Harrisburg residents protest against "nuisance" property owner

Saturday, Aug 8, 2009 4:12 PM
Last updated 4:16 PM
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With 10 people, only half as many protestors turned out at a second demonstration against “nuisance” Harrisburg property owners today, but they had a far wider audience.

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Butch Palmer shouts protest slogans outside the office of an "nuisance" property owner Saturday morning Aug. 8, 2009.  MICHAEL HOLAHAN/staff
Butch Palmer shouts protest slogans outside the office of an "nuisance" property owner Saturday morning Aug. 8, 2009.

Rather than marching through their neighborhood as they did on the Fourth of July, this time they picketed in front of a landlord’s place of work, standing in a patch of grass in the right-of-way along a busy stretch of Wheeler Road for about an hour and a half.

They held up signs to passing cars reading, “Taking back Harrisburg one land lord at a time” and “Concerned citizens of Harrisburg,” and they unfurled a hand-painted banner that said, “Hold Rachel Rabitsch accountable 4 1841 Watkins St.”

“People who live on Watkins Street are fearful, so we’re going to bat for the people on Watkins Street who live around that,” organizer and Crawford Street homeowner Lori Davis said. “We’re here for the fearful ones, and there are a lot of them.”

Most drivers passed by with blank stares, though some slowed out of curiosity or honked their horns in support.

Mrs. Rabitsch works as a leasing supervisor at Channell Realty in Wheeler Executive Center. The duplex she owns on Watkins Street – one of three houses targeted in last month’s demonstration against absentee landlords and drug dealing – is managed by she and her husband, Emory Rabitsch.

The Rabitsches have maintained that their tenants are good people who pay their rent on time, and they’re not going to evict them just because “they’re not upper class people.”

“They can picket and protest all they want to,” Mr. Rabitsch said last week.

But according to Richmond County Sheriff’s Office records, deputies have been called to 1841 Watkins at least 41 times since January 2008 over a range of issues including loud music, fights, suspicious persons, wanted persons, family trouble, welfare checks and drugs. During the sheriff’s office’s street-level drug sweeps last month, a man who doesn’t live in the duplex was arrested there for marijuana possession.

“1841 Watkins Street is a nuisance property!” protestor and Harrisburg homeowner Theresa McTier screamed Saturday. “The Rabitsches don’t care about Harrisburg!”

Channell Realty was closed Saturday, but Property Manager Brenda Hardy watched the protest from the parking lot, where she parked her Chevrolet Tahoe and snapped a few pictures.

Ms. Hardy said business owner Cliff Channell was out of town.

“All I know is he called to say he’s behind Rachel 100 percent, and he’ll check into it when he gets back,” Ms. Hardy said. “The 41 calls, anybody could make a call. How many of those calls were actually about those tenants? You can’t just evict a tenant because of what goes on around.”

Helping hold up a banner at Saturday’s demonstration, Harrisburg resident Anthony Jones, who took part in the July 4 protest, said he wasn’t nearly as nervous about being in this one.

“There’s not any drug activity in this place. This is a real respected area,” he said. “All these drugs and things in our neighborhood, I think it leads to a lot of break-ins, and I think that’s what led to my house being broken into last year.”

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FallingLeaves 08/08/09 - 04:59 pm
Lots of luck. I just hope

Lots of luck. I just hope that the property owners and law-abiding tenants that want peace and quiet and a healthy lawful neighborhood don't end up being arrested for disorderly conduct themselves. It's been known to happen. It's one way people that report drug trafficking and other criminal activity are targeted by co-dependents of the criminals around here. If the "friends" of the criminals can't bait you into something they can get you arrested for, they just gather up a bunch of false witnesses and make something up. When it's one of you and no one to back you up and a party of 5 or 6 hysterically screaming obscenities at the police to do something about their "target" what are the police supposed to do? I know there are members of Harrisburg that want to improve it, but they should be careful not to be vulnerable to a frame-up.

