Today another person involved in the Walmart ransacking turning himself in. This story made national news though the damage they caused was relatively minor at $2,000 considering around 70 people ranging in age from teens to early 20’s were involved. I wrote this article because I felt the inclusion of Criminal Street Gang Activity was a bad decision that doesn’t fit the particulars of this incident.
How many criminal gangs do you know that run in a Wal-Mart, not steal anything, and then leave a few minutes later after knocking over and damaging some items? Was it stupid? Yes. Was it planned? Yes. Was it consistent with criminal gang activity? Absolutely not!
Don’t get me wrong, what they did was wrong and I am not suggesting they get away with it without being punished. But my question is how severely do we want to punish them? Does this prank involving vandalism, and let’s be quite honest because that is exactly what it was, warrant jail time or a felony record that will ruin any hope of a future? The charges announced in the press release seem way over the top.
Today the Bibb County Sheriff’s office released this statement.
“Another suspect turned himself over to the Bibb County Sheriff’s Office in connection to the June 28th incident that took place at a local Walmart, located on Zebulon Road. Lekelvin Lamont Renfroe, age 20 from Macon, turned himself in at around 9:00a.m., Tuesday for several warrants related to the Walmart incident.
Renfroe has been charged for Riot, Criminal Damage to Property- 2nd Degree, and Criminal Street Gang Activity. Renfroe is currently being held at the Bibb County Law Enforcement Center without bond. A bond cannot be set until Renfroe goes before a Superior Court Judge.”
Renfroe joins Vashaun Chandler Rozier, 18, from Lizella, Kharron Nathan Green, 17, and Hajj-Malik Markavelli Renfroe, 18 as people involved that have turned themselves in.
I am concerned about the severity of the charges: Criminal Damage to Property- 2nd Degree, and Criminal Street Gang Activity. Really??? That sure seems overly harsh to me Sheriff Davis and District Attorney Cooke. I strongly advise you to reconsider reducing those charges to be more appropriate to this incident and not try to throw in additional charges just because you can.
The reason this concerns me is two other recent cases. One was Mercer Basketball Coach Bob Hoffman’s son Grant Hoffman that received no jail time, he got first offender status and probation and can keep his driver’s license for reckless homicide and vehicular homicide. This guy killed someone and might receive a lighter sentence than some kids running through Wal-mart that damaged $2,000 in merchandise. That doesn’t sit right with me.
The other cases that come to mind is the vandalism committed by Mercer University students which resulted in $8,000 worth of damage to statues. That is FOUR TIMES the amount of damages committed by those 70 or so at Wal-Mart.
Two Mercer students averaged $4,000 in damages each. By comparison, the 70 Wal-Mart vandals averages out to $28.57 per person in destruction.
This wasn’t the first time either, back in 2011 two other Mercer students were arrested after kicking the bear statue off of the platform. these bear statues costs around $3,000 to $5,000 each. I have been unable to find an update as to the charges for those students that stole and vandalized the bears. At the time of the arrest Mercer said they would work with the Macon Arts Alliance to replace the statues. Like the Wal-Mart incident, I think they should make restitution and also do a lot of community service. I do not think felonies on their records fits the crime anymore than it does for the Wal-Mart incident.
Two wrongs don’t make a right. I am not using those cases to justify the $2,000 in damages done at Wal-Mart. David Oedel wrote an article called Who are the real gang leaders? In this article he argues that giving extra time for gang-affiliated crimes may be unconstitutional as applied in Middle Georgia’s setting.
If our prosecutors really want to get serious, they’d quit hounding people like Johntellis Mathis and instead get Cliffard Whitby and Romain Dallemand under oath – and a few other players as well – to get to the bottom of the big-money mischief.
If we’re talking about the practical difficulties of getting after the big-money types, then using the gang law might make some sense. Until then, persecuting poor non-felons in the hood looks like shooting fish in a very small barrel. Our prosecutors, police and judiciary can, and should, do better.
Will sending these young people to jail and throwing the book at them help them see the error of their ways or give them a chance to ever lead a productive life? The one thing I am certain of is that Prison University is the best university in the country when it comes to educating their “students.”
By the time most leave, even if they entered for non-violent minor charges, if they stay in there long enough they will leave as hardened and often violent criminals. Young people are especially at risk for being raped and abused.
Yes, these young people at Wal-Mart need to be punished. Restitution needs to be made to Wal-mart but I am very uncomfortable at throwing the book at them to the maximum when we could be far more creative by making them do community service. You don’t turn kids around by sending them to jail or giving them a felony arrest which will basically ruin any chance they have of ever turning things around.
