Harrisburg residents picket at landlord's house

Wednesday, Sept. 9, 2009 9:05 PM
Last updated Wednesday, Jan. 20, 2010 11:17 PM
  • Follow Latest News

It was their quietest, shortest protest yet.

Back | Next
Donna Beaver shields herself from the rain with her sign protesting John Weigle, Jr., in Forrest Hills Wednesday evening September 9, 2009  MICHAEL HOLAHAN/staff
MICHAEL HOLAHAN/staff
Donna Beaver shields herself from the rain with her sign protesting John Weigle, Jr., in Forrest Hills Wednesday evening September 9, 2009

Fifteen “concerned citizens of Harrisburg” managed to picket outside landlord John B. Weigle Jr.’s home in upscale Forest 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 amongst themselves. 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 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 their 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 group resumed their protest 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.”

Comments (20) 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.
Just My Opinion
6093
Points
Just My Opinion 09/09/09 - 08:29 pm
0
0
Well, it doesn't take a

Well, it doesn't take a rocket scientist to see that Mr. Weigle pulled some strings to get the police to intervene in this quiet, peaceful protest. Again, I applaud these residents for doing what they can, in a peaceful manner, to let people know of the problems that some of these landlords are allowing to go on in Harrisburg. Maybe Mr. Weigle should get in his Mercedes and drive downtown to see what his homey-tenants are up to. Naaah, that won't happen, unless he calls "his" police again for an escort!

puddeecat
0
Points
puddeecat 09/09/09 - 09:05 pm
0
0
Blocking the flow of traffic

Blocking the flow of traffic my A@@!

harrisburgwillrise
0
Points
harrisburgwillrise 09/09/09 - 09:10 pm
0
0
No one in the group informed

No one in the group informed the Sheriff's office of the protest, therefore, no one told the Sheriff's office that the protesters would be in any particular place. Legally, the Sheriff's office does not even have to be informed of a protest, or carry any permit to protest. The police officer did not even know the law himself...sad.
The police officer made the group leave when Mr. Weigle's Father showed up in a Mercedes. Also, these same protesters marched the streets of Harrisburg on the 4th of July, and I guess by the, " Hill," laws, they broke every rule in the book, yet were allowed to continue the protest. Such double standards. Sure was all peaceful and quiet up on the hill. Wish we had the same opportunity in Harrisburg.

CorporalGripweed
0
Points
CorporalGripweed 09/09/09 - 09:35 pm
0
0
Funny how repeated calls to

Funny how repeated calls to the authorities aren't enough to shut down "suspect" properties in Harrisburg but a few silent protesters will get immediate action from police if you live on the "Hill". I guess those who take rent money from questionable people have more influence in this town, than do those who wish to better their neighborhood by holding certain landlords feet to the fire.

The Big O
0
Points
The Big O 09/09/09 - 09:45 pm
0
0
Why won't the landlords

Why won't the landlords return calls to the AC and defend their properties? Keep on them Butch!

harrisburgwillrise
0
Points
harrisburgwillrise 09/09/09 - 10:01 pm
0
0
The protest sight was not

The protest sight was not revealed to the protesters until 30 min. prior to the protest, by the protest leader. It is obvious that the police were not going to let this happen, and made up a story to cover their decision to move protesters out of the area.

HillGuy
7
Points
HillGuy 09/09/09 - 10:08 pm
0
0
Once again the city of

Once again the city of Augusta ignores the laws governing free speech.

HillGuy
7
Points
HillGuy 09/09/09 - 10:10 pm
0
0
I hope people are tired of

I hope people are tired of the double standards in Augusta.
www.butchforaugusta.org

mosovich
838
Points
mosovich 09/09/09 - 10:11 pm
0
0
Way to go Harrisburg

Way to go Harrisburg residents! Good luck to you and your mission...

epilogues
0
Points
epilogues 09/09/09 - 10:19 pm
0
0
"" He told The Chronicle they

"" He told The 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. ""

If this was the case, then why not move the cars, the protesters had a legal right to be there and were not blocking any traffic. Could it be that Augusta's finest are in the pockets of the rich? (GASP!)

I wonder how the Sherrif's department would respond to the accusation of violating the protesters first ammendment rights?

