Harrisburg takes protest up Hill

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It was their quietest, shortest protest yet.

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Residents protesting in front of the home of John Weigle Jr. on Lake Forest Drive were deemed a traffic hazard by the Richmond County Sheriff's Department.  Michael Holahan/Staff
Michael Holahan/Staff
Residents protesting in front of the home of John Weigle Jr. on Lake Forest Drive were deemed a traffic hazard by the Richmond County Sheriff's Department.

Fifteen "concerned citizens of Harrisburg" managed to picket outside landlord John B. Weigle Jr.'s home in upscale Forrest Hills for half an hour Wednesday before being told to move by the Richmond County Sheriff's Office.

The activists included two Augusta Commission District 1 candidates, James "Butch" Palmer and Anthony Jones, who is a tenant in a house Mr. Palmer owns. They parked their cars and marched about a third of a mile to Mr. Weigle's home on Lake Forest Drive, where they stood in a line on the curb across the street, holding up professionally printed signs that said, "Taking back Harrisburg one land lord at a time," and "John Weigle Jr., Nuisance Property Owner, 223 Eve St., Harrisburg."

Some moved to the curb on Mr. Weigle's side of the street. Protestors Runetta Rigdon and Cathy Cooper stood in front of a parked Ford Expedition, holding up signs and pointing at the house when cars passed. There was movement inside, and at one point a couple pulled up in a Mercedes and walked in, ignoring the group.

It was the group's third landlord protest since July 4, and this time there were no bullhorns or shouted slogans. On instructions from organizer Lori Davis, the only noise coming from the group was conversation among the protestors. Mrs. Davis said she didn't want to give anyone a reason to claim they were causing a disturbance.

"Because we knew we were probably going to run into people who think they know better than we do," she said. "We're well within our rights as American citizens to do this."

The sheriff's office saw it differently.

Deputy Jesse Jackson arrived and asked Mrs. Davis to show their permit. She said it was her understanding they didn't need one. Sheriff's Col. Gary Powell has said permits aren't required, since the city's protest ordinance was ruled unconstitutional in 2004 after the Martha Burk-Augusta National Golf Club affair.

After conferring with his superiors, Deputy Jackson told Mrs. Davis that he deemed them a traffic hazard, and they would have to move. He told The Augusta Chronicle they were blocking the flow of traffic because, with three cars parked in front of the Weigle home, two cars couldn't pass on the narrow street at the same time.

Deputy Jackson said he wasn't summoned, but rather came out to monitor the situation. At one point he went inside the house and spoke to Mr. Weigle, letting him know police were there, he said.

The deputy told The Chronicle that the group had agreed with the sheriff's office to stage its demonstration in one of two grassy traffic triangles on both ends of the street, and they didn't do that. But both Mrs. Davis and Mr. Palmer said they hadn't conferred with the department beforehand.

The group obeyed the order to move but wasn't happy about it.

"We deal with a neighborhood where we have no peace," Mrs. Davis said. "We can't even get police to come out there in a timely manner."

Mr. Weigle, who hasn't returned repeated phone calls from The Chronicle , is one of three rental property owners the activist group has been targeting since its Fourth of July march through Harrisburg protesting absentee landlords and drug activity. A second demonstration was held Aug. 8 outside the Wheeler Road workplace of landlord Rachel Rabitsch.

As Ms. Cooper walked from the Weigle home to a grassy traffic triangle, where the protestors resumed their demonstration until being rained out, the 12-year Harrisburg resident said they accomplished their goal Wednesday despite the setback.

"The more people know that we're not going to tolerate what's going on in Harrisburg, the better off we're going to be," she said. "The way they stamped into our neighborhood, we're going to stamp them out."

Reach Johnny Edwards at (706) 823-3225 or johnny.edwards@augustachronicle.com.