If the crime in non-violent and the damages are relatively minor, we need to start being more creative with sentencing to try and reach these kids before we turn them into hardened and career criminals because that is exactly what we have been doing.
Both in raw numbers and by percentage of the population, the United States has the most prisoners of any developed country in the world — and it has the largest total prison population of any nation. According to the U.S. Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS), 2,266,800 adults were incarcerated in U.S. federal and state prisons, and county jails at year-end 2011 – about 0.94% of adults in the U.S. resident population.
Additionally, 4,814,200 adults at year-end 2011 were on probation or on parole. How long are we going to keep feeding these for-profit private prisons who demand new inmates, disproportionately poor and black, to keep their stockholders happy?
All incarcerations do for non-violent crimes is to ensure we train them how to turn violent once they are released. It is nearly impossible to get a decent or any job once you have an arrest record. Thank to the PhD. they received at Prison U., often the only choice they have is to break the law or starve or become homeless.
It’s time to stop the madness. Instead of sending these young people to jail, make them pay back Wal-mart for restitution and make them clean up blighted neighborhoods or something else more fitting.
I am not saying these kids are angels, but if we keep the same mentality of punishing them this severely we are only cutting off our own nose to spite our face. Can we please stop the insanity and realize nearly all these young people we are sending to jails and prisons will be released one day.
We are only training every single one of them to be far worse when they get out. We need to find a new and better way because we can’t afford to keep incarcerating and paying for around 7,000,000 million Americans either behind bars or with an arrest record that prevents them from any viable future or gainful employment.
We are only hurting ourselves with this type of unreasonable sentencing and it has to stop. Let’s start in Macon, GA. Reduce those charges and the punishment to one that is more appropriate.
Ain’t no damn gang why the hell they gotta be labeled gang members what they did was wrong but gang activities ain’t shit on that video looked like gang activity these mfs in Macon ga are hell boy but some of the cops got hands in some pockets
I agree 100%. The criminal gang activity charge is complete bullshit in my opinion to trump up the charges.
1. a group or band: a gang of sightseers.
2. a group of youths who associate closely for social reasons, esp. such a group engaging in delinquent behavior.
3. a group of people with compatible tastes or interests: I’m throwing a party for the gang I bowl with.
4. a group of persons working together.
5. a group of persons associated for some criminal or other antisocial purpose: a gang of thieves.
6. a set of tools, electronic components or circuits, oars, etc., arranged to work together.
7. a group of identical or related items.
8. to arrange in groups or sets: to gang illustrations on one sheet.
9. to attack in a gang.
10. to form or act as a gang.
11. gang up on, to set upon or attack as a group.
I agree, its not like they killed someone they were simply just having a little fun being teenagers. It may was wrong but come on now they doesn’t deserve to be in jail for knocking stuff on floor. We got bigger issues then to worry about
* Mercer University.
I don’t think they should receive jail time because I seen what the system does to young men like these yes they should be put on house arrest strict prob stop mainly community service lets not ruin these boys over this
Thank you for this article Alan. For you to speak on the lack of punishment given to people of other races and higher social status was much appreciated. You shed light on quiet a few topics which need to be addressed. I am most impressed due to the fact that you’re not “of color” and voiced your opinion. We need more like you.
Thanks Ashley. I appreciate your feedback. This isn’t about my politics or race, it about being fair and using common sense. Americans can’t afford to keep incarcerating and paroling 7 million of us. we are bankrupting the nation and needlessly ruining too many young lives. We need a new way when it comes to non-violent and relatively minor crimes. We can’t just give up on these kids and need to do a better job at trying to turn their lives around no matter what their race. Smarter punishments that involve education, hard work, and rehabilitation is the answer not prison.
I feel like the punishment is to much! Community service or something would been more understandable geesh the law acting like they went in and started shooting or robbing the store or heolding someone HOSTAGE these charges are ridiculous
They just got arrested. They haven’t been arraigned yet. So they haven’t had a trial or please guilty yet. Which means there hasn’t been a sentence yet. They are innocent until proven guilty. I’m just say’n.
Yes, I worded it poorly and should have said “charged” I had meant to edit earlier but have been extremely busy today. I may clarify what I meant to make sure people understand my anger is over the charges, especially the criminal street gang activity one.
Great article and I somewhat agree with you Alan, however, teach them a lesson, but jail is not the lesson. Mandatory alternative sentencing and I feel any of them under 18 parents should be held liable. the 18 and over should do mandatory community service within 30-60 days, if failure to apply, pay the find.
