The Boot Girls vs Everybody + other Atlanta news
There are no boring news weeks in Atlanta
Welcome to my newsletter by me, King Williams. A documentary filmmaker, journalist, podcast host, and author based in Atlanta, Georgia. This is a newsletter covering the hidden connections of Atlanta to everything else.
The Cumberland Transit Center site feasibility study is next Thursday, June 1st.
Alpharetta Brew Moon Fest will be Saturday, June 3rd.
DeKalb County-centered news org Decaturish is hosting an online membership drive between now and June 30th, and you can sign up here.
Red Clay News
1. ‘The Boot Girls’ vs local towing companies is heating up
‘The Boot Girls,’ two young women using social media to help people remove boots from cars, are causing an uproar within the Atlanta business community. Utilizing Instagram and TikTok.
Christian Verrette, the man who started the trend
The idea started with another local Atlanta man, Christian Verrette, who decided to make copies of several master keys of boot companies. Verrette, according to his admission, found a way to purchase the key and equipment to manufacture more. Verrette does not charge to remove a boot and advocates for the law to ban boots altogether. Verette does, however, charge for key copies to be made.
He claims he has the same keys as the four largest booting manufacturers. He also claims to have made over $50,000 in a single week selling the keys.
Atlanta’s latest social media stars, ‘The Boot Girls’
Another duo is gaining virality and unrequited attention for their boot services. The Boot Girls, a twenty-something duo of ‘Boot Baby’ and ‘Boot Sheisty.’ Boot Baby and Boot Sheisty operate anonymously, their faces are always covered, and their names are hidden. The duo often moves in different vehicles daily to avoid being made out by local booting companies. Since their arrival on the scene, local Atlanta drivers have come to love them, while rival businesses are starting to see a threat.
The duo operates mostly in wealthier areas of the city, Buckhead and Midtown, claiming they average about 20 removed boots daily. How the Boot Girls got the key is a case of a shifting story. According to a recent 107.9 interview, the women said they bought a key from a man who already works for an unidentified booting company.
The online numbers are rising
The duo has quickly risen in popularity in the city among younger millennials as their boot removal services have made them a rising social media phenomenon. The pair utilize TikTok and Instagram as the primary means of communication.
As of this publication, the duo has about 47,000 followers on Instagram and over 2.1 million views of their videos. While on TikTok, they have nearly 60,000 followers, approaching 11 million views. Regarding awareness, the growing account has dwarfed that of Atlanta’s biggest booting/towing services, such as Empire Parking Services. Atow, and Advance Booting Services.
Not everyone is happy with the Boot Girls
All of the encounters have not been welcomed. As a recent viral video with a member of a rival towing company showed. In the video, the women are engaged in a serious verbal altercation, including shoving with one parking lot employee. And according to both women, they have had testy encounters with parking lot attendants. The duo both state that their families are concerned for their safety, but for now, they will continue as there is a need in Atlanta. The duo is now also represented by a lawyer, Danny Nagel, who is also the legal rep for Christian Verrette.
Is any of this legal?
In short, yes. It is not against the law to remove a boot from a private location as long as it’s not damaged or property destroyed. It’s also not illegal for an individual to have a key. Unlike the towing industry, which has a set of rules and regulations, booting is mostly left up to a local municipality and the private businesses that set the terms. APD has since posted a warning regarding those with boot keys on its Facebook page.
In 2018, the city of Atlanta approved legislation about signage and rules for booting, including capping fees at $75. But for those caught with a boot in on the borderline of the city in places like Brookhaven, unincorporated Atlanta, or DeKalb, the fees can be substantially higher.
Earlier this year, a bipartisan bill in the statehouse stalled to ban boots on cars. The bill's author, Sandy Springs state senator Josh McLaurin (SD-14) seeks to move towards a model based on fines and ticketing. Like the Boot Girls and Verette, McLaurin agrees that booting is predatory. All three parties also cite the nature of predatory fees, a 24-hour window, and slow response times regarding those getting booted. In addition, all three parties directly refer to the potential lack of funds for those who recently received boots as a reason for concern.
