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.

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ColCo
842
Points
ColCo 03/27/13 - 07:21 am
6
0
Poor planning

I believe the blame for this incident lays directly on Marshal Steve Smith. He is not new to the office and he should have anticipated the results yesterday's eviction produced, and planned accordingly.

nocnoc
45041
Points
nocnoc 03/27/13 - 07:29 am
8
1
Why the Sheriffs were needed

It was skimmed over but the fact was a Food Riot was developing.

People in food riots will start fighting over a loaf of bread or a box of diapers or a pack of gum. Pretty soon, given the situation (WHITE or BLACK), fists and hair pulling starts then some bozo thug pulls a gun and a person is shot. Next the rumors start and the problem spreads wider and wider. Then certain people with more mouth than brains milk it for personal or vindictive gains.

We saw how just a few Race Baiters started a riot in Augusta before, just by spreading false info. to stir things up. Their racially based actions ended up getting a number of people killed. Plus 123+ that when missing and still are at last count.

So when Sheriff Roundtree, with about 20 deputies, jumped in and stopped the free-for-all, he did Augusta DOWNTOWN a big favor.

A Few Last Things
I don't think anyone is arguing the eviction and the food disposal / re-distribution could of have been handled a whole hell of a lot better.

But GA LAW requires that the evicted items be placed on the edge of the property and they cannot be funneled to any one, except by the owner of the items.

The owner should have arranged to pick them up days before and there is no shortage of rental trucks in Augusta for him to have done so.

I am now wondering if this is a Lawsuit setup to sue ARC for the loses?

Interesting Note:
This came close to being the 1st Food Riot ever started with the help of Facebook.

annw
15
Points
annw 03/27/13 - 07:33 am
6
0
This food should have gone to Golden Harvest Food Bank, the Mast

the Master's table or DCCM Food Pantry or one of the many churches that operate food pantries that assist the needy. Those who made this decision about eviction without contacting one of these agencies should be fired. There are too many who cannot afford to put a decent meal on their table for this food to go to waste.

bigj706
1241
Points
bigj706 03/27/13 - 07:36 am
2
3
I love hearing these soap box

I love hearing these soap box shouters!!

soldout
1280
Points
soldout 03/27/13 - 08:09 am
5
0
Martin Luther King said

Martin Luther King said to JUDGE these people by the character of their heart and not the color of their skin. OK......got that done.

Adam Bomb
359
Points
Adam Bomb 03/27/13 - 08:12 am
1
8
This is crap.

Fresh food thrown away when dozens of hungry, needy folks watched, kept away by the local Gestapo wannabes. Best thing everyone who cares can do is boycott the business that gave the destroy order. Put them out of business and let them watch their things be hauled to the dump. Pitiful state of affairs and a national embarrassment just before the Masters. I don't think this will go away any time soon. In fact, I'll help make sure it doesn't. Commissioner Williams, are you with us?

JaeW
2
Points
JaeW 03/27/13 - 08:36 am
0
9
Egregious Will of Power

Sheriff Roundtree... "I voted for you", but you can bet you won't get another one. Your actions yesterday were not only deplorable, but selfish and insensitive. What should have happened at the Laney Walker Blvd Supermarket, the same deputies you brought in to keep the people from that food should have been there to do, just want those tax paying citizens pay them to do "Maintain Order". The selfish will of power to deny those people that food was tantamount to a level of egregious superiority, resembling that of lord over a peasant. There is not way you can spend this as a community service. In simple terms I am insultingly disappointed in you.

csralookout
287
Points
csralookout 03/27/13 - 08:36 am
9
0
good job on reporting this

good job on reporting this Augusta Chronicle - staff writers & photographers. You guys are the best!

oldlady60
26
Points
oldlady60 03/27/13 - 08:38 am
7
0
Once the food was on the

Once the food was on the street, why did not the police allow Golden Harvest Food Bank to pick up the food? there are so many senior citizens in the surrounding Augusta area who are going hungry. the food would be better serving them, then these good for nothings, who have there hands out for everything free.

Cameron Poe
938
Points
Cameron Poe 03/27/13 - 08:46 am
14
1
I think many commenters are

I think many commenters are missing the point on this story. I think everyone can agree throwing away perfectly good food when there are hungry folks in our city is not the best decision. But this story is not about that. This story is about a group of people that simply assumed because the store was being evicted they were entitled to take whatever they wanted no matter who it belonged to. The sheriff and his men did their jobs and followed the law. The inventory was not theirs to decide to hand out. We should commend RCSD for keeping the peace and following the law correctly even if it was not the "popular" decision.

fishman960
1492
Points
fishman960 03/27/13 - 08:57 am
5
1
Waste

Over 70 comments so far about a minuscule amount of food and other goods going to waste when EVERY DAY tons and tons of food is wasted by grocery stores, restaurants, hospitals, schools, etc.
I don't understand some folks reasoning. Their outrage seems unfocused.
When I worked at a grocery for 15 yrs, we threw away a dumpster full of food a day most every day.

