Locals question if prosecutors can hold 'Young Slime Life' gang responsible for 80% of Atlanta's violent crime

Young Thug performs at the Lollapalooza Music Festival in Chicago on Aug. 1, 2021. The rapper, alongside fellow Atlanta rapper Gunna and two dozen others, was indicted earlier this month in relation to alleged street gang activities. (Photo by Amy Harris/Invision/AP)

When Fulton District Attorney Fani Willis announced the high-profile indictments of rappers Young Thug, Gunna, and some two dozen others in early May, she made a bold accusation. Willis said the suspects, said to be affiliated with the criminal street gang Young Slime Life, are responsible for up to 80 percent of Atlanta’s violent crime.

Legal analysts, reporters and others who have been following the case are questioning Willis’s figure.

The Atlanta Objective publisher George Chidi joined WABE’s “Closer Look” host Rose Scott to discuss the Y.S.L. backstory, and mentioned that even though any violent crime percentage is too high, that 80 percent seems “overblown.”

“In part because I want to see the numbers from the Fulton District Attorney’s office, like the specific cases that they can use to substantiate that,” Chidi said.

The high-profile indictments include racketeering —  violating Georgia’s RICO Act. RICO is the acronym often used to describe the law against racketeering: It stands for ‘Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations.’ It’s a way to hold people accountable for influencing criminal activity —  even if they don’t pull the proverbial trigger.

Legal analyst Page Pate also told WABE’s “All Things” Considered’ that the 80 percent crime statistic surprised him. Pate also said the case is in for a winding legal battle, particularly because it seems as if Willis’ office is using mentions of Y.S.L. in the rappers’ music and social media pages against them.

“The state’s trying to prove not that Young Thug went out and committed a bunch of robberies and a bunch of aggravated assaults, but that he was the organizer of a group of people, some of whom did those things,” Pate said. “I think it’s a stretch. But that’s what she’s trying to prove.”

Lily Oppenheimer contributed to this report.