service Board reinstated Officer Rolfe, who has been charged with murder, on the grounds that the administration had violated his due process rights.)

Then, one month after the shooting, Ms. Bottoms tested positive for the coronavirus and was sued by Gov. Brian Kemp, a Republican, over a city policy requiring masks and mandating restrictions that were stricter than those Mr. Kemp had set for the state.

In her letter on Thursday night, Ms. Bottoms also noted that the Atlanta government had suffered a debilitating cyberattack shortly after she took office and was under the scrutiny of federal investigators who had begun a corruption investigation during the tenure of her predecessor, Kasim Reed.

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