Police hold back crowds at Laney Walker store eviction

PHOTOS BY JAMES DOBBS/ SPOTTED
Sheriff Roundtree (gray suit) talks to the crowd
Tuesday, March 26, 2013 2:45 PM
Last updated Wednesday, March 27, 2013 2:37 PM
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 Richmond County sheriff’s officers were called Tuesday to fend off crowds hoping to make off with merchandise that had been set outside an Augusta grocery store during an eviction.

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Employees and hired men gather piles of food discarded by Laney Supermarket. Everything went into trash bins.   EMILY ROSE BENNETT/STAFF
EMILY ROSE BENNETT/STAFF
Employees and hired men gather piles of food discarded by Laney Supermarket. Everything went into trash bins.


Officials estimated 200 to 300 people filled the parking lot at Laney Supermarket, 843 Laney-Walker Blvd., after word spread that the Richmond County Marshal’s Office was enforcing an eviction at the business.

Officials said onlookers became angry when they learned they would not be allowed to take away food and other sundries that were piled outside the grocery as “abandoned property.”

The crowd dissipated after a swarm of deputies arrived, along with Sheriff Richard Roundtree, to assist the three marshals who had been initially assigned to the eviction.

“There is the potential to have people fighting and causing problems,” Lt. Calvin Chew said. “That’s not something we want.”

There were no arrests in the resulting confusion, but groups of people remained to watch the proceedings, many clutching empty bags and grumbling.

Tiffany Serles said she heard about the eviction from her aunt who lives nearby.

“She said they evicting Gurley’s,” Serles said, referring to the former name of the neighborhood market. “So, I came down here to get some of the stuff.”

Serles was watching with several friends while workers scooped up the food and other merchandise in trash cans which were in turn dumped into two garbage bins that officials said were destined for the Richmond County landfill.

“It’s a shame that they are just throwing all this stuff away and not even donating it to a shelter or anything,” she said.

Her friend, Victoria Williams, said she heard about the eviction on Facebook, as did many others. Word spread fast, and soon the parking lot was packed with people and cars waiting for a chance to take away the spoils.

“There are people with babies who need diapers out here,” she said.

Teresa Russell, a chief deputy with the marshal’s office, said the landlord, SunTrust Bank, was paying to have the displaced merchandise hauled away.

She said the tenant, Il Ki Choi, of Sun and Food LLC, could have avoided the commotion if he had moved out when notified by the court.

“They’ve known about this since Feb. 13,” Russell said. “They could have moved out anytime before today.”

SunTrust notified the tenant Jan. 1 that he had 30 days to vacate the property because the lease would not be renewed, according to court records.

A court-ordered eviction notice was served Feb. 13. Russell said the tenant failed to file an answer, so a judge signed the final order Feb. 27. SunTrust delayed scheduling the eviction until Tuesday.

According to Russell, a final notice was posted on the grocery’s door Friday. The tenant removed some goods from the store Tuesday morning before leaving, she said.

When reached by phone Tuesday afternoon, Choi said he was busy and could not answer questions.

Johanne Vargas, an agent for property manager FirstService Residential Realty, based in Sandy Springs, Ga., said she was unable to discuss the matter when asked why the groceries were not donated.

Joseph Young, who helps run a youth mentoring program in the same shopping center as the supermarket, watched marshals stand guard as food was tossed into the trash.

“We could have gotten some of this stuff and done something special for the kids this weekend,” Young said.

Comments (107)

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KSL
105754
Points
KSL 03/26/13 - 07:05 pm
6
5

Pray tell

What did the City of Augusta have to do with the items put out? They didn't belong to the City to give away.

Racism? Did you look and the picture and read the comments in the article?

Darby
19141
Points
Darby 03/26/13 - 07:14 pm
9
0

Pathetic!

Really pathetic. I sure hope this doesn't make it to the wire services.

countyman
16798
Points
countyman 03/26/13 - 07:27 pm
6
2

Realist

I do promote the city of Augusta, but I'm definitely realistic at the same time. I can think of certain neighborhoods/areas of the county that can't attract nicer grocery stores.

The proximity of the Laney Walker to the Medical District/CBD, and ongoing progress can't be denied. The city of Augusta is late to the party, but plenty of inner city neighborhoods have changed for the better.

