What was meant to decrease local gun violence has led to a new problem for the city of Atlanta and 21 Savage is at the center of it.
The Decatur, Ga., native posted on social media that folks should take up paintballs instead of real arms. He did so weeks after he paid for the funeral of 3-year-old T’Rhigi Diggs, who was shot and killed by a stray bullet as he slept in his mother’s SUV when someone decided to bring a real gun to a paintball war. Still, the Atlanta Police Department says Savage’s call has created a non-solution.
Spokeswoman Stephanie Brown told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution Thursday, May 3 that the APD has responded to 34 calls about paintball-related cases, including a significant increase in Apri.
The rapper, whose real name is Shayaa Bin Abraham-Joseph, posted videos of him online visiting Atlanta neighborhoods and spraying cars with paintballs. The push, lumped under the campaign, “paintballs up, guns down,” has apparently led to more incidents of cars, homes and public buildings being hit along with “wars” being organized on the street. The battles have sometimes resulted in bystanders being hit.
“We do not consider this a game and have been taking it very seriously,” Brown tells the newspaper. “There are venues suitable for playing appropriate paintball games. We will not tolerate this activity in public areas and we stand ready to make arrests when needed.”
And the issue isn’t just focused on Georgia. Paintball mishaps have been occurring around the country.
In Greensboro, N.C., 19-year-old Zyquarius Shalom Quadre Bradley was shot and killed April 20; USA Today reported his body was discovered next to a paintball-splattered car. Police in Milwaukee have responded to 65 reports of people being hit with paintballs in five days and in Madison, Wis., a 21-year-old man was arrested and several teenagers cited for firing paintball guns from a car and hitting three people.
Still, 21 Savage, who has experienced loss at the hands of gun violence, supports a complete ban on guns.
“That’s the easiest and simplest way to solve it,” he told The Fader in 2016. “To take everybody’s guns, not just the civilians. Take the police’s guns too.”