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Augusta activist Woody Merry cuts down tree he says was starting point for Harrisburg drug deals

Monday, Nov. 5, 2012 1:55 PM
Last updated Tuesday, Nov. 6, 2012 1:55 AM
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With a chain saw and spray paint in hand, community activist Woody Merry on Monday morning sent a message to drug dealers and gang members that they are not welcome in Harrisburg neighborhood.

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Woody Merry paints "GOT COPS", an acronym for "Get out of town; citizens on patrol surveillance," over gang graffiti in Harrisburg. He also removed a tree that he said was the starting point for drug transactions.  MICHAEL HOLAHAN/STAFF
MICHAEL HOLAHAN/STAFF
Woody Merry paints "GOT COPS", an acronym for "Get out of town; citizens on patrol surveillance," over gang graffiti in Harrisburg. He also removed a tree that he said was the starting point for drug transactions.


Merry, who held a community breakfast Oct. 25 to renew cleanup efforts and crime prevention in Harrisburg, removed a Bradford pear tree Monday that he said was the starting point for drug transactions.

“They’ve got a great system but we just threw a big old kink in it,” Merry said.

Drug dealers would stand beneath the tree on the edge of the parking lot of the Corner Store, a convenience store on Eve Street, and accept money from buyers, Merry said. The transactions were completed behind a trailer that’s blocked from street view where plastic bags litter the ground, he said.

“Nobody’s challenging these guys on the streets,” he said.

Merry said he learned about the “drug tree” and several meeting spots for gangs from concerned residents. Using black spray paint, Merry painted over gang signs on abandoned buildings and sidewalks with the words “GOT COPS,” an acronym for “Get out of town; citizens on patrol surveillance.”

Lori Davis, a past president of the Harrisburg West End Neighborhood Association, said the tree, about a half-mile from her house, needed to come down. Lamar-Milledge Elementary School opened in August across the street from the tree, and the surrounding area wasn’t cleaned up, she said.

“I rarely frequent this street day or night,” Davis said. “It’s like a gantlet coming through drug dealing and what not.”

In 2009, Davis and other activists staged a July 4 march through Harrisburg to protest nuisance properties and landlords they say tolerated illegal activity by tenants. Davis contended Monday that little progress has occurred since then because of a lack of support from the Augusta Commission and the Downtown Development Authority.

Merry’s group, CSRA Help, has installed security cameras around Harrisburg using money from a community breakfast. On Saturday, a free self-defense class will be offered at Harrisburg Family Life Center on Fenwick Street, he said.

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Insider Information
4009
Points
Insider Information 11/05/12 - 02:12 pm
16
3
This is the leadership that

This is the leadership that our city desperately needs. They see a problem, and they chop it down.

Deke, please follow their leadership and lead our city.

allhans
24554
Points
allhans 11/05/12 - 02:37 pm
8
0
Deke?

Deke?

razordog
195
Points
razordog 11/05/12 - 02:57 pm
9
0
Agree with Insider Information...

When's the next mayor's election??? :-) hehehe

countyman
21303
Points
countyman 11/05/12 - 03:35 pm
4
8
I love the idea of cameras in

I love the idea of cameras in the urban core of Augusta. Kudos to the residents of Harrisburg, and I'm hoping they can work together with the programs offered at the Kroc Center.

Razordog. It won't matter because Deke already won the previous two elections with over 60% of the vote. The majority of people can see the progress($40 million ADP: $30 million T-Mobile: Rural Sourcing: $172 million Starbucks: $115 million Rockwood: $18-$21 million Costco: renovated Sams Club: multiple new hotels: $100 million Kroc Center: Carmax: Walmart neighborhood market on 15th: Fresh Market expansion: demolishing of Gilbert Manor/Undewood = $76 million Medical Commons/$112 million dental school/$30 million Walton Oaks, Walmart on Wrightsboro, etc.

The Jimmie Dyess/Belair rd/Gordon Hwy(btw Jimmie Dyess/Grovetown) area of Southwest Augusta is growing extremely fast. New homes in Elderberry/Granite Hill, 200 acre Haynes Station, 62 acre Mccoys Creek, 25 acre shopping center/10k sq. ft. Shoppes at Dyess Park on Jimmie Dyess & 13 acre shopping center/1 acre commercial/Circle K on Gordon Hwy. Thanks Deke!

Frank I
1203
Points
Frank I 11/05/12 - 04:30 pm
7
0
You're right Countyman

it doesn't matter, because Deke is term limited.. Yes, the majority of the people, even Harrisburg can look around the city/county and see the progress.. but the people in Harrisburg (and those connected to them) see how Harrisburg is being looked over and the safety of the residents is in dire straits. Kudo's to the steps Mr. Merry and company are taking to take back their neighborhood..

