Mayor Johnson discusses recent shootings, COVID spike, The Weeping Time

Local News

SAVANNAH, Ga. (WSAV) — As shootings continue to pile up in the Hostess City and COVID infections rise, Mayor Van Johnson reiterated Tuesday that “all options are on the table.”

“Transparency is the key in a situation like this … to come to a determination of what actually happened,” Johnson said of the officer-involved shooting Saturday night. Johnson called on residents to avoid spouting rumors and speculate on the situation.

“Speculation and conspiracy theories are dangerous and they’re reckless and they’re irresponsible. On all sides,” Johnson said. He also said some at the scene had not actually seen the incident unfold and instead were at the scene to fan flames.

Johnson also spoke on the shooting Monday night that injured three, saying it follows a trend of gun violence in the Hostess City. The mayor said the individuals had some conflict with each other and turned to guns to address it.

He reiterated his stance that communities need to get involved in addressing gun violence and said the city plans to engage faith leaders and formal offenders to help respond.

“If we can’t stop the first one, maybe we can stop the next one,” he said.

Watch the mayor’s full press conference:

COVID-19 infections continue to rise in Chatham County, mirroring cases numbers and hospitalizations seen in March. Currently, the community transmission index — which counts the number of cases per 100,000 residents in the past two weeks — is on a sharp incline, sitting at 139. It was at 111 on July 15.

Johnson said he’s monitoring the numbers with health officials and will act if trends continue.

At last week’s press conference, he said mask mandates and capacity limits would be reinstated if the science supported them, but he did not announce any new restrictions Tuesday.

“Something’s going to have to happen, change,” Johnson said. “I’m not sure where or how, and again, I’m not going to trust myself to make that decision. I’m going to rely on our health professionals; they’ve done us well so far.”

On Monday, the city of Savannah released phase 1 of a city-commissioned survey that claims the proposed site of a new transitional home is not located on the site of The Weeping Time slave auction. The slave auction was the largest in U.S. history.

Johnson said, however, he would like to memorialize The Weeping Time site in some way. He said The Weeping Time site is not on city property but sits on private property, state and school board property.

“In a city of history, history counts,” Johnson said. “And in a city of history, if it’s not the site where the sale occurred; then we shouldn’t be saying it was the site where the sale occurred.”

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