Crime & Courts

Richmond Co. | Columbia Co. | Aiken Co. |

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
  • Follow Crime & courts

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.

Back | Next
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.

Comments (33) Add comment
ADVISORY: Users are solely responsible for opinions they post here and for following agreed-upon rules of civility. Posts and comments do not reflect the views of this site. Posts and comments are automatically checked for inappropriate language, but readers might find some comments offensive or inaccurate. If you believe a comment violates our rules, click the "Flag as offensive" link below the comment.
rebellious
21840
Points
rebellious 11/06/12 - 02:10 pm
2
0
Seenit

I wasn't blending into the tree they cut down. I was camoed as a trash bag that day...

rebellious
21840
Points
rebellious 11/06/12 - 02:26 pm
2
0
Those

Gantlets can be tough. Working on the railroad!

harley_52
25826
Points
harley_52 11/06/12 - 03:22 pm
2
0
Interesting...

...that Woody has a revolver strapped to his hip and his sweater lifted up just enough to let it show. Is this a challenge to the drug dealers? Why would he make sure the gun is obvious and why would the AC photographer make sure it's displayed so prominently?

Who is the fastest gun in Harrisburg?

Tullie
2930
Points
Tullie 11/06/12 - 04:11 pm
3
0
harley_52 said:

Interesting that Woody has a revolver strapped to his hip and his sweater lifted up just enough to let it show. Is this a challenge to the drug dealers? Why would he make sure the gun is obvious

He doesn't have to waste time fumbling around with his sweater to get to it.

I don't think it was a challenge, it might be more to let anyone know that he was armed in case someone around there had any ideas of messing with him.

Or maybe when he pulled it over the gun, he thought it made him look fat. It does add some bulk you know :o)

tabbydot
12
Points
tabbydot 11/06/12 - 05:03 pm
3
0
I live in Harrisburg & really

I live in Harrisburg & really want it to be safe & beautiful, but cutting down a tree? You could have blown it up & they just move down the street. Why are you doing more things to make Harrisburg ugly, do you really think cutting down a beautiful tree & leaving a stump will suddenly make the drug dealers quit? No, just like the other comment said. My daughter goes to John Milledge & the students were upset when they looked out the window & the tree was being cut down. Why not close down the Corner Store, where most drug deals & other cirmes go down on a daily basis, I don't like that store being open across the street from the new school anyway. PLEASE leave the big old trees alone, they are the only thing still making the neighborhood loke nice.

scorehouse
196
Points
scorehouse 11/06/12 - 07:17 pm
0
1
tree more
Unpublished

important than stopping drug dealers! really! so that's your priority? r-man, you should be ashamed. by the way morons. a bradford pear only has a 15-20 life expectancy. they are also dangerous in augusta's icy winters as they will split into without any warning and crash into whatever is near. woody should have left it up until the spring. maybe the tree would have taken out a couple of these dbags during an ice storm!

harley_52
25826
Points
harley_52 11/06/12 - 07:19 pm
1
0
"It does add some bulk you know"

Yes, I know. Most people are looking for smaller and smaller guns and just the right holster to minimize the bulk. Not many people (around here anyway) carry their weapon exposed on their hip, especially when they're being photographed for the local newspaper and particularly when they're symbolically telling the drug dealers to "get out of town."

I fully support the program, but question this particular aspect of the gesture. Some might interpret it as a challenge for a gun fight.

If you're going to challenge drug dealers to a gun fight, a six shot revolver would probably not be the weapon of choice. Those dudes are likely carrying high capacity 9mms, or .40s, or maybe even AK 47s.

joe community
8
Points
joe community 11/07/12 - 08:37 am
1
0
look around

Wouldn't have made more sense to clean up the vacant lot directly across the street... and even cut down the two trees that are becoming a hazard to falling...I guess that makes too much sense of "ACTUALLY CLEANING UP THE AREA"...

Back to Top

Top headlines

Kettle donations rise in 2014

After a disappointing showing last year, donations to the Salvation Army's local Red Kettle Campaign have risen nearly 20 percent in 2014.
Search Augusta jobs