Ashley Smith, the former hostage who helped capture Atlanta courthouse gunman Brian Nichols, has been thanked again – this time with more than $70,000 in reward money.
As to the city of Atlanta, it got off cheap. It contributed $5,000 of the $70,000 awarded Smith. For relative chump change, it had what remained of its reputational bacon saved by someone who actually showed some presence of mind.
To anyone familiar with the race-based, save-face, inner workings of Atlanta, the whole Keystone Kops scenario – from pseudo security to manhunt mayhem – was no shock. What was truly different, however, was that the unnecessary, unconscionable and tragic deaths of a judge, a court reporter, a sheriff’s deputy and a federal agent couldn’t be covered up in the finest tradition of skewed Atlanta crime statistics.
The world watched this one. We all knew who did it – and it wasn’t Ray Lewis.
Atlanta has too long skated on its well-marketed renown as Mecca for America’s black middle class. To quote Andrew Young’s oft-repeated shibboleth, it is “The city that’s too busy to hate.”
Well, if it were ever too busy to hate, it would have been because Atlanta was preoccupied cooking the books on crime. But here were four murders – three downtown and one in Buckhead — that couldn’t be concealed from convention planners and Super Bowl task forces.
Smith, a widowed waitress in a nearby suburb, talked Nichols, in effect, into giving himself up. He put up no resistance after Smith alerted police with a 911 call.And had it not been for the “grace under fire” exhibited by Smith, Nichols quite arguably would still be on the lam.
But at least Wayne Williams remains behind bars. We believe.