Comments (36) Add comment
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TakeAstand
13
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TakeAstand 09/10/09 - 02:01 am
0
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Why is the same exact story

Why is the same exact story running again, front and top, but this time with no comments? And the latest crime news from tonight is bumped down out of no where.

brimisjoshan
2
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brimisjoshan 09/10/09 - 07:19 am
0
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Its obvious that since the

Its obvious that since the Weingburger deal that the AC has taken a different approach to their comment section. I keep seeing information deleted that used to be no problem and now whole sections shut down. I guess freedom of speech is limited to just reporters.

andywarhol
0
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andywarhol 09/10/09 - 07:26 am
0
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I'm glad I'm selling my house

I'm glad I'm selling my house before my subdivision becomes the next harrisburg or Apple Valley. Believe me, it's becoming that way right now! It's as if "these people" enjoy living in the middle of crime and take it with them everywhere they move.

iluvcollardgreens
0
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iluvcollardgreens 09/10/09 - 07:40 am
0
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Im not selling my house.I had

Im not selling my house.I had these type of people move in across the street and they thought they would blast music late at night and hang out in the street i just called the police and after a few times they stoped and been quiet for 7 months noww

stillamazed
1488
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stillamazed 09/10/09 - 08:58 am
0
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Why did the sheriff stop them

Why did the sheriff stop them is the question, he says he wasn't called out but someone had to inform them, if they were protesting quietly then I say let them be.

harrisburgwillrise
0
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harrisburgwillrise 09/10/09 - 09:12 am
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All of the earlier comments

All of the earlier comments seem to have been removed from this page. The protesters were wrongly removed from in front of Mr. Weigle's house. The officer who says he was not called out decided that we were impeding the flow of traffic. This officer did not even know that we did not need a permit to protest, nor did we have to inform the Sheriff's Dept. of a scheduled protest. He was grasping at straws for the elite of Augusta. We were asked to leave, and we left peacefully.

harrisburgwillrise
0
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harrisburgwillrise 09/10/09 - 09:14 am
0
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Is the whole Weigle family

Is the whole Weigle family and all of the Hill people threatening to cancel their subscriptions to the Chronicle? Is this why comments are being removed in mass?

bettyboop
7
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bettyboop 09/10/09 - 09:50 am
0
0
Looks like the sheriffs

Looks like the sheriffs office dropped the ball on this one....Mr. Strength please treat all citizens the same and do not impede their right to protest....And mr weigle you sir, should be ashamed!

randyswood
0
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randyswood 09/10/09 - 10:02 am
0
0
Sic 'em, Butch ! My

Sic 'em, Butch ! My Summerville neighbors and I have been watching you and your group with a certain degree of admiration for some time. Standing up for your turf.

Riverman1
83724
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Riverman1 09/10/09 - 10:09 am
0
0
That would make me mad. I

That would make me mad. I hope they go back another day. Let the police know ahead of time and have everything arranged. See what happens then.

grinder48
1954
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grinder48 09/10/09 - 10:13 am
0
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I don't have a dog in this
Unpublished

I don't have a dog in this fight but by chance happened to ride by at the time they were protesting and they were definitely creating a traffic hazard. I'm confident their creating a traffic hazard was unintentional but it was denifitely a hazard and a danger to the protestors and others because the street is narrow and there were cars parked on both sides, making traffic flow a problem and a danger. The Sheriff's Department did exactly what they should have done.

Riverman1
83724
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Riverman1 09/10/09 - 10:28 am
0
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If parking is legally allowed

If parking is legally allowed on the street, nothing should have been done. I'm sure traffic wasn't backed up for miles. If you had to slow up to go through, what's the big deal? I'd be back out there today.

ads56
0
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ads56 09/10/09 - 10:34 am
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If the cars were the only

If the cars were the only problem, God help the hill residents when they have a party! Protestors, if you need a ride to and from ...let me know. I think what ya'll are doing is wonderful!

ads56
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ads56 09/10/09 - 10:34 am
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If the cars were the only

If the cars were the only problem, God help the hill residents when they have a party! Protestors, if you need a ride to and from ...let me know. I think what ya'll are doing is wonderful!

harrisburgwillrise
0
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harrisburgwillrise 09/10/09 - 10:44 am
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The protesters did not park

The protesters did not park anywhere near the Weigle house. A designated spot for all protesters was scouted out in advance, and all cars were legally parked. The protesters walked in single file to the sight, and stood in the gutter on the opposite side of the street. The protest was well planned out, and the Sheriff's Dept. did not have to play any part in it, and by the way, legally the Sheriff's Dept. did not have to know anything about it.

daddyfrog1
4
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daddyfrog1 09/10/09 - 11:00 am
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If the parked cars were

If the parked cars were impeding traffic why didn't the police have the cars moved instead of the protestors?It's ok to go to a "town hall" meeting & raise cain,but protest the wrong issue on the wrong side of town & then there's a problem.This is America & if these protestors were peaceful & not breaking any laws,leave them alone & let them exercise their right to protest whatever they want.