BamaMan
2533
Points
BamaMan 03/27/13 - 09:00 am
5
4
Delirious...

racism? Take a good look at the pictures. Just what do you see?

itsanotherday1
45445
Points
itsanotherday1 03/27/13 - 09:05 am
8
1
fishman

Too much liability to distribute food that is tossed. After all, your store threw away the food for a reason, correct?

soapy_725
43757
Points
soapy_725 03/27/13 - 09:06 am
1
0
Hillarious how local authorities pick and choose
Unpublished

, moment by moment, when to uphold and enforce "the letter of the law". Amazing intelligence. Following the letter of the law when it comes to disposal of evicted personal property. Have you every seen a policeman guarding personal stuff by the curb in front an eviction residence? Never. The locals knew this would be an issue and it was. It could have been handled differently.

"Never seen a crisis I did not love." Obama's friend. Bill Clinton stated he wished he had been POTUS on 911.

It was a staged crisis event. A "photo op" for the sheriff.

Riverman1
86999
Points
Riverman1 03/27/13 - 09:07 am
5
4
Common Sense Left With the Dumpster

Throwing that food in the dumpster is absolutely a sin. Rules be damned, somebody there should have said, "Wait a minute, we're not wasting this food. Line up."

Sheriff Roundtree and the deputies had no way of knowing the circumstances. They should have been informed so they could have supervised GIVING the food to those poor people. Ridiculous waste. We need better communication and coordination with our agencies to prevent another stupid waste such as this was.

BamaMan
2533
Points
BamaMan 03/27/13 - 09:13 am
7
5
karradur

ARE YOU FOR REAL? Westlake an elitist socialistic entitlement society? The people in Westlake WORK for what they have! These vultures standing around with their free phones, hair weaves, nail jobs, gold teeth, do NOT work. Taxpayers pay for them to stand around and perform such ridiculous feats as this. This is entitlement at it's best.

kmb413
533
Points
kmb413 03/27/13 - 09:17 am
4
1
Can I get...

directions to the landfill? You know, one man's trash is another man's treasure.

David Parker
7923
Points
David Parker 03/27/13 - 09:21 am
8
1
Somebody gets sick from

Somebody gets sick from out-of-date food and then a lawsuit is brought. No good deed goes unpunished. I can completely see all sides and there is no answer that I can come up with. Just kinda sucks.

LillyfromtheMills
13977
Points
LillyfromtheMills 03/27/13 - 09:26 am
3
3
So sad!

Are they really hungry? I know they don't work, but why? It floored when one said it went out over FB. These folks have a computer but no food? And the sheriff is out there visiting? I don't get it!

Little Lamb
46976
Points
Little Lamb 03/27/13 - 10:51 am
4
1
There Oughta Be A Law

So, will we learn from this and have Andrew MacKenzie draft an ordinance outlining the proper procedure to follow the next time there is a grocery store eviction in Richmond County?

Even better, have Hardie Davis draft a bill for the General Assembly to outline proper procedure for grocery store evictions in the whole state!

New laws will solve every problem.

We've all seen household items placed on the curb when there has been a legal eviction at a residence. Question: is it legal for the public to scavenge those piles, since they are on county right-of-way?

Companion question: Is it legal to scavenge piles of unwanted household items placed on the curb at residences where no eviction has occurred—the owner just doesn't want the stuff any more?

Trick question: Is it legal to keep a diamond ring you find in a Cracker Barrel parking lot?

Trickier question: Is it legal to keep a diamond ring you find in a Cracker Jacks box?