In the case of Grant Hoffman, the judge gave him no jail time at the urging of the victim’s family who repeatedly asked to keep the man out of prison. No parallels should be drawn between these two instances. Please consider and research all of the facts in cases like this before comparing apples to oranges.
Judges always have the option to disregard those wishes or we would have chaos. Perhaps you need to do some research? At the very least his license should have been suspended.
Ask yourself this. If a armed customer would have shot one of these people because they were in fear for their life, would it still be so innocent? The shopper would have been in their rights to defend against a mob of people in which noone knew their intentions.
In the law, nothing is judged by “what ifs”. Either it did or didn’t, which it didn’t so therefore everything should be based off what happened.
I am unsure of all the particulars in this case so let me ask, have any of these pranksters been convicted before with regards of gang activity? If not I agree with you charging them with gang related activity is a little much and could ruin lives unjustly.
These people should be procecuted to the fullest extent allowed by law. Blacks have gotten to the point that they think they can rob, loot, steal and destroy and that they are immune from being held accountable. This was a gang and should be procecuted accordingly.
Not all blacks are like that , you are just plain out racist
@Donna many people loot, steal and destroy not just BLACKS……crime has no color… you sound simply IGNORANT may God bless and improve your thoughts
There were 40-50 of them, not “70 or so.”
Watch the video and count. I counted 67 though I’m sure my number is wrong since I can’t see them all. But certainly much more than 40 or 50
Forgive me for not specifying. There were 70-80 people, but there were still 20 or so just walking in when the 40-50 came running out. Wasn’t it mentioned that a person got pulled out of a motorized cart as well? And in one of the videos you can clearly see the man in the green shirt get pushed as they were running out. They’re lucky to not have 2 counts of assault from that.
Yes each of us has ran in a store or two, and all of us has done very silly things as a teenager. GANG CHARGES REALLY DEA? Since when has having a group of friends and doing a silly prank ever been associated with a gang? I think at this time the African American community in Macon Georgia and surrounding counties protest against these ridiculous charges!! With these charges these children have no future, and Mr. DEA if these were one of your teenagers doing a sill prank I doubt if you would be pursuing these types of charges !!!!
You forgot that if it had not been for public outcry the Tobosofkee shooter would have gone Un-prosecuted. These kids should be punished but these charges are over reaching. And people say there isn’t disparity in sentencing with regard to color and socio economic standing.
There wouldn’t have been any public outcry without the investigation and articles by Alan Wood here on gwmac. I’m sure he didn’t forget, he was jjust was being humble.
So Alan, what can citizens do? what can we do to make a change?
It would take many books to answer that. But a short answer would be we have to improve our schools, we have to follow issues in our community closely and speak up for justice and against injustices, we have to start voting out some of the bums in the Macon-Bibb government, good NEW people have to start running for office so we can throw some of the old ones out, we have to be active in our neighborhoods by getting to know neighbors who live near each other and take pride in our communities by keeping them clean and reporting problems and crimes, we need more community policing where police patrol a certain area and know the people in that neighborhood well. I could probably think of dozens of other ideas but that is a good start.
If anyone here has the contact information for the parents of any these young people, please send it to me via Facebook. It is time our community takes a stand against this type of blatant bias in the criminal justice system.
No do not reduce the punishment. They should not have committed a crime if they don’t want to go to jail. They behaved like criminals so treat them like criminals and enforce the most amount of punishment to them as possible. I would feel no different if it was my 16 yr old son.
Love your article you hit the nail on the coffin. Why are these kids placed in a gang affiliation, when all they did was do a careless prank. That makes them criminals, no it makes them human,American,kids, etc. How many careless pranks do we as people see displayed on YouTube, television, facebook, etc. They made a mistake in fun, but there color made them gang members. This world is so sad. And to speak on DA Cooke, he is all about convictions and nothing more. He placed a close friend of mine on 12 years probation for spanking his disobedient son 5 years ago. The man was a prior air force Iraqi war vet coached youth for 3 years in Warner robins, ga, a usps worker(mailman) and a civilian worker on Robins AFB. This man had never had any priors, law abiding citizen, loving husband and father. But DA Cooke I feel just saw this man’s color and another unjustified conviction. Now this same man is sitting in prison for again disciplining his disobedient son, which he never denied, and like me feel is needed yet lacking in this country. He violated his probation by being a disciplinarian parent and was sent to the chain gang. Again he was a civilian worker at Robins AFB, proud father of three, coached three years out of Warner robins rec dept, disabled Iraqi war freedom air force vet, owns two homes in Warner robins, and did what we felt was appropriate. But due to DA Cookes over inflated charge back in 2010 this man lost his job and almost his family and we hope will not change once he is released. But DA Cooke is preparing to damage these young black kids lives with felony convictions and possible prison time, but he told my friend he was wrong with disciplining hi is son to keep him out of harm’s way and keep him on the straight and narrow but he’s prepared to send these same very young black kids to prison. Which one is it DA Cooke?