Gage Creed
18926
Points
Gage Creed 11/05/12 - 06:18 pm
11
2
Superman and Clarke

Superman and Clarke Kent.....Roundtree and Grateful mother..........Countyman and Deke?

Insider Information
4009
Points
Insider Information 11/05/12 - 11:30 pm
7
1
@ Gage

Shhhhhh..... it's a secret.

Retired Army
17512
Points
Retired Army 11/06/12 - 12:03 am
7
1
Ruckus
467
Points
Ruckus 11/06/12 - 12:50 am
7
0
DEKE ?? (County Commissioner)

Augusta Commission and the Downtown Development Authority are the ones that should be passing the ordinace and did'nt follow up. These guys are only interested in lining their pockets not bad neighborhoods. Whos district is it anyway ??? This is why we put some of these sorry commioners in office is to help clean up their district but instead it becomes business deals and close door discussions. So dont blame the mayor!!!

Riverman1
90849
Points
Riverman1 11/06/12 - 05:03 am
15
2
Raining on the Parade

Let me be the one to rain on the parade. Cutting down and old and beautiful tree (Admittedly, I've never seen this tree) is hardly the answer. That's saying if I can't see it, it's not happening. Nothing is stopped, it's only done in another manner.

People congregate under trees in many towns and cities without dealing drugs. I am reminded of the SC town on Hwy 78 where black men gather daily to play cards in a historic tradition. What you have done is alienate many residents who liked that tree and told them you don't care if they did.

The proper response would have been to stop the wrong doing under the tree and replace it with a community oriented police officer getting to know everyone and discouraging illegal drugs for awhile. That tree did nothing. The draw of the meeting place it seemed to be could have been used for good.

spotted_assassin
67
Points
spotted_assassin 11/06/12 - 05:12 am
8
0
GOT COPS?

So instead of just painting over the gang signs to totally remove them, he adds more ugly graffiti? What sense does that make? I swear, sometimes I think Augusta's politicians and activist OVERTHINK a lot of things!

smartasugarsugar
139
Points
smartasugarsugar 11/06/12 - 05:42 am
8
0
cutting down tree's is the answer?

i have two problems with this.

we need tree's

if the police know it's a drug hangout then finding the users should be fairly easy. now you have to go look for them. duh

also cudos!! riverman1

Tullie
2930
Points
Tullie 11/06/12 - 06:10 am
9
0
Harrisburg Neighborhood

It is very easy for people to make suggestions and state the obvious when you are reading a newspaper article.

I have to hand to Lori Davis and the other people in the Harrisburg neighborhood. They did not leave their neighborhood and then talk about how bad it is there. They stayed and are fighting to keep it safer.

If more people would actually get out and do something as these people are trying to do..maybe something could get done around here.

soapy_725
43965
Points
soapy_725 11/06/12 - 07:26 am
0
0
Zeal without wisdom
Unpublished

St Paul killed Christian in his zeal to please God. The RCSO is the group giving guns, deadly force authority and paychecks to stop crime in ARC. The taxpaying law abiding citizens are not supposed to take the law into their own hand, right. This is America, right. We are a nation of laws, right.

ARC is a growing third world country. A Detroit MI. Get out while you can, right. Get out while you can salvage the equity in your home. Get out before the property taxes are more than the mortgage. It will happen.

soapy_725
43965
Points
soapy_725 11/06/12 - 07:39 am
0
0
Harrisburg is a focal point, a poster boy
Unpublished

Harrisburg has a rich history of hardworking mill families. Of God fearing neighbors who looked out for each other.

The present reality is one of a third world country. Look at what the neighborhood attracts. That is the key. Who feels at home in Harrisburg? Whether it is government housing or Section 8 tenants or soup kitchens or homeless shelters or absentee owners or trash alleys or vagrants or one stop entitlement distribution facilities. This is what "progress" means in Harrisburg?

Harrisburg caters to the element it claims to want to dispossess. It is the roach motel. Maybe this is why the RCSO doesn't concentrate on this neighborhood.

You must make the roaches uncomfortable. Traps, poison and a lot of light. A lot of blue lights flashing. Even roaches get the message of where they are not welcome.

If you are looking for more than a CSI clean up crew from RCSO, "fah get about it". The beat goes on.

paulwheeler
137
Points
paulwheeler 11/06/12 - 07:56 am
5
0
The tree

Who owned the tree? Did Merry have permission from the owner to cut down this tree? Was it a city tree?

justthefacts
24082
Points
justthefacts 11/06/12 - 07:59 am
6
0
Trees

Like Paul above, can somebody just cut down a tree they don't like. Anywhere??

seenitB4
93940
Points
seenitB4 11/06/12 - 08:05 am
2
2
A Tree

jtf....If the tree does wrong .....causes trouble for everyone around...then that tree can be killed......but we just don't know about this tree because we didn't have a trial.....maybe the tree was falsely accused....heh...that happens sometimes....

