Six people were shot after the July 6 First Friday event. Readers were split over whether the monthly event, which has been plagued by a “rowdier than normal crowd” in recent months, needs to be shut down or should be allowed to continue.
MUSEOFSATIE: “First Friday ends at 9pm. Obviously, some FF people are still downtown after that time, but the event is over at 9pm. I don’t see why First Friday should be the scapegoat for this act of violence. Regardless, the event has needed better police presence for years.”
KAREN BYRD-PARKER: “It needs to be shut down, and teenagers need to be sent home before 11:00. There nothing for them to do downtown but get into trouble.”
RICHMANA2: “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.”
The Richmond County Sheriff’s Office said it would beef up security and crack down on minors who are out past curfew at future First Friday events.
INSIDER INFORMATION: “Question: There is a law against shooting people. If a kid is willing to break the law by shooting someone, will that kid suddenly be afraid of breaking a curfew law?”
SPECSTA: “Young people need something to do in Augusta. That’s the problem. There are plenty of vacant properties in the city that could be used for an amusement park, skateboard park, water park, etc. Large-scale stuff, not some hokey place that might as well have “mediocre” above it for a sign. Teens need fun activities to get involved with so they don’t get bored and into trouble. Increasing the police state mentality isn’t going to cut it.”
PATTY-P: “All of the above sounds wonderful. But of course, you will STILL have the ghetto-minded, gun-toting fools that come out and ruin the fun for everyone, then you have to shut things down once again. If the kids would learn how to act so people would put money and resources towards these types of things, it would make for a much better community.”
The Freedom From Religion Foundation took issue with the Mayor’s Prayer Breakfast, a monthly gathering established by Mayor Deke Copenhaver shortly after he took office in 2005.
The Wisconsin-based group promotes the separation of church and state and aims to educate the public on matters relating to “nontheism,” the absence of a belief in God.
JASJAMES7: “What is separation of church and state? To keep the government from controlling the church not from government officials expressing their religious beliefs. Study your history and law.”
CARCRAFT: “They are afraid that some place, some where, sombody may be praying and worshiping God, and we just can’t have that can we?”
The Rev. Jerry Ragan of St. Mary on the Hill Catholic Church wrote a July 9 letter to the editor, “What of religious freedom?” in response to the foundation’s scrutiny.
WILLOW BAILEY: “All invitee’s to the Mayor’s prayer breakfast have a choice.. to attend or not to attend, to pray or sit quietly, to believe or not believe...It’s all choices, just as Christ has given us a choice. ... The problem we have is not that Christians want to make your choice, but that you, the unbeliever, wants to make theirs.
Do Christians enter your gathering, and say, “Oh, my, these heathens are not praying; let’s call the law and shut them down; hire an attorney who will sue them?” I think the answer is crystal.”
SOUTHERNLESLIE: “The constitution guarantees freedom OF religion...not freedom FROM religion.”
NOMANINTHESKY: “As long as this event is called the (mayors) prayer breakfast then it is a officially endorsed event and my tax dollars shouldnt go towards something i dont believe in. Just as you would not want your tax payer dollars paying for abortions.”
A wreck sent two people to the hospital July 7 after Augusta resident Thomas Jackson Taylor spotted his ex-girlfriend in a car with another man. Police say Taylor rammed his truck into the car until it flipped, inspiring readers to share their own tales of relationships gone sour.
RIVERMAN1: “I never rammed, but I did have the air let out of my tires once by a disgruntled admirer. I was just thankful she didn’t cut them. She was nice enough to just let the air out. Heh.”
KAREN SLATER-MCDANIEL: “I had someone put sugar in my gas tank many years ago. ... Luckily the person was an idiot because they used SUGAR PACKETS ... to this day I still wonder how that person walked out of Hardees with that many sugar packets & how long it took them to sit outside my parents house & shove them in my gas tank one by one! Lol.”
SEENITB4: “Just be glad you haven’t had glue & paint all over your car...(someone in my family had this happen to them) MESSY!”