COMPLETELY DISAGREE. We have an over zealous D.A who is trying to make a name for himself. He is so quick to label everyone gang members. There will be no vote from this end at reelection time. Some things got knocked off of the shelves. SO WHAT ? Insurance will handle it quite nicely I imagine. Make the teens do community service in thay same walmart. C’mon Cooke get creative with punishment not seek to destroy young lives. You proved your point everyone know you are the D.A.
Tie’ndra, YOU ARE SO WRONG!!!!!!
Charges should NOT NOT be reduced. Crime was committed and they to pay the price and learn lesson….Today parents don’t teach children RESPECT FOR others!!!!!! PARENTS ARE TO BLAMED FOR THIS!!!!!!!!!
What illegal activity have you done as a teen or adult and got away with it. Sometimes we don’t need to judge,but look into the mirror. If these were your kids you would not want charges like these on your kids. They harmed no one at all. Community service should be enough.
Sorry, Maurice but I disagree with you!!!! I guess we are from different generations….. They disrespected the company!!!!
Let’s be clear on one thing, Grant Hoffman received a light sentence because the parents of the girl that died begged the judge for no jail time. They were merciful. He got LUCKY
Regardless of color- take that out of the equation : for what its worth a picture speaks 1000 words. What do these mugshots convey? Scared? Sorry? Ashamed? Happy? Oh no my mom is gonna kill me? Or screw you I felt like it? I will not say what i see, judge for yourself. Or better yet let them go to court and a jury judge this. Riot definition: 1.
a noisy, violent public disorder caused by a group or crowd of persons, as by a crowd protesting against another group, a government policy, etc., in the streets. 2.Law. a disturbance of the public peace by three or more persons acting together in a disrupting and tumultuous manner in carrying out their private purposes. Definition of gang: 1. an organized group of criminals
2. a group of young people involved in petty crime or violence 3. a group of people, especially young people, who regularly associate together
Well I feel as if everybody makes mistakes being teens mistakes get worse they just graduated this shouldnt go this far … the color of our skin matters a lot on this because if you look at it honestly a white group of kids would have gotten community service or donething but gang activity when you see it as having fun thats a huge problem ! People are so focused on how many people it was that didn’t matter nobody made nobody do anything it was by choice they wanted to have fun despite how stupid it was … look at it as black graduates who was having a little to much fun made a huge mistake a lot of white kids do things and dont graduated and get a light sentence whether my opinion counts or not honestly look at it like these are your kids they dont deserve a punishment like that
What if it was your property that 50 plus young people ran into yelling as a aggressive group, pulling things apart dismantling your furniture, dumped your grandpa out of a wheelchair scared your small children and you did not know them or what their intent was, would you still feel it was just fun?
That is a great disrespect!!!!! This is not a mistake as it was planned!!!!! skin color is not an issue at all.. They actions Is the issue. Consequences should be applied… Young people today have NO RESPECT for anyone…..
You are an idiot. Ask the guy they yanked out of the wheel chair if it seemed like they were in a gang or not. You are probably one of those people that claim they wouldn’t be frightened at all if they saw a bunch of baggy pant AA’s coming at you and your wife as you walked down the street. Every one of those people made a choice to terrorize this Wal Mart and had plenty of time to back out. You really make me sick, but that is probably the reaction you were hoping to get.
An angry conservative, how rare. 😉 I’m the idiot and yet you still believe a false rumor about a customer yanked out of a wheel chair when it was one of the mob and not a customer.
Yes you are an idiot…and you need to get your facts straight. Mr. Clifford Whitby didn’t know Dallamend before YOU ppl brought him to Macon, he simply worked within the confines of the system to help a community of people. Had this been a white business man and worked out a deal with the BOE you ppl would be applauding him for such a smart business move but because he’s black there had to be something criminal involved. Man please get a life and stop hating on intelligent, smart blank
men…..You think because you write an article talking about the unfair treatment of our
young black men black people are suppose to believe you’re not a racist but in the same breath you speak of a sucessful black man as if he’s a criminal Purely because he’s made a good life for himself and his family you speak of a black an that you don’t even know with such malice and that makes you a champion of right and wrong. Get the Hell Out of Here!!!