Fiat_Lux 08/08/09 - 05:06 pm
Here's what you need to live

Here's what you need to live in Harrisburg: burglar bars that open easily from the inside, metal doors with effective deadbolt locks, a large dog inside a fenced yard surrounding the house, and a loaded shotgun by the bed.

Just My Opinion
Just My Opinion 08/08/09 - 05:08 pm
Well, obviously Cliff Channel

Well, obviously Cliff Channel is siding with his employee because he doesn't want to make it seem he has anyone uncaring or unresponsible working for him...that is if he actually said he was 100% behind Rabitsch. And, about the number of calls the police have received...okay, it's true that anyone can make a call, but even if you cut the number in half, that's 20-21 calls in that amount of time!! That STILL is a large number of calls, isn't it?? I think this is an excellent way of putting pressure on the Rabitsches and anyone else who owns property and feel that they have no responsibility for who they rent to as long as those people pay their rent.

Harrisburg Homeowner
Harrisburg Homeowner 08/08/09 - 07:56 pm
Fiat Lux, I live in

Fiat Lux, I live in Harrisburg and I do not need all the protection you listed. Not all of Harrisburg is drug-infested or filled with scary people. But we have seen a negative change over the past few years, some due to closing of subsidized housing but many due to negligent absentee landlords who turn a blind eye and a deaf ear to problems that their tenants are causing. I think that these landlords (or should I call them "slum" lords?) should be sentenced to live in the very properties that they refuse to properly manage. Maybe then they would began to care about to whom they rent, the condition of their properties, and what goes on on their properties.

Jim-bob 08/08/09 - 09:10 pm
What happened with Palmers

What happened with Palmers big fight against Mercy Ministries? Did they close or move?

1CowboyFan 08/08/09 - 10:36 pm
Bulldoze Harrisburg and start

Bulldoze Harrisburg and start over.

grrrrrrrrrrrr fed up
grrrrrrrrrrrr fed up 08/08/09 - 10:45 pm
I as well am a Harrisburg

I as well am a Harrisburg resident and do not need all the protection either as harrisburg homeowner. I also rent from Channell Realty .
Mercy Ministries is still in place they are open. They just had a nice back to school fling for Harrisburg kids.People are so quick to say the bad about Harrisburg BUT never the good. I have kids who attend Crawford Avenue Church and the Boys and Girls Club can we hear some good about HARRISBURG ..........................Stop all the negative . There are bad and good in all neighborhoods . Go checkout OLDE TOWN.I moved from there that is where BUTCH PALMER should live if he wants to see drugs and all.

soldout 08/08/09 - 11:06 pm
All battles are won in the

All battles are won in the spiritual realm. Bind satan's influence over people. Flood your outdoor areas with praise music. Study in the Bible where Paul suggested turning people over the satan etc. Pray all truth come to light and every hidden thing is revealed. Use the name of Jesus in every situation and the power associated with it. Sin can't stand natural or spiritual light. Become a problem for the devil and those doing his work.
Speak blessings over those who don't deserve any and heap coals of fire on their head in the spiritual realm. Pray over every house and every person. Be violent in the spiritual realm and peaceful in the natural. Be a giver and confuse the sinner even more. Speak confusion over the plans of the enemy. Your words are creative and call things that aren't as they should be. Things will become what you speak and what you expect. Listen for direction from the Holy Spirit on how to take back the land.

ONLY THE TRUTH 08/09/09 - 12:05 am
Cmon Johnny Edwards..."SHE

Cmon Johnny Edwards..."SHE and her husband"? Dam

eachoneteachone 08/10/09 - 01:27 pm
harrisburg resident . I don't

harrisburg resident . I don't understand your anger toward Mr. Palmer. He isn't the only person who is protesting. He is one of the many. They don't want to see drugs. They are simply responding to the bad elements before they become bigger problems. Maybe that is what the Old Twon Residents should do too. Mr. Palmer has lived in Harrisbgurg for fifity years. Do you know him? Have you had conversations with him?

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