Making a funny....But good luck to the folks in this neighborhood...i know you are trying to keep crime at bay....again good luck!

justthefacts
24082
Points
justthefacts 11/06/12 - 08:35 am
5
0
Tree done no wrong

Seems the tree was a victim. Must have been old.

rmwhitley
5547
Points
rmwhitley 11/06/12 - 08:39 am
0
0
The local
Unpublished

gubmint will find him in contempt, fine him and turn the money over to the gangs to buy more paint. God save us from someone being so unpolitically correct.

tgentry
234
Points
tgentry 11/06/12 - 08:47 am
2
0
Tullie Great Post. I totally

Tullie Great Post. I totally agree.

nanowerx
1359
Points
nanowerx 11/06/12 - 09:30 am
4
0
This is a joke...right?

If these people think chopping down a tree is going to stop drug dealing then I have a bridge in Alaska to sell them on.

"Oh no, our favorite spot to deal is now gone, guess we should just throw these drugs away and become productive members of society!" -said Nobody, ever.

allhans
24554
Points
allhans 11/06/12 - 10:45 am
3
0
Bradford Pears have a short

Bradford Pears have a short life span..I had 4 cut down just this spring. Beautiful until they grow up....

kiwiinamerica
969
Points
kiwiinamerica 11/06/12 - 11:15 am
0
0
He shoulda used the chainsaw
Unpublished

He shoulda used the chainsaw on the human detritus peddling crack and smack and left the tree where it was.

myparrot
18
Points
myparrot 11/06/12 - 11:31 am
1
0
Area needs Help

The area has had two shootings in three days, something needs to be done. They tear down housing take homes in these areas make them section 8 and you never know who is moving in. Not saying everyone living in these areas is bad, but you have heard all the stuff about cherry tree crossing. Where will they go? Our street was very quiet until the older people started either moving to senior housing or died; real estate people purchase the homes and move in anyone. They play loud music, stand outside scream and fighting, don’t take care of the property and the landlords don’t care they do not live next to them. I have seen the police parked in parking lots on Fenwick, what does that do? There is no way we can move due to the fact you could not get anything for your home you paid Thirty years on. Many are scared to go out in the evening to even sit on the porch. Our commissioner lives on Telfair street downtown, not Harrisburg. We need someone from Harrisburg in there, who understands the issues here. Then maybe something would be done.
I thought Wal-Mart bought property on Fifteenth St and building there. Wal-Mart could buy more property behind it to build parking and that would get rid of some abandon houses. MCG could expand in that area, if the houses are gone there is no place for the drug dealers to hang. They are tearing these empty homes up to do drugs and sell them.
Something needs to be done; it is only going to get worse otherwise.

joe community
8
Points
joe community 11/06/12 - 12:03 pm
3
0
Logic....

I guess they will now meet at the stump.

...if this is the philosophy, I guess there is minimal to NO crime in our western states???!!!???

Sweet son
11104
Points
Sweet son 11/06/12 - 12:31 pm
2
1
Hey Riverman

Is the location of the guys playing cards on the way to Hilton Head from here? If so I know exactly where you are talking about and when we passed I always told my wife just put me out and pick me up in a week!! LOL! :)

Fiat_Lux
16246
Points
Fiat_Lux 11/06/12 - 01:22 pm
3
0
Hope they plant another, better tree there

The way to deal with people hanging out to sell drugs is to have a police officer drive by on an irregular but frequent basis, and stop, step out with a camera and just stand around under the tree (or wherever, but right next to the money changers). Snap the picture of everyone who comes up and "shakes hands" with said money changer. Look at it all closely. Document, document, document.

And then follow the buyer back to the pay off hut.

These businessmen tend to go away when business gets bad, and boy, would snapping pictures of buyers be bad for business.

dixieshicksa
50
Points
dixieshicksa 11/06/12 - 02:04 pm
2
3
The Hooded Horticultural Hero of Harrisburg!!

There's Woody (BRADFORD W.) Merry chopping down a BRADFORD pear tree (oh, the irony), sporting a gun, a chain saw, and a can of spray paint. Heck, slap a hoodie on him and he could pass for one of the thugs in whose heart he's attempting to strike terror. Are hedges, shrubbery, and tall grass his next targets? Can Harrisburg gardeners safely plant bulbs this year? This is great theatre...almost as good as "Modern Family."

rebellious
21419
Points
rebellious 11/06/12 - 02:09 pm
4
0
That Tree

needed a second chance. And I would rather let 10 bad trees stand than cut down 1 innocent tree. We need to reach out to our trees, they are our tomorrow. The tree could have been counseled, and maybe straightened itself out. This is just not fair! And I bet it's bark was dark!

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