I rarely respond to irate trolls who are too cowardly to show their real name and use a fake email, but I’ll play along. Who exactly are “you” people? I certainly had nothing to do with bringing Dallemand (notice the correct spelling). You attack perceived racism and then use a racist rant to defend your position. Not very smart.
As for Monsieur Whitby, the quote you are referencing was written by David Oedel not me. Although I certainly agree with his assessment, I find it rather ironic for a person questioning the intelligence of someone else to fail to notice that rather pertinent detail.
I challenge you to speak with African-American teachers or indeed students and ask them what they think of Romain Dallemand or indeed of his BFF Clifford Whitby who managed to buy a property for a few hundred thousand and then turn around and sell it back to the school system thanks to a contract created by Romain Dallemand for millions. I have spoken to many black teachers in Bibb who greatly appreciate my articles and share my views.
If Clifford Whitby were white or any other race, I would be just as appalled. His “success” sure seems to be tied to taxpayer funds and contracts. Can you please point out all his great successes he has had when it comes to the private sector where he had to compete on a level playing field. He even brought in an outside contractor to do the work he should have been able to do himself on the Promise Center. I would love to read about those private sector successes, because all I have found are government type contracts like Promise Center and housing projects. He doesn’t even have any functional websites! What business in 2015 doesn’t have a website to advertise their business??? This article has nothing at all to do with Whitby’s race.
The fact of the matter is you are trying to play the racist card to deflect from the fact that the Promise deal stunk to high heaven. The only black people in town that benefited from Romain Dallemand’s tenure were Clifford Whitby and a select few other elites that made out like bandits at the expense of our school system. The African-Amercican students and teachers however got screwed over royally by all those wasted millions that should have been spent more wisely. I fully support Dr. Jones and wish him well in cleaning up the mess that Dallemand and elite friends like Whitby et al created.
I suggest if you want to be taken seriously you stop hiding behind your anonymity and reveal your actual name. But I’m guessing there is a very good reason you didn’t 😉
Logic dictates if you were a Bibb county taxpayer, teacher, or student you would be mad as hell and wouldn’t care what race Clifford Whitby or Romain Dallemand were. So exactly what is your connection to Mr. Whitby? hmmm…..
(As I suspected, your IP address shows you made the comment from a Sprint phone from Atlanta. You aren’t even a Bibb resident.)
In reply to Alan Wood. Don’t let idiots like that person stop you from telling the truth. You have a lot of support from the black community in Macon because you are one of the very few who tell it like it is. We know you aren’t a racist. I bet you anything that was either Cliffard Whitby or a relative. Keep up the good work.
In reply to “Tired of White People Hating” Before you try and speak for all black people in Bibb county, let me give my thoughts as a black educator of over 25 years experience here in Bibb. We have seen some good, bad, and mediocre superintendents while I have worked here and Romain Dallemand was the worst by far. He might have got support from some black people in the community who didn’t know any better, but I promise you nearly every single black educator was happy to see him go.
As for Cliffard Whitby, you either have to be Cliffard or a close friend. We don’t even have textbooks in our schools for all the students and Whitby sold a school back to the district for around $10 million he bought for around $200,000. You expect us to support him only because he is black? I don’t think so. Taking millions from a broke school system is not my idea of success.
I will be retiring in a few years. I am not optimistic about the prospects until all the BOE are gone and replaced. They are all idiots, not just a few. Send them all packing and then maybe Dr. Jones will have a chance to turn things around. But one thing I can say for a fact as a black educator, Cliffard Whitby is no friend of Bibb County schools or students. He is a bottom-feeding parasite sucking money away from where it is needed.
Yes he is an idiot but there was no man yanked out of anwheelchair
Make an example, we have a wasted generation and society is so afraid of giving them consequences for their actions. If you want to hang with the wrong crowd and vandalize a business, take all the punishment and more no matter the color of skin. Being black doesnt make you immune to consequences. Stop spinning it that way.
Many black individuals do think they’re above the law, not all. But many. White individuals know they will get no special treatment for race. A higher proportion of black population commit violent and destructive crimes compared to white people. Not slight but MUCH higher proportion. Rebellion mentality? Perhaps. But this has to stop. Stop singing color and letting it dictate how we live from both sides. These kids don’t have common decency which they learned not to have from birth and the family that raised them raised them to always distrust society. What can you expect? Where does it end or even get better? Im stating facts and actual perceptions. But these perceptions are poisoning us no matter what color you are. It has to stop. We all bleed red what the heck do we have to prove but that we are co humans??
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