Atlanta, Georgia – In a bold move that shows how public safety is changing in Atlanta, Council Member Antonio Lewis has suggested a controversial ban on ski masks and other face coverings. He says the main goal is to reduce crime. Coming about after the COVID-19 pandemic, when more people wore different kinds of face coverings, this effort is a big change in how the city handles public safety.
Lewis, who was born and raised in Atlanta and is 6 feet 2 inches tall, is used to hearing people worry about safety in his neighborhood.
“As a 6-foot-2-inch-tall Black man, I am never the target, but I am always thinking about my wife and auntie,” Lewis expressed during a visit to a local barbershop in southeast Atlanta, a place he regards as a second home. It was in this familiar setting where Lewis first shared his idea of banning ski masks as a measure to curb crime in the city.
The idea comes from personal stories and comments from the community.
“I get calls from parents, sisters, and brothers, who have lost loved ones from people who had on ski masks, and we could stop it ‘cause it was on camera,” Lewis explained, highlighting the link between masked offenders and violent crimes in Atlanta.
On the other hand, not everyone agrees with the suggested ban. Some people say that this kind of action would violate people’s rights, especially the right to free speech. In response to these worries, Lewis showed FOX 5 how criminals often hide their names while doing illegal things by wearing hoodies and masks.
“I know a lot of people will say, ‘Man, you are disenfranchising people.’ I am governing. Sometimes we have to govern,” Lewis said firmly.
When writing the law, Lewis looks at similar laws that have been passed in other places, like Philadelphia, which just passed a similar ban. He agrees that the final form of the law will have some exceptions, but these haven’t been spelled out yet.
In an interesting turn of events, Lewis agrees with some Republicans on this problem, such as Governor Brian Kemp. Both have pushed for ski masks to be banned, but Lewis says that his position is not about limiting people’s rights to protest or speak out, but about taking sensible steps to keep everyone safe.
“Me and [Gov.] Brian Kemp are on the same page with carrying guns, and we’re on the same page in banning ski masks. This has nothing to do with protesting,” he said.
Lewis is still hopeful that he can get his council colleagues to support the bill as it continues to take shape. Even though the proposed ban is controversial, he thinks it is important to make Atlanta safer. This idea could be a big step forward in the city’s fight against crime because it is based on practical answers and is driven by the community.