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Every city has its mainstays, and those familiar with the streets of Atlanta can attest to the culture of “water boys” that hustle H2O on any given intersection.

However, it looks like many are calling for a citywide shutdown of the bottled water biz after it reportedly led to the shooting death of an 18-year-old boy last summer.

Members of the Buckhead City Committee are calling for passengers to refrain from rolling down their windows to purchase from water boys. Tomeka Pless, mother of the slain teen, says her son Jalanni was killed on 8th Street in Midtown back in June 2020 over $10 from selling a bottle of water. Together with the City Committee’s support, Pless held a press conference outside of Buckhead City Headquarters today (Dec 9) to plea for a ban to be enacted.

See why not everyone is in favor of a ban on the water boys of ATL, via 11 Alive:

“In the last year, Atlanta Police have reported multiple crimes in connection to the water sales including reports of children being hit while running in and out of traffic.  However, a youth mentoring group who’s been working to help get these teens off of the streets said a ban is not the answer.
‘It’s all about survival. That’s what we’re up against. So, banning the sell is not the answer. Creating programming that allows these young kids to come through and have some structure and some guidance with the support of these larger entities like the city and the school board is where we’ll see some positive traction,’ explained Kacey Venning, executive director of HEY! Helping Empower Youth.
Venning added that her program has been able to get about 25 teens off of the streets, but they only have enough man power to target the southwest Atlanta area.”

Many believe that a simple fix to the issue would be to make the water boys official by taking them out of the intersections and possibly setting them up in storefronts for example. The issue even made it to Atlanta’s new Mayor-elect Andre Dickens, who said in a statement,  “I am committed to working with the new city council to provide programming that gets the ‘water boys’ out of our intersections and into safe environments where they can learn technology and entrepreneurship skills that will make them productive members of our community. Putting more youth into the criminal justice system is not the solution. These young men and women need opportunities to thrive and we can accomplish that through job training, after school programs, entrepreneurship exposure, and apprenticeships.”

Let us know what you think: ban the water boys or let them live?


Atlanta “Water Boys” May Soon Come To An End Following Teen’s Murder  was originally published on

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