2. The state Board of Education strips ‘woke’ diversity language from teacher training
Conservative-led culture wars and anti-intellectualism continues. The Georgia Professional Standards Board has unanimously voted to remove the mention of diversity from the statewide rules for teacher training. The Governor selects the board and is a reflection of the ideological bent. The board is responsible for the certifications and standards for teachers, librarians, and school counselors.
Like all Republican-led educational initiatives, the move signals that Georgia is moving hard to the right. Governor Kemp’s appointed educational body has created an even more ideologically conservative group. This includes the selection of former Georgia Governor Sonny Perdue, a man with zero higher education experience. Perdue recently sat down with WABE’s Rose Scott to talk about higher ed in Georgia, including the $66 million cut from the system led by Lt. Governor Burt Jones.
While earlier this spring, Lt. Governor Burt Jones (an election denier) also singled out diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) programs in all Georgia schools. Jones referenced several conservative-instigated incidents on college campuses in an earlier statement following the national Republican-led rollback on the programs. Jones cited a 1940 document from the American Association of University Professors in his reasoning. It must be noted that white men wrote the organization, that period, and the document in an education system that excluded black students and women. That document's ‘free speech’ standards are for the protected speech of white professors and/or those in leadership positions. Another national conservative trend.
3. The Tara Theater reopened yesterday
Beloved indie film theater Tara Cinemas reopened yesterday. The theater originally opened in 1968 before becoming a covid-era casualty as its then parent company, Regal Cinemas, shut the theater down. That led to it being bought in late 2022 by the same ownership group as the much beloved Plaza Theater Atlanta on Ponce. The theater, known for indie films, is set to enter a newer film industry more reliant on mainstream blockbusters for success as indie films have mostly moved to streaming. Additionally, after a successful fall fundraising campaign, the theater has left a permanent donation option for those who want to continue donating to that effort.
4. DeKalb County Commissioner Steve Bradshaw announces he is running for County CEO
DeKalb County Commissioner Steve Bradshaw has entered the ring to become the next CEO of DeKalb County. Bradshaw, the first to announce, is likely to run against one of his fellow commissioners and whomever else joins the race. The CEO position comes at a crucial time as the county faces a leadership position that’s been mostly stable in the tenure of current CEO Michael Thurmond after a rather chaotic last 20 years.
5. Georgia Power raising bills another 12%
Georgia Power has been given the okay to increase rates by another 12%. —The Georgia Public Service Commission voted unanimously Tuesday to increase electric bills by 12%, allowing Georgia Power to collect an additional $6.6 billion from its roughly 2.7 million customers over the next three years. That will increase bills by another $16 a month starting in June.
Other red clay news
Senator Jon Ossoff is investigating incidents at Clayton and Fulton County jails.
The Baltimore Orioles are looking at Truist Park as a model of redevelopment for Camden Yards, its own 1990s transformative baseball stadium.
The city of Smyrna has unveiled four finalists for its Fanny Williams memorial.
The Interlock on the Westside has been sold for $215m.
The Blank Foundation has recently passed a milestone of over $1 billion in donations. The foundation has been donating since the 1990s.
CDC Director Rochelle Walensky is stepping down.
Ryan Cameron is entering radio syndication for the first time.
The Juniper Complete Street Project is set to begin in Midtown. It will preserve the historic trolley tracks buried underneath the road.
Electric Owl Studio, a LEED Gold-certified building, will open in June.
State tax revenue is down 16.5% compared to a year ago to the governor’s office
Tucker will takeover its public works from DeKalb County on July 1st.
More off-duty APD officers are patrolling Buckhead.
Atlanta is buying 46 acres of South River Forest for future parks.
An Atlanta journalist is suing the city after being arrested while covering the ‘Cop City’ protests earlier this year.
A new autopsy released that a man who died in a bug-infested Fulton County jail cell was due to ‘severe neglect.’
Three former Camden County Sheriff’s Department officers who beat an inmate on camera have been indicted.
The city of Columbus has one of the highest rates of STIs (STDs) in the nation, beating Atlanta, according to a new report.
A new suburban-styled Publix is coming to the intersection of Freedom Parkway.
-I want to give a special shoutout to Kelechi, my lil sis, who got married over the weekend.