Thursday, March 12, 2009

Largest crowd ever ... 1,000 residents protest taxes at Augusta BOS meeting

County residents begin backing up behind locked doors at the Government Center at 5 pm, refused entry because the Government Center was waiting for their personnel to arrive to count people. Told doors would not open until 6 ... and then told they would not open until 6:40 ... people began knocking and then pounding on the glass doors. Access was finally allowed at 5:30.

It was the largest crowd to ever fill the Government Center for a Board of Supervisors meeting as 1,000 turned out Wednesday night to show their frustration and outrage about high real estate assessments.

The overflow crowd packed the main meeting room, two auxiliary rooms, and the hallway. Outside on the sidewalk, another 200 waited, denied entry to the Government Center because of fire code regulations.

We arrived at 5:00 only to find the doors locked. Someone let us in but said the doors were to remain locked until 6:00 because they wanted to count everyone as they entered. Within 10 minutes there was a crowd at the door but security would not allow them in the building. Another security person said the doors would not open until 6:40.

The locked-out crowd grew ... their frustration grew ... even a reporter was stuck outside with the group. Someone started pounding on the doors. Finally, residents were allowed to enter the public building at 5:30.

After all three rooms and the hallways had filled inside, the crowd standing outside sent a security person to find Francis Chester ... he was wanted by people who wanted to turn in petitions and thank him. Mr. Chester apologized to the crowd for their inconvenience and explained that he had talked with the Government Center five times, asking that they move the meeting to a larger building because of the crowd that was expected. They refused, saying they had never had a crowd that large before.

After Mr. Chester went back indoors, as folks lined up to sign a petition, a chant began:
"What do we want?"


"When do we want them?"

It was just the beginning of what was to be a memorable evening.

Photos by Lynn R. Mitchell
March 11, 2009

1 comment:

Bob K. said...

For frustrated people [and they clearly were] they were still a very nice group of people.

I wonder if you Saw the Same Civics Lesson in last night's meeting that I did?