Atlanta mayor meets with Falcons, urges them to “speak hope”

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Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms has received national attention for her impassioned remarks to the city after violence erupted Friday night. CNN since has called Bottoms the Democrats’ “most important voice.”

Bottoms recently addressed the hometown Falcons at the behest of coach Dan Quinn, who asked her to give one or two ideas about how the team can help the city heal.

“We’ve got to be able to speak hope to people right now,” Bottoms said, via D. Orlando Ledbetter of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. “We’ve got to give people a belief that there is something better on the other side of all of this while recognizing their anger.”

The Falcons started a 15-person social justice committee in 2017.

“We’ve been doing a good job of trying to figure out our way as the Falcons, as the brotherhood,” Falcons linebacker Deion Jones said Thursday. “DQ has been on top it. We’ve been having open conversations with [owner] Mr. [Arthur] Blank behind us. We have the [mayor] behind us. We are still searching and hunting for a way for us, as a whole, to make an impact. . . . Also guys [are] looking for their own personal ways to help. We are coming up with a plan and we are trying to make this be the first step.”

Ahmaud Arbery, an unarmed black jogger, was shot three times and killed in Brunswick, Georgia, on Feb. 23, three months before George Floyd’s death at the hands of a former Minneapolis police officer. So the Falcons have seen it hit close to home.

But Jones said after the protesters “what we really need is action.”

“It starts with people’s willingness to learn and listen about what it’s like to be a black man in America,” Jones said. “Also, just taking action and voting. Making sure that we are holding people accountable and making sure that we are seeing the changes that we need.”