September 29, 2006
A DVD showing groups of Augusta rappers showing off their rhymes and waving their weapons was just released by the Richmond County Sheriff's Office.
News 12 was with Commissioner Calvin Holland as he saw the DVD for the first time...and the former principal is concentrating on the reasons why these young men are acting out.
He says some of them may be dangerous, but most of them are harmless. In fact, he questions whether these groups are gangs at all.
"I don't ever remember being confronted or becoming involved with anything like this," Holland said as he watched the DVD for the first time.
The DVD was intended to promote neighborhood rap groups.
But with the raunchy rhymes come threats of violence, and even glimpses of guns.
"There is a reason for them acting out this kind of behavior, so what we need to do is to try to solve that," Holland said.
That solution could come in the form of a new task force that would fuel more funding for local law enforcement.
We found few people who would talk on camera about gang activity in their neighborhoods.
One man said he's seen it for 20 years.
Given Augusta's current financial crisis, Holland is just one commissioner who'll be asked to vote on whether to cut the sheriff's budget.
After watching the video, we asked him which way he's leaning.
"Oh, most definitely not," he said. "I don't think any of the commissioners want the sheriff's budget cut to the point we have to take some deputies off the street."
A former teacher and principal at Glenn Hills High School, Commissioner Holland says he used to see graffiti and other visual markings of gangs, but never anything quite this graphic.
He suggests that investigators focus their efforts on the root of the problem: why these wannabe rappers are armed and marketing themselves as dangerous.
Sheriff Ronnie Strength told News 12 there are about six gangs of major concern to officers, and those are the ones they're targeting. Among them are the groups featured in this rap DVD.
Investigators say these groups are most definitely the best organized and most dangerous gangs.
Officers also told us they know who most of the members shown in the DVD are.