Dramatic defiance

Augustans seem poised to take back their streets this First Friday

  • Follow Editorials

No one was killed in the shooting of six after downtown Augusta’s First Friday celebration July 6.

But the monthly festival itself was nearly left for dead.

There were calls to end it, while some wanted it moved to a weekend day, for safety’s sake.

Yet, only three weeks later, this Friday’s installment is showing all the signs of a huge comeback.

The good guys may be about to take back the night.

Rather than giving up or fleeing, the community is responding to the shooting with what looks to be an increased presence downtown this Friday, with added musical and family attractions at the Augusta Common and the Jessye Norman Amphitheater on the river.

The Common (826 Reynolds) will play host to a free family-friendly concert, a petting zoo and inflatables (starting at 5 p.m.), as well as food and drinks for purchase. The concert on the river (at 8 p.m.) will cost $12. Craft beer and food will be available there for purchase.

If it seems as if Augusta is about to make a statement, it appears that’s the case.

“The community made it clear in forums, letters and comments that First Friday should continue,” says Brenda Durant, executive director of the Greater Augusta Arts Council, which coordinates First Friday along with downtown merchants. “Yes, (increased) action is a decision to move forward. A group decided to program a family friendly event on the Common, followed by a concert at the amphitheater. This, along with activities on the 1000 and 1100 blocks of Broad will make a great First Friday.

“I think downtown will have a great energy in August with lots of options for a great night.”

It’s a beautiful and profound thing that may be happening in this town this week. There’s a certain magnificent defiance in the human spirit. When put to use for a good cause – such as defending a safe and civil society – that defiance becomes a work of art.

That’s the spirit.

It’s also the right thing to do, particularly for our downtown merchants, who put their hearts and souls into their businesses.

“They depend on First Friday to stay in business,” Durant says. “I received a letter from a restaurant owner who stated she pays her rent from First Friday business. Even business owners who don’t feel they have a positive impact from the event can’t ever know who saw their store, who mentioned it to a friend or who returned later to make a purchase.”

First Friday skeptics will be watching closely this week, particularly if their storefront was damaged last month. Even if there is a palpable lightness of being in the crowds and goings-on, there will be a lot of pressure to keep the peace – especially after the event officially shuts down at 9:30 p.m.

The rare violence associated with First Friday – another after-hours melee 10 years ago led to multiple arrests – has never been laid fairly at the feet of First Friday itself. Even the crowds are different. But the event has been a catalyst for after-hours mischief, and it’s essential we get a grip on that. Starting this Friday.

You can bet Richmond County Sheriff Ronnie Strength will do his best to do just that. “I trust his expertise,” Durant said.

In addition, the conditions that give rise to occasional bursts of lawlessness – downtown and elsewhere – still need to be addressed: lack of parenting, a loss of individual responsibility, a breakdown in social mores and so on. That discussion, which has little to do with and goes way beyond the confines of First Friday, is only beginning.

We need a new era of accountability nationwide. We may as well start in Augusta, Ga.

For now, let’s celebrate – openly, defiantly and with abandon – the fact that we own the streets of this town, not the badly outnumbered and outwitted pea-brain thug.

If you’re for peace and freedom and civility and safety, you can make a huge statement in favor of all of those things this Friday. And have a good time doing it.

Let’s overwhelm the darkness with our light.

Comments (14) 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.
KSL
150568
Points
KSL 07/29/12 - 12:01 am
5
0
Shots fired on Broad, 2 weeks

Shots fired on Broad, 2 weeks in a row.

Riverman1
98552
Points
Riverman1 07/29/12 - 06:29 am
5
0
Yeah, Right

Talk about an editorial being turned in a day too soon. Another shootout this past Friday night. Respectable business owners are fed-up.

Riverman1
98552
Points
Riverman1 07/29/12 - 07:36 am
3
0
Thinking about online v. hard copy

This is a good example of news coming out after a piece is submitted for print. With the immediacy of the internet edition, I would have a deadline of just before it was posted. Even if it ends up different than the hard copy it would be more accurate. More work I realize, but that's in the future I suspect because it makes sense.

