The word “vigilante” has a negative connotation. However, Merriam-Webster says the word is of Spanish origin and means watchman or guard. Call the “Boot Girls” in Atlanta vigilantes if you want, because it seems apt: these two women are on a mission to remove boots from cars in their city.
Boots, those annoying, clunky metal devices that clamp onto one of your wheels and prevent the car from moving, are becoming a point of contention in Georgia’s capital city. Some residents are frustrated with what they say is excessive booting, and they’re finding ways around it.
After experiencing the placement of a land anchor themselves, the balaclava-wearing Boot Girls (Boot Baby and Boot Sheisty) obtained a boot key from someone who manufactured the tool, NPR reports. Then they started offering their boot removal services for $50 each, and they (and others using the “boot girls” theme) seem to take orders via text and Instagram through referrals as word spreads.
Parking companies, private property, and private booting companies are vexed about this turn of events, and the City of Atlanta police department is clear about how it feels about freelance boot removal.
“While owning a boot key is not illegal, here is what the public needs to know,” reads the department’s Facebook page. “If you use a Boot Key to modify, tamper, or disengage a booting device from a vehicle, you can be charged with: Criminal Trespass, and/or Theft of Services, and/orTheft by Taking, and/or Damage to Property 2nd Degree.”
Unsurprisingly, lawmakers are divided. Georgia State Senator Josh McLaurin introduced a bill that would have banned booting, but it didn’t advance. He hasn’t given up and plans to call for it again in the next session, advocating for paper tickets, controlled access, and towing as alternatives.
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