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Sheriff, officials discuss fate of First Friday

Event needs organizer, sheriff says

Monday, July 9, 2012 11:41 AM
Last updated Tuesday, Aug 7, 2012 2:00 AM
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City leaders called Monday for a group to take responsibility for First Friday or risk seeing it end as a result of last week’s shooting after the monthly downtown event.

“If no one steps up to the plate and takes charge, I feel like it should be shut down because there’s no benefit,” Sheriff Ronnie Strength said after a Monday meeting with Mayor Deke Copenhaver and several Augusta commissioners. “For it to continue, someone has to be in charge.”

Commissioners Joe Jackson and Grady Smith agreed that one of the event’s biggest obstacles is the absence of a sponsoring organization since the Downtown Development Authority gave it up in 2006.

“There’s no person right now that we as a commission can say postpone it, don’t do it anymore,” Jackson said. “People just show up now; there’s nobody putting it on.”

Friday marked the high point of violence at the downtown event, which Strength said had seen a rowdier-than-normal crowd in recent months. None of the victims was seriously injured, and the shooter remained at large Monday.

Jackson said he was surprised that juveniles were the victims of shootings after 11 p.m. because most downtown venues are not open to them at that hour, but he said a lack of police presence was not the issue.

“There were ample deputies down there,” Jackson said.

Smith contrasted First Friday with the Augusta Exchange Club Fair, where the club imposes rules on participating vendors and hires off-duty sheriff’s deputies to handle security.

“Should the taxpayers foot that bill, or should it be the downtown association, or who’s footing that bill?” Smith said. “If someone had been killed, who would have been sued?”

Still, the city shouldn’t allow criminals to end a popular event, Commissioner Bill Lockett said.

“Keep First Friday,” Lockett said. “We can’t let the criminals dictate what we do.”

A meeting planned this week with downtown business owners to decide whether they want to keep the event might be on hold because City Administrator Fred Russell and Greater Augusta Arts Council Executive Director Brenda Durant are on vacation, Commissioner Matt Aitken said.

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David Parker
7923
Points
David Parker 07/09/12 - 12:26 pm
2
1
First ! and I agree with the

First !

and I agree with the Sheriff

Willow Bailey
20603
Points
Willow Bailey 07/09/12 - 12:32 pm
2
1
I completely agree with

I completely agree with Sheriff Strength and hope something will be done to benefit the City of Augusta and downtown business owners. They seem to have created their own FF event.

slickrayder
33
Points
slickrayder 07/09/12 - 12:47 pm
5
0
first of all its a public

first of all its a public place,u cant just shut down the public. no its not a first friday event anymore,its a public gathering. but what the sheriff can and should do is patrol and after 11 pm start asking for state issued I.D. .if the curfew applies to u and u should be home ,hold them and call parents and have them picked up. if they are older they should be inside not hanging in or on sidewalks/streets. clean this up before someone has to visit their child on a cold slab.

HighSociety
1840
Points
HighSociety 07/09/12 - 12:49 pm
6
0
Can the curfew law be

Can the curfew law be changed? Can the county enforce their own curfew? The state law says midnight on weekends. I think ten is late enough for teens to be downtown without adult supervision.

Little Lamb
46405
Points
Little Lamb 07/09/12 - 01:18 pm
2
2
Profiling

Slickrayder posted:

. . . but what the sheriff can and should do is patrol; and after 11 pm start asking for state issued I.D.

If you are lawfully walking on a public sidewalk, there is no probable cause for producing papers. Even teenagers have the right to remain silent; and they should remain so. Remember, the teen curfew is midnight on Fridays and Saturdays. No, I disagree with the police asking; and citizens should refuse to produce papers (in a respectful and polite way, of course).

omnomnom
3964
Points
omnomnom 07/09/12 - 01:48 pm
4
1
LITTLE LAMB

Bloomberg's gestapo has been doing stop n' frisks on New Yorkers for the past year. Of course ACES would rather make a controversy out of banning 'Big Gulp's. Eugh. Personally, I see no problem with "profiling" minors.

slickrayder
33
Points
slickrayder 07/09/12 - 02:52 pm
4
0
little lamb ,,,,i can agree

little lamb ,,,,i can agree with u on some points.. what i mean is after cerfew hours what ever it is ,they should be able to ask and have id produced. these kids were 14 , they shouldnt have even been down there. u know as well as i do ,,, there is not a FIRST FRIDAY anymore. its a gathering of thugs. i have seen pics on facebook of FIRST FRIDAY as they call it. with kids on motorcycles with thier rear end all in the air . with grown men. thats crazy

Little Lamb
46405
Points
Little Lamb 07/09/12 - 02:52 pm
4
1
Large and in charge

From the story above:

Sheriff Ronnie Strength said he wants to see someone stand up and take over the organization of the event. “If no one steps up to the plate and takes charge, I feel like it should be shut down because there’s no benefit,” he said. “For it to continue, someone has to be in charge.”