Riverman1
98552
Points
Riverman1 07/29/12 - 08:33 am
2
0
Ooops

Wrong thread.

KSL
150568
Points
KSL 07/29/12 - 09:11 am
3
0
River, that comment seemed

River, that comment seemed appropriate here to me.

harley_52
27391
Points
harley_52 07/29/12 - 12:46 pm
1
0
Which Fi rst Friday?

Is this Editorial talking about next Friday, or last Friday? I'd hate to think it was last Friday.

Anyway....I'm happy to see the city and the citizens make the decision NOT to run away from the thugs and criminals. Even if the piece was written to highlight LAST Friday, I don't think anything changes just because some intoxicated felon fires a weapon into the air. It's certainly not the same thing as six citizens being gunned down and the reaction of law enforcement officials seems to have been swift and firm.

I agree with and applaud this Editorial and I hope all parties involved stand firm with their decision.

harley_52
27391
Points
harley_52 07/29/12 - 05:01 pm
1
0
Nexr Friday...

...is the First Friday (of August), isn't it?

dstewartsr
20393
Points
dstewartsr 07/29/12 - 05:43 pm
4
0
Thought about

...being an illegal vendor; I was thinking of a small kiosk on the corner of 9th, where the youth element makes its way onto Broad. Like the old, "cigars, cigarettes, matches," I'd have some hotties with traysgoing up and down the sidewalks after 10:00, selling Kevlar vests, Kwik Klot, and gunshot residue wipes. Give 'em what they want, right?

countyman
22196
Points
countyman 07/29/12 - 06:36 pm
0
5
I think you guys are lucky

I think you guys are lucky the local media doesn't bombard us the crime outside of Richmond County... It's funny how people soon forget...

Aiken with a population of 30k has around seven to eight homicides this year.... They also had two police officers killed within a couple of months...

The Columbia County police force had to respond to shootings more than once in the Old Evans, Old Petersburg, and Blue Ridge drive area...

Their were recently two shootings(one person got shot in the first one) at North Augusta Gardens within 2 hours.....

Why do some people always treat the crime in Augusta so different??

KSL
150568
Points
KSL 07/29/12 - 10:56 pm
1
0
Didn't I read your post

Didn't I read your post somewhere else, CM? Refer to my answer on another thread.

KSL
150568
Points
KSL 07/29/12 - 10:59 pm
2
0
At any rate, comparing

At any rate, comparing shootings on the main street in the business district to shootings elsewhere in the metro is senseless.

KSL
150568
Points
KSL 07/29/12 - 11:15 pm
1
0
Nobody treats crime

Nobody treats crime differently. It's your perception and sensitivity. The fact is that gun shots have been fired in your front yard and we are talking about it. The last time a gun was fired in my neighborhood was by my husband shooting down a nerf football stuck on a tree branch with his 12 gauge shot gun over 2 decades ago. That was in my front yard over 2 decades ago.

No one called the sheriff. No one got injured. And the nerf football was more easily thrown and kicked after that.

David Parker
7923
Points
David Parker 07/30/12 - 12:35 pm
0
0
Had fun down there Friday.

Had fun down there Friday. After getting "shot" by the photo guy on the levee, we went over to Bee's Knees and had viddles and drink. No acts of violence went down but I was accosted by some ruthless mosquitos when I got home to Martinez.

PhiloPublius
386
Points
PhiloPublius 07/31/12 - 09:18 am
0
0
I just don't see how can

I just don't see how can Augusta be so unsafe with Austin Rhodes' buddies Sheriff Strength and Captain Peebles on the job?

Vote GOP!

Back to Top
loading...
Top headlines

Health care cost worries lock out substitutes

A decision on limiting hours of part-time Richmond County school employees to offset anticipated health care costs has been rescinded, but the mistake caused confusion and cost some substitute ...
Search Augusta jobs