InChristLove
22481
Points
InChristLove 03/27/13 - 10:09 am
8
1
Comments concerning the

Comments concerning the Sheriff and his men should have organized and distributed the items.......how? You have a mob of 200 people all wanting items. Do you tell them to line up and they are only allowed what they can fit in one bag....what about outdated food. Since it had been appx. 2 months I'm sure some of the food freshness could be in question and then what happens when someone gets sick from the food or what happens when Sally gets all the diapers and Lilly wanted some and they fight about it. This is rediculous. And for the commenter concerning your vote for Sheriff Roundtree.....you ought to be glad he is doing his job. If he had gone against the Bank's wishes, everyone would be condemning him about going above the law and doing his own thing.

justthefacts
22731
Points
justthefacts 03/27/13 - 10:15 am
5
1
David Parker

His post sums it up well.

seenitB4
90911
Points
seenitB4 03/27/13 - 10:16 am
7
1
ICL nailed it

The Sheriff did his job....lawsuits in the making with the items.....what line up...that could have caused a riot right there....yes the goods should have been donated....get in line please..

itsanotherday1
45445
Points
itsanotherday1 03/27/13 - 10:22 am
4
0
The crazy thing is the store

The crazy thing is the store manager knew they were being evicted. Why didn't they get the word out they were heavily discounting the groceries and make a few bucks, while helping the community with cheap food?

You know, the old 10% off today, 20% tomorrow, 30% the next day and so on until it is all gone.

chascushman
6653
Points
chascushman 03/27/13 - 10:27 am
5
4
“This story is about a group
Unpublished

“This story is about a group of people that simply assumed because the store was being evicted they were entitled to take whatever they wanted no matter who it belonged to.”
Mr.Poe, you hit the nail on the head. This is what the liberals/democrats have created.

KSL
134593
Points
KSL 03/27/13 - 10:57 am
3
3
Adam

I was going to say that those people in the pictures didn't look particularly needy, but several beat me to it.

CambodiaPhilip
18
Points
CambodiaPhilip 03/27/13 - 10:58 am
6
3
Blaming Obama?

Reading some of these comments makes me feel ashamed. I totally understand wanting people to buy stuff and not get it for free, but no one in the crowd pictured looks like they drove a Hummer to the eviction. With people in the neighborhood that could benefit from the food, diapers, or whatever else was tossed it is ridiculous to hear people justify why it is better to put it in a landfill. It is just as ridiculous to hear people blame Obama. Instead of sounding life self-righteous blowhards, try using a bit of empathy? You may not agree with someone's choices or mistakes in life, but to deny them food or a child diapers that will otherwise serve no purpose is what is wrong with America. People around the world don't have enough food or clean water and to hear people justify throwing those things away when the very people that could use those things are standing there asking for them is a shame.

Jane18
12332
Points
Jane18 03/27/13 - 11:01 am
4
2
loaves and fish

Sorry karradur, Jesus gave nothing out....He blessed the loaves and fish, and His disciples handed the food out. To Jake--Irregardless is a word some not-knowing person came up with, even though many people have picked up on it(just like soooo many other things that are wrong, but still accepted). The correct word is still "regardless". To the story--When eviction orders are made up, there is "someone or some people" that know about it ahead of time. I have seen this before when doing some work in an apartment complex around Atlanta. All the belongings were put out on the street(very nice stuff), and it was not 30 seconds until two vehicles with three or four persons in them, were on those belongings of another, like flies on you know what. They had that stuff loaded up and gone in 2 or 3 minutes. They knew what they were doing, must have had much practice. I have never forgotten that, I have often wondered how the people felt when they got home and everything they had was gone. I know it was their own fault, but, it shows how little people care about others, even their own race! This incident and the one in this article make me think of buzzards(vultures) swooping in on something dead...oh well, that's what "scavengers" do! The person really to blame is Il Ki Choi, too bad he/she did not try to help himself/herself and the people in that neighborhood..............................

onethickdiva
1558
Points
onethickdiva 03/27/13 - 11:05 am
0
0
Dont shoot the messenger

I hear from a very reliable source the the day the owner took items from the store a local charity was called and asked to come get the non-perishables and they did within the limitations they had for transportation and short notice.

David Parker & In Christs Love hit the nail on the head. It was not Sheriff Roundtree's call who to give the items too. Eviction has a process and the Marshalls department had to uphold it. If the food had been a free for all can you imagine the fights and riots over the last pack of diapers? We have witnessed fights on Black Friday over items we have to pay for so free would definitely draw blood. Additionally, that store was notorious for having outdated items! If someone got sick who would get sued? The owner? He didnt give it away. SunTrust? They arranged for disposal. The City of Augusta? I can see it now: Thursdays headline "Roundtree feeds the poor" An article on Friday about the meat being spoiled. Saturdays headline "Roundtree overrides law, city sued" He was darned if he did and darned if he didnt.

Little Lamb
46976
Points
Little Lamb 03/27/13 - 11:15 am
5
0
Ownership

Yeah, but the things were not the sheriff’s to give. Roundtree handled it correctly.

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