I disagree with the sheriff. No one has to be "in charge" of merchants allowing or disallowing an organization to set up a booth or a table in front of their store once a month. Government does not have to regulate all commerce all the time.

And what in the world was Strength thinking when he said there's "no benefit" unless someone is in charge? Tell that to the restaurant owners, the bar owners, the shop owners, the street vendors. There is quite a bit of benefit to the people who pay Sheriff Strength's salary, and salaries of his staff.

Craig Spinks
817
Points
Craig Spinks 07/09/12 - 04:13 pm
7
0
Huh?

"These young thugs, they think that it's summertime and they can do whatever they want to, " Commissioner Joe Jackson opines.

Joe, if you visited some of the RCSS' schools, you'd find that young thugs have been training for years "to do whatever they want to."

So long as A-RC, RCBOE and RCSS officials are more interested in protecting their jobs than in protecting My Hometown and its residents-young and old, nothing is going to change.

KSL
131296
Points
KSL 07/09/12 - 06:53 pm
4
0
While I have serious

While I have serious problems with parents who don't lay down ground rules and enforce them with teenagers, not exluding those who are over 18 but still dependent on parents, many are putting blame on victims who happened to be in the wrong place. The real blame lies with the 2 groups who were arguing and the impaired thinking shooter.

Should I want to dine in one of the restaurants on Broad Street with teenaged sons after a night time football or baseball game, should I have to fear for our lives?

KSL
131296
Points
KSL 07/09/12 - 06:58 pm
4
1
And until the community

And until the community correctly lays the blame, there is no fix. This country needs to stop being an enabling country. We cannot afford to not take a break from it.

KSL
131296
Points
KSL 07/09/12 - 07:29 pm
3
1
So someone dislikes me or

So someone dislikes me or believes in the concept of enabling. If it is something else, step forward and express you opinion.

KSL
131296
Points
KSL 07/09/12 - 07:35 pm
3
2
This country has enabled for

This country has enabled for years. It is in trouble and needs those enabled recipients to finally step up. That includes foreign recipients of benefits American citizens are not allowed. We have been over backwards to help immigrants. When, if ever, is payback time?

RichmanA2
126
Points
RichmanA2 07/09/12 - 07:42 pm
3
1
FF isn't the problem
Unpublished

First Friday isn't the problem. Augusta has run all of the businesses out of the downtown area and out to places like the Augusta Mall, now it is all strip clubs, crappy bars, or vacated property. Augusta should be revitalizing downtown, encouraging businesses to come back downtown, not taking businesses away from it. Whats next, do away with Border Bash? Why don't they just cancel everything, bulldoze the dozen or so blocks of downtown left, and put up another walmart/ Sams club monstrosity. That'll solve the crime problem. And this city will be as boring lifeless and as charmless as possible.

RichmanA2
126
Points
RichmanA2 07/09/12 - 07:42 pm
2
0
FF isn't the problem
Unpublished

First Friday isn't the problem. Augusta has run all of the businesses out of the downtown area and out to places like the Augusta Mall, now it is all strip clubs, crappy bars, or vacated property. Augusta should be revitalizing downtown, encouraging businesses to come back downtown, not taking businesses away from it. Whats next, do away with Border Bash? Why don't they just cancel everything, bulldoze the dozen or so blocks of downtown left, and put up another walmart/ Sams club monstrosity. That'll solve the crime problem. And this city will be as boring lifeless and as charmless as possible.

KnowsMoreThanYou
51
Points
KnowsMoreThanYou 07/09/12 - 08:21 pm
0
0
Again, the problem is NOT FF

This and other recent downtown shootings happened more than two hours after the official FF cut-off time. The young people wandering around that late are pretty much the same ones who wander around downtown any other weekend looking for something to do. Sadly, this seems to be the sum total of activities for the 13-20 demographic.

