Community members, activists come together to 'Take Back Harrisburg'

Take Back Harrisburg
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News 12 First at Five / Thursday, Oct. 25, 2012

AUGUSTA, Ga. -- Community members and activists in Augusta's Harrisburg neighborhood held an emergency town hall meeting Thursday.

Dozens of people showed up to talk about crime and the issues that have been plaguing the area for years.

"You have gunshots throughout the night," said Harrisburg resident Ronald Sanders.

"I want to be able to go outside of my house in the evening and sit on my porch without worrying about somebody coming by and shooting me," added neighbor Karen English.

English is also the head of CSRA Help, one of the organizations teamed up to help implement the plan.

Neighbors are living in fear in their own houses.

"We're just sitting targets," said neighbor Betty Bedford.

"It breaks my heart to hear senior citizens talk about they understand what automatic weapon fire sounds like," added community activist Woody Merry.

He says he has a plan to help take back Harrisburg.

"The people of Harrisburg are scared and they've called out for help and we're gonna do everything we can to organize a grassroots effort to clean up Harrisburg, get rid of the riff-raff," Merry said.

Activists, community members and politicians were all involved in Thursday morning's meeting.

"We've got the cause, we're better organized, better financed, than we've ever been before and we should have no problems seeing this through to make this the neighborhood it needs to be," Merry said.

They are planning to use surveillance cameras throughout the neighborhood, citizen patrols, self-defense classes and more.

"I think it's a great plan if they would implement it," Sanders said.

Community members say getting the neighborhood involved will be the hardest part.

"I started to bang on my neighbors' doors last night and say there's a meeting up there, I want you to come; nobody in the block on my street came," Bedford said.

They say people are afraid to report the crime they see in the neighborhood, but the new plan wants to change that by giving them other options on the Internet.

"If people don't feel comfortable calling the police, they can post it," Edwards said.

They want the neighborhood to know that not saying anything is only making it worse.

"Don't be afraid," Edwards said. "Because it could happen to you, it could happen to me. We can't stop it if you don't report it."

This is the first meeting of a whole campaign. They will be having the first free self-defense class for members of the community of all ages on Saturday, Nov. 10, at the Harrisburg Family Life Center.

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