I want to see the Laney Walker neighborhood full of upper middle class, middle class, and working class people of all races. I really need to convince some older white people(empty nester) to move and invest into the neighborhood. Attracting upper middle class black people, and young people from different ethnicities will be much easier.

sassylassie
368
Points
sassylassie 03/26/13 - 07:19 pm
10
1

Could they not have called

Could they not have called Golden Harvest to pick up everything? So the bank made the decision to throw everything away? Shameful. Makes you wonder about their other business practices.
If you don't pay your bills, you get evicted. I get that. But they could have handled that eviction differently given the fact it was a grocery store full of food and items that the TRULY needy could have received through the proper channels such as the food bank and its support system. Just a thought.
And why aren't all these able-bodied individuals, a number who are standing around on cell phones, at WORK??
And another poster calls the "racist" card into play? Really???
What about this situation is "racist" exactly?
I see our sheriff showed up to assist. Good move on his part!

karradur
2370
Points
karradur 03/26/13 - 07:26 pm
8
16

If this had happened in a white neighborhood...

...none of you would have a problem with them giving it all away.

In fact, you'd justify it as "servant leadership", or maybe "my farm subsidy tax dollars at work".

You want to talk about an elitist socialist entitlement society?

We have one. It's called West Lake.

karradur
2370
Points
karradur 03/26/13 - 07:28 pm
4
7

Never mind.

We get to call fellow citizens "animals" but I think the comment I wrote was still crossing the line.

happychimer
13249
Points
happychimer 03/26/13 - 07:28 pm
8
2

the bank could have donated

the bank could have donated the items to charity.It is a sin to throw away all that food.Shamefull and a disgrace.

MarinerMan
2107
Points
MarinerMan 03/26/13 - 07:37 pm
9
1

WHY ??

Unpublished

Why didn't the store call Golden Harvest last week? They knew damn good and well that this was going to happen. They have had at least two months notice !! And HOW can something in the Lainey Walker area, where we pump thousands of dollars a year into it. WHERE is BETTY BEARD ??!!

KSL
105754
Points
KSL 03/26/13 - 07:38 pm
6
4

Somebody's wealth envy is

Somebody's wealth envy is showing.

MarinerMan
2107
Points
MarinerMan 03/26/13 - 07:40 pm
8
1

You Missed It !!

Unpublished

The bank did not decide not to pay their loan. I read that earlier today, the store moved the meats and "good stuff", before the eviction started. They got what they wanted and the left. The Marshal's were doing the same thing they do @ someone's home -- property goes to the street !

my.voice
4194
Points
my.voice 03/26/13 - 07:51 pm
8
0

It's a shame a non profit

It's a shame a non profit couldn't have been tasked with distributing this now wasted material.

karradur
2370
Points
karradur 03/26/13 - 07:52 pm
8
11
karradur
2370
Points
karradur 03/26/13 - 08:01 pm
8
10

@my.voice

It would have been distributed to black people, and we all know THAT'S just a waste of time because they're "animals" with an "entitlement complex" and "wealth envy", right?

fedex227
8473
Points
fedex227 03/27/13 - 01:38 pm
6
6

karradur ... you're nuts!!

Jesus would have said, "Cast these things aside, for they offend mine eyes as do those who would so unselfishly give them to thy brother! Taketh them away and send them to the abject darkness of the Richmond County Landfill."

CobaltGeorge
138668
Points
CobaltGeorge 03/26/13 - 08:26 pm
3
1

Happy

I 100% agree on that one.

Pops
4334
Points
Pops 03/26/13 - 08:31 pm
7
4

I just bet

if they had stood back and allowed the folks to take what they wanted if would have been an orderly, peaceful, organized................free for all.

Jake
30337
Points
Jake 03/26/13 - 08:41 pm
11
5

Too bad.....

.....this didn't happen during the Masters for the out-of-town guests to witness. The comments, I mean.

fedex227
8473
Points
fedex227 03/27/13 - 01:36 pm
8
0

Perhaps Pops ...

But if Suntrust Bank had coordinated the eviction/disposition of the tenant inventory (not saying the eviction was unwarranted) with a local shelter or church, maybe some of those items could have been put to good use, instead of just throwing them away.

itsanotherday1
34614
Points
itsanotherday1 03/26/13 - 09:22 pm
6
0

Who actually owned the food?