Native007
4
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Native007 09/10/09 - 11:10 am
0
0
Great job HarrisBurgers!

Great job HarrisBurgers! keep it up.

TheDarkKnight
0
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TheDarkKnight 09/10/09 - 11:13 am
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Amazing! Here we have a

Amazing! Here we have a bunch of white folks (see picture) protesting a white landlord about his black tenants in their neighborhood. Do you not think the police would arrest the tenants if they were doing something illegal? Or is it that they sit in the front yard and the neighbors don't like it? What do they want the landlord to do? Evict the tenants for sitting in the front yard? Or could this just be good ole' Augusta white vs. black? Last time I checked, sitting in the front yard is not grounds for eviction. In fact, the law suit the landlord would get for eviction without cause would be staggering. Ask yourselves, who is doing something wrong here? Ashamed? The Dark Knight is watching.

nems
0
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nems 09/10/09 - 11:48 am
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0
Dark Knight is full of dark

Dark Knight is full of dark matter

LeGeneral
0
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LeGeneral 09/10/09 - 12:24 pm
0
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I wonder how Mr. Weigles

I wonder how Mr. Weigles neighbors feel knowing now that; while they are working hard and barely scraping by paying their inflated mortgage, Mr. Weigle's is being paid with drug/blood money. Constantly you will see young children sitting on their bikes leaning against the fence of 223 Eve Street being lured in by this parasitic infestation. Those kids lives are paying for his mortgage. And to say that 35+ Police dispatches to that property in a year and a half that nothing illegal is going on there...maybe if the Dark Night is watching...he needs his eyes checked.

thankgodforaugusta
0
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thankgodforaugusta 09/10/09 - 12:57 pm
0
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if he evicted the tenants the

if he evicted the tenants the same people would be protesting wrongful eviction they just want some attention out of 35+ Police dispatches how many arrest were made sounds like it may be harassment by the neighbors o thats right the police are in with the landlord what a crock

CorporalGripweed
0
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CorporalGripweed 09/10/09 - 01:12 pm
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Speaking to whomever thinks

Speaking to whomever thinks this is a black/white issue. You could not be more off the mark. These protesters have marched against landlords who have white tenants as well. It's an issue of responsible vs. irresponsible. You'll not find a more ardent capitalist than me, but making a profit at the expense of the good people of Harrisburg is just plain wrong.(Notice race wasn't mentioned once in that statement).

thankgodforaugusta
0
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thankgodforaugusta 09/10/09 - 01:17 pm
0
0
when someone says Speaking to

when someone says Speaking to whomever thinks this is a black/white issue you can bet your last dollar its a black/white issue

CorporalGripweed
0
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CorporalGripweed 09/10/09 - 01:51 pm
0
0
Huh?

Huh?

Evans Ga.
0
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Evans Ga. 09/10/09 - 01:51 pm
0
0
Yeah, I think that it's funny

Yeah, I think that it's funny to how the cops can make these people move by saying they are creating a traffic hazard. Is this the best you could do to get them to move?

CorporalGripweed
0
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CorporalGripweed 09/10/09 - 01:58 pm
0
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Upon reflection I should have

Upon reflection I should have been more specific. To Dark Knight, who brought up race initially. As this saga has unfolded over the last few months I have never seen any indication this was racially motivated. Typically when this tactic (crying racism) is used it is by those who have no logic to back up their argument so they use inflammatory rhetoric to sideline those who DO have logic on their side.

rufus
2
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rufus 09/10/09 - 02:01 pm
0
0
Money talks and bs walks. Who

Money talks and bs walks. Who walked where?

jack234
719
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jack234 09/10/09 - 02:13 pm
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I feel so much better after

I feel so much better after listening to our president last night. He has certainly cleared up many misconceptions that we had about the reform. We can only hope that the bill will become law soon and our president can sign it into law. We are all very excited after the joint session last night of democrats and Republicans.

harrisburgwillrise
0
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harrisburgwillrise 09/10/09 - 02:34 pm
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A police report was filed

A police report was filed last night concerning a resident at 223 Eve St. (Mr. Weigle's rental property) who threw a brick through the window of an oncoming car. The residents have been out of control for some time. We need cooperation from landlords who are wreaking havoc on our neighborhood.

HillGuy
7
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HillGuy 09/10/09 - 03:23 pm
0
0
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