‘The Mule’ filming gives Harrisburg neighbors some short-lived peace

Monday, July 16, 2018
(News 12 at 6 O’Clock)

AUGUSTA, Ga. (WRDW/WAGT) – It’s been four weeks since the death of “Thumbs Up” Mike Gentry in Harrisburg, and the site of his memorial hasn’t changed – neither have the faint sounds of police sirens.

On the same street where Gentry was shot and killed, a Hollywood production is back in town to film staged crime.

“I feel safe,” said Harrisburg neighbor Kishia Greene. She said the word has been a stranger in the past few months.

The reason she finally feels safe in her home??

“Because the police was riding around a lot last night.”

Now that safety feels like an old friend. It’s the same for Melissa Pratt.

“We would like to give a big thank you to Clint Eastwood and his film crew because that's the only reason for increased police presence.”

Melissa protests every week in various spots around the city – begging for more neighborhood policing. But this week deputies have been sitting near Fenwick Street around the clock.

“Nothing has changed. Clint Eastwood is here and the streets are a little bit cleaner – sure. But it's just for the filming. Watch and see.”

She fears when the cameras stop rolling, police will stop patrolling.

“And now I feel we have police who are misunderstanding what we're saying, which is that we do not hold all police accountable – just those not doing their job.”

But the Richmond County Sheriff's Office says they are working to reduce the crime in Harrisburg – an area that's already seen 272 calls this year.

In a statement, law enforcement says, “The Sheriff’s Office has been and is still working diligently to reduce criminal activity in Harrisburg.”

“Is it going to come to the point where we have to march up and down the street and be armed to protect the neighborhood all night long?”

In the meantime, neighbors tell News 12 they’ll advantage of the dozens of deputies who've marked off temporary perimeters.

Besides a statement from the sheriff’s office, those in Harrisburg say they haven’t heard anything from officials.

Tuesday they hope to get in contact with an official while protesting in front of the Municipal Building downtown.