Downtown Business Owners Speak Out About First Friday Crime

Downtown Business Owners Speak Out About First Friday Crime (Image 1)

Hundreds of people hit the streets of downtown Augusta for the monthly First Friday festivities.

Last July, 6 people were shot at a First Friday event shortly before midnight.

Many people say crime in downtown is forcing them to avoid the area, but some new business owners say, a new crowd is gathering.

The streets of downtown Augusta get filled with folks on First Friday. But some say it's not always a safe part of town.

“After a crime, I didn't feel safe. A lot of people stopped coming, ” said Casey Morris.

“We had a few beers. I went outside and it was gone within an hour. They found it five days later, stripped and everything,” said Jerry Davis.

“As a girl, you know people creep you out when they're walking up and down the street for no reason,” said Morris.

But over the past few months, several new restaurants have opened their doors including Whiskey Bar, and Farmhaus Burger, and business owners say they've seen the crowds pick back up.

“I think the more new restaurants that come downtown, and makes downtown a destination,  as opposed to going to a particular restaurant,  they say lets go there,” said General Manager of Farmhaus Burger, Darby Carpenter.

Last year, several people were shot at a First Friday event. Since then many business have opened up and business owners say it brings in new crowds, and customers say it helps them feel safer in the downtown district.

“Honestly, places like this – the clean environment, this area needs to be cleaned up. The clubs here are trashy,” said Morris.

Business owners say more police presence could help curb crime, and bring in more customers.

“On First Friday, there is more of a police presence it is great. But if there were presence all the time, it would help every business,” said Carpenter.

“Stuff like this brings in new crowd because its different – you need clean, you need new,” said Morris.

“I think it's a misconception that downtown isn't safe, but just like any cities there are crime issues,” said Carpenter.

Business owners say they look forward to First Friday because it brings in more foot traffic, which helps their sales.  May's First Friday event honored James Brown.

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