The two roller skating rinks I have been able to find are way off the beaten path and away from what seems to be the only bus route. The ice rink is sort of close to the bus, but still hard to get to. One decent movieplex, again nowhere near the buses. Not much in the way of youth or community centers that don't cost a fortune (You seen the cost of a Y membership lately?).

About the only other place to go for them is a small club on a dark street that caters to the "rave/scene" kids and they sit around sneaking sex and drugs in the parking lots nearby.

I have no idea why it is so hard to come up with something better for the kids than wandering around the mall getting in trouble or hanging out downtown getting shot at. How about turning some of those empty eyesores into real activity centers?

TrukinRanger
1748
Points
TrukinRanger 07/10/12 - 06:41 am
0
0
Commissioner Jackson is
Unpublished

Commissioner Jackson is surprised that they were young? Why? Seems like the young crowds are causing just as much trouble as the adult crowds. They're looking to have someone "in charge" of the event so they can turn around and blame them for anything that goes wrong. What organization, outside of the government, would take on that responsibility? None. I've been down there for FF and there are police out and about- but seems like the majority of them group together at certain intersections with a few patrols. After a certain hour they should spread out in groups of 2 or 3 and make their presence more known.

slickrayder
33
Points
slickrayder 07/10/12 - 06:46 am
1
0
ALL OF U MAKE GREAT POINTS,

ALL OF U MAKE GREAT POINTS, THERE ISNT ALOT FOR THESE KIDS AND YOUNG ADULTS TO DO . BUT U HAVE TO LOOK ,, IN THE PAST WHEN THEY OPENED UP TEEN CENTERS ,SKATING RINKS ,MOVIE HOUSES. THEY GOT TURNED INTO A SHOOTING RANGE. IT ALL COMES BACK TO ONE THING . HOW THESE KIDS ARE BEING RAISED . TAKE OFF THE HANDCUFFS AND AND LET PARENTS HANDLE THEIR KIDS LIKE THE OLD DAYS

jstatxpyr
13
Points
jstatxpyr 07/10/12 - 07:52 am
1
0
hmmm

The young girl made of reference of "kings" then soon after the police said this probably isn't gang related...quick search from 2010 revealed this..http://chronicle.augusta.com/news/crime-courts/2010-03-20/loose-gang-structure-complicates-augusta-count
with the Kings referenced..better wake up.

David Parker
7923
Points
David Parker 07/10/12 - 09:18 am
2
0
The Latin "Kings" are so

The Latin "Kings" are so established and widespread, i figured it was a forgone conclusion that they have a chapter in Augusta or at least a few connections to the one in Atlanta.

lifelongresident
1323
Points
lifelongresident 07/10/12 - 12:58 pm
0
0
what we are all missing the
Unpublished

what we are all missing the business owners should not be called out on this matter, it is a failure of the criminal justice/social welfare system. when caught the criminals will be thugs known to the system, from welfare homes, with single parent households (women) and the "daddie" will be no where to be found. chances are to find the mother of these animals one will only have to look no further than "da nearest club". i ask time and time again, where are the local religious/civil right leaders??? better yet where are the "just-us bruthas" al sharpton and jessie jackson??? if the shooter was white they would be killing themselves getting to augusta to speak a local churches regarding the "evil and racist white man" the local churches will be filled to the brim with attendees an the collection plates will be over-flowing with cash as the "passa's" preaches to the congregation the need for "gubment" to do something about the racist/racism/racist that is "killin ours peeples", there will be marches to the mayors and the sheriff offices with signs and shouts of "no justus, no peace" with the local church leaders on the front page of the augusta chronicle showing them with bullhorns leading the way but since the shooters are black and the victims are black (at least the ones shown) there is no money to be made by the "just-us bruthas" or the local religious/civil rights leaders to they remain silent and out of sight...waiting for the next "trayvonn" moment

Craig Spinks
817
Points
Craig Spinks 07/10/12 - 04:27 pm
1
0
Vacation?

If one vacationer wants his job and the other First Friday, both had best get back in town for the meeting planned with downtown business owners by city officials, it would seem to me.

jmo
16251
Points
jmo 07/10/12 - 07:55 pm
0
0
Shut it down.

They win. Then shoot them.

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