***UPDATED at 11:10 P.M. on Tuesday, March 26th***
A historic grocery store in the Laney-Walker neighborhood has closed. Laney Supermarket, formerly known as Gurley's, shut down early Tuesday morning.
The grocery store is located on Laney Walker Boulevard between 9th street and Summer Street. Marshal's served an eviction notice at the market early Tuesda morning... then dozens of folks showed up hoping to take home what was left over.
The Marshal's Office says that when an eviction takes place, any property that is left inside of a building becomes public property. So when people in the Laney-Walker area heard that the food from the grocery store was being set outside, they all showed up thinking they could take what they wanted. But then things took a different turn.
Tuesday afternoon, hundreds of people were waiting outside of Laney Supermarket... all hoping to stuff garbage bags with free food. The merchandise was piled up outside of the building after the store owner was evicted early Tuesday morning. But before anyone could grab anything, the Sheriff showed up.
"The normal process is once law enforcement leaves, it becomes public property. But again, with 400 people out with items such as these. These were brand new items from the store. We saw that the potential for a riot was extremely high," says Sheriff Richard Roundtree.
Zenard Pryor, a frequent shopper there, says that before deputies got there, he was helping the store owner remove items from the building.
"So he said, man you know, I'm fixing to get rid of all of this stuff, man, as long as you work, I ain't got not money to pay you all and stuff, as long as you work, you can get anything that you see that you want. That's what he said. So me and the dudes, we all get together and started working, cleaning up the building and stuff. We didn't know that the Police were going to come in, and Roundtree are going to come in here and say throw everything in the trash. That's wrong, man," says Pryor.
Many of the people become angry when they realized the food being loaded up in dump trunks would be taken to a landfill.
"You could have took the food to the church, you could have took the food to the food bank, you could have took the food anywhere. You all just throwing the food away cause we hungry, we ain't got nothing," says Onlooker Cisro Wallace.
Pryor says he tried to tell Sheriff Roundtree about his deal with the store owner... but he says it didn't work.
"This is a blessing, you don't just take a blessing from somebody that needs it. Know what I'm saying? He might have all this money jumping in different trucks and stuff like that, but we can't. So let us get that little bit," says Pryor.
The Marshall's Office says there was an arrest made at the scene, although, they say it is unrelated to Tuesday's events.
***POSTED at 6:25 P.M. on Tuesday, March 26th***
A historic Augusta supermarket closed its doors Tuesday morning. Laney Supermarket, formerly known as Gurley's shut down. The grocery store is located on Laney Walker Boulevard between 9th street and Summer Street.
The Richmond County Marshall's Office was there this morning to enforce an eviction. The Marshal's Office says that the tenant was being evicted by Sun Trust, the bank that owns the building.
Earlier this afternoon, word spread that the supermarket merchandise would be left outside of the building, and hundreds of people showed up to see if they could get some of the food. At that point, the Richmond County Sheriff's Office was called for crowd control.
Sheriff Richard Roundtree showed up at the Laney Supermarket to let the crowd know that the food would not be given away and that it was being hauled off to a landfill. That upset many of the bystanders, who say the food is needed in the inner-city Laney-Walker area. Many of them wanted to know why the food wasn't given to a homeless shelter or a food pantry.
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