News Briefs: DNA tests delayed in child murders; Bottoms and Harris promote vaccine; ABC and PEDS merge

New DNA testing of evidence in the notorious Atlanta Child Murders cases, a highly publicized effort that was supposed to begin early this year, is on hold for unexplained funding issues. Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms in 2019 announced the evidence review, as well as a City Hall memorial to the murder victims. The memorial concept has progressed through City Council review, but the DNA testing effort went quiet. The Atlanta Police Department said in January that the testing would begin within 60 days, but now says the work is on hold. “The investigation remains open and we are awaiting approval for funding to cover the DNA testing of our evidence in this case,” said Officer Steve Avery, an APD spokesperson. “Once the funding is approved, we will submit the evidence to the crime lab and move forward with the testing. We do not have a timeline, at the moment, but are hopeful we will be moving forward with this soon.” But Avery was unable to provide any information on the amount of funding needed and whose approval was required, including whether it is from APD’s internal budget or some outside source. Read more at Reporter Newspapers.

Vice President Kamala Harris speaks in Atlanta as part of the “We Can Do This” tour. (Courtesy City of Atlanta)

Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms joined Vice President Kamala Harris for a vaccine pop-up events at Historic Ebenezer Baptist Church and Clark Atlanta University on June 18 as part of the White House’s “We Can Do This” tour encouraging Americans to get the COVID-19 vaccine. “Thanks to the leadership of the Biden Administration, our vaccination program has helped get nearly 50 percent of Atlantans vaccinated, contributing to a steep decline in COVID-19 cases, hospitalizations and deaths, across all age groups,” Bottoms said. “Our work is far from over, and we are grateful for the Vice President’s commitment to ensuring everyone has access to this life-saving vaccine.”

The Atlanta Bicycle Coalition and PEDS have formally merged as of June 17. This merger comes after the two groups first entered into talks in February of this year. According to a press statement about the merger, the two organizations will gain efficiencies that will bolster advocacy to reclaim Atlanta’s streets as safe, inclusive, and thriving spaces for people to ride, walk, and roll. In 2019, the Atlanta Bicycle Coalition expanded its mission beyond bikes to include all forms of sustainable transportation, further aligning the two organization’s advocacy efforts. In 2020, PEDS served as a critical partner to the Atlanta Bicycle Coalition’s successful Vision Zero campaign, which propelled the city’s Vision Zero legislation adoption — the resolution that reduced the default speed on Atlanta’s local streets to 25 mph with the goal of zero roadway fatalities. For 25 years, PEDS led the way to prioritize pedestrians by advocating for safe sidewalks, including a campaign that urged the city to take financial responsibility for sidewalk maintenance. In the next year, the merged organization will unveil a new name in alignment with the Atlanta Bicycle Coalition’s new strategic direction. To read more about the merger, visit this link.

Collin Kelley

Collin Kelley is the editor of Atlanta Intown.