“This is not something I woke up and decided yesterday, this is something I’ve been thinking about for a very long time,” she told a news conference a day after announcing her decision in a letter https://twitter.com/KeishaBottoms/status/1390494737967235074 she shared on Twitter.
Bottoms, 51, was elected mayor in 2017 and is the second Black woman to lead the city. An early supporter of President Joe Biden who was considered as his possible running mate, she was on the frontlines of two of the country’s greatest challenges over the past year.
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Atlanta was riven by protests over George Floyd’s death in May last year, and the city was a hotspot in the Covid-19 pandemic.
“The last three years have not been at all what I expected for our city,” Bottoms said, citing a cyber attack that crippled the city in 2018 as well as the pandemic and the movement spurred by the death of Floyd, a Black man killed during a police arrest in Minneapolis.
Bottoms was widely praised for her passionate televised news conference following Floyd’s death, addressing protesters in her city directly in a message of empathy over racial discrimination. She then urged them to “go home” and study the nonviolence measures followed by civil rights icons.
But she faced criticism shortly after, when Rayshard Brooks, another Black man, was shot and killed by Atlanta police in June. Bottoms had said the city’s police procedures would be reviewed in the wake of Floyd’s death.
On Wednesday, the city reinstated the police officer who shot Brooks and was fired by Bottoms, with the Atlanta Civil Service Board saying she dismissed the officer, who is white, without a hearing and failed to follow procedures.
On Friday, Bottoms did now say what she plans when her term ends early next year.
“I don’t know what’s next for me personally,” she said.