APiratesLife4Me
0
Points
APiratesLife4Me 09/09/09 - 10:20 pm
0
0
If the road was blocked, move

If the road was blocked, move the three cars in front of the house causing the blockage! Seems simple enough.

epilogues
0
Points
epilogues 09/09/09 - 10:20 pm
0
0
If Richmond County won't hold

If Richmond County won't hold these scumbag slumlords responsible, the people of Harrisburg will!

Harrisburg Homeowner
0
Points
Harrisburg Homeowner 09/09/09 - 10:21 pm
0
0
Mr. Weigle purposefully

Mr. Weigle purposefully parked his vehicles in the street to obstruct our peaceful demonstration. When cars had to stop because of THEIR PARKED VEHICLES, the sheriff's department inappropriately accused US of obstructing the traffic flow. I saw a man inside Mr. Weigle's house on the phone constantly. He really had to work hard to get someone to come up with this excuse.

epilogues
0
Points
epilogues 09/09/09 - 10:53 pm
0
0
In any other neighborhood

In any other neighborhood there would be citations or perhaps tickets for the individuals who parked their cars in such a fashion as the one we saw today at Mr. Weigle's fine abode. Guess (drug)money CAN buy you (in and out of) everything!

LCC0256
634
Points
LCC0256 09/09/09 - 11:03 pm
0
0
John man up and do the right

John man up and do the right thing. I thought you had more character than this...i guess i was wrong.

FedupwithAUG
0
Points
FedupwithAUG 09/09/09 - 11:08 pm
0
0
Laff, maybe they should just

Laff, maybe they should just toilet paper the house.

HillGuy
7
Points
HillGuy 09/09/09 - 11:10 pm
0
0
I am simply tired of this. I

I am simply tired of this. I am tired of a different set of standards in this town for certain "elites". These citizens were welll within their righst and following the law. The police should have made Mr Weigle move his cars. Once again we see a government that works against its citizens.

uncleshirt
0
Points
uncleshirt 09/10/09 - 06:43 am
0
0
The landlord protestors were

The landlord protestors were within their legal rights according to the US Constitution and city ordinances. There were three vehicles parked on Mr. Weigles' side of the street in front of his house. These vehicles blocked traffic during the entire protest. The police never told Mr Weigle to move the vehicles because if they did he ignored them. The people expressing their opinions in front of his house were told to move after a Richmond county deputy conferred with three other policemen in three seperate vehicles and whoever was giving him orders via cell phone. The lawful protestors were on city property and posed no threat to anyone. They were lined up single file and maintained a quiet decorum throughout the entire process.
I can only surmise that Mr. Weigle was embarassed in front of his guests and called the police to have us removed.
Mr Weigle- you need to do something about your tenants on Eve street and that's the bottom line.

eachoneteachone
0
Points
eachoneteachone 09/10/09 - 07:27 am
0
0
The good ole boy system is

The good ole boy system is working hard to keep the Hill good and make the down town business district good while letting Harrisburg and Old Town go to pot. Could it be that they Hill and Downtown condo rental properties are "favored" by the good ole boy system? If Harrisburg and Old Town got better they would be competition for the Hill and the Downtown Lofts? There are many rental houses on the Hill and many of the downtown Halterman lofts are vacant. It is time that we ditch the "good ole" boy system and save these good ole boys from themselves. ALL OF AUGUSTA CAN BE SO MUCH BETTER!!!!

Harrisburg Homeowner
0
Points
Harrisburg Homeowner 09/10/09 - 09:01 am
0
0
Many thanks to whomever got

Many thanks to whomever got our discussion back up and running after being taken off the Internet for a couple of hours. I was trying to post when the entire list of comments, including the comment box was deleted around 6:00 am. I kept checking back for about an hour, notified the group of the situation, and sent a Letter to the Editor and the staff writer, Johnny Edwards, about it. Lori just let me know that this was back up and running. Perhaps The Chronicle didn't want the fallout? Who knows? Maybe it was a glitch in the program. NOT.

Back to Top

Top headlines

Missouri wins SEC East, knocks Georgia out of running

COLUMBIA, Mo. - Marcus Murphy scored the go-ahead touchdown on a 12-yard run with 4:38 remaining and Markus Golden recovered a fumble to seal No. 17 Missouri's 21-14 victory Friday against ...
Search Augusta jobs