Who actually owned the food? Answer that and you will have a better idea of who could have done what. No one had the authority to give away goods, or allow to be stolen, except the owner.

I agree with everyone though that there should have been some accomodation for it to not be wasted.

Willie Loman
246
Points
Willie Loman 03/26/13 - 09:59 pm
5
1

What a waste

Another sign that the economy is not doing as well as the MSM leads us to believe. I do think that SunTrust could have come up with a better solution than sending the goods to the dump. What a waste. I am sure the Salvation Army, Red Cross, Golden Harvest Food Bank, or other local ministries could have put the inventory to good use. Seems kinda heartless to trash the goods to me. Just saying.

allhans
21938
Points
allhans 03/26/13 - 10:10 pm
4
0

Please...pray this doesn't

Please...pray this doesn't make national news. How embarassing for Augusta............

specsta
5731
Points
specsta 03/26/13 - 10:44 pm
6
7

An Animal???

The fact that some of the folks on this opinion board are referring to their fellow human beings as "animals" is purely disgusting.

TrulyWorried
9709
Points
TrulyWorried 03/26/13 - 11:16 pm
4
3

I highly oppose

the calling of these people - "animals"???? Leave them out of it please, they don't do things like that.
And I must say that had this been organized, be by the Bank or the owner (even though he was evicted) a lot of heart ache and waste could have been avoided. To dispose of all these products into a dumpster is an absolute crime. To just grab and run would not be right either. BUT - one individual with a brain could have very easily organized a proper disposal and that long before the actual eviction day. Somebody is to blame - a lot - but who??? Banks used to be very active in the local community - why not could they have made advanced arrangements to have everything distributed where it is really needed? BUT - those days are over, unfortunately, people don't matter any more, just the almighty dollar.

Jake
30337
Points
Jake 03/26/13 - 11:37 pm
7
6

@specsta

The animal comment is just an individual exclaiming what many in the CSRA feel given their racial views. If this situation happened in any other neighborhood than the Laney Walker area then the comments might be tempered with understanding without the racial overtones. If there was a grocery store here in my neighborhood that was going to be shut down and their goods evicted into a parking lot then I am sure that people would congregate to see what they could get irregardless of race. It is just human nature, not a racial thing like many on here see it. But let's face it, we are talking about Augusta where almost everything is viewed through race.

KSL
105754
Points
KSL 03/27/13 - 12:33 am
8
3

Since when does mentioning

Since when does mentioning bringing out animal traits in humans equal calling some people animals?

And Jake, no, I would not show up for the spoils dumped out on the street.

LocalLawyer
317
Points
LocalLawyer 03/27/13 - 01:55 am
8
1

West Lake?

West Lake, elitist, maybe. Socialist, Entitlement Society, not even close. Do you even think before you speak? Those are the people paying the most in income taxes (after The Hillites). The groceries weren't the Sheriff's or the City's. Maybe the Bank's as abandoned property, but that generally applies to fixtures and not inventory from what I can remember. The inventory may have had multiple leans on it from different vendors.

LocalLawyer
317
Points
LocalLawyer 03/27/13 - 01:58 am
3
0

Liens* sorry it's late!

Liens* sorry it's late!

scoobynews
3697
Points
scoobynews 03/27/13 - 09:04 am
8
2

Most of us were to busy at

Most of us were too busy at work to go get some "free stuff". Two or three hundred people many of whom looked very able bodied to be working. Maybe if they had approached the situation in a more orderly manner then maybe the food could have been distributed. But yes when you start acting like an unruly pack then you have to think about the safety of everyone in the community. I have not been a big Roundtree fan but he did what he had to do. It was not his call where the food went. Suntrust is a billion dollar banking corporation do you really think they care?

wgcopeland
113
Points
wgcopeland 03/27/13 - 06:05 am
4
3

.....unbelievable

...to haul the merchandise off to the landfill was not the smartest thing to do,I'm sure there are a lot of people who are not as fortunate as others,including homeless veterans,could have used some of the items,...I think the sheriff's dept. could have handled this differently!!!!!!!

CABoatright
188
Points
CABoatright 03/27/13 - 06:57 am
0
0

Whaddya mean, "Get a job?"

Unpublished

I'm willing to bet this is the same crowd that doesn't get out of bed on a cold morning to go get a JOB!!!

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