Some Cherry Tree residents relocating believe high crime rates will follow them

AUGUSTA, GA (WFXG) - Five hundred and fifty nine crimes have been reported in the Cherry Tree Crossing neighborhood since 2012, of those 62 were felonies, according to Richmond County crime statistics.

So far this year about one crime has happened a day in the neighborhood.

Many people who live in Cherry Tree believe that crime will follow them out of the community and into the rest of the city when they're forced to relocate.

"For most of the people out here, all they know is robbing, shooting and killing. Wherever they go crime will follow them, whether it's Southside or any other project in Augusta," said resident Ricco Scruggs.

He's 1 of about 1,000 Cherry Tree Crossing residents who are being relocated to public housing or Section 8 housing projects in Augusta.

Scruggs says because most of the people involved in Cherry Tree crimes don't live in the neighborhood, no matter where he ends up, the high crime rate will follow.

"The crime rate's going to stay up, it's probably going to get even bigger because most of the people here or the people who don't belong here are going to go somewhere else and start it up," he said.

Raven Burton says the crime filled environment keeps her in constant fear.

"If I don't have her with me or my kids I don't stay here, I'm too scared to be here.  'Because of the crime?'" asked Fox54's Mark Barber.

Burton said, "They broke in my house four times since I've been here. I've been here seven months."

Ericion Anderson says erasing a neighborhood may not erase its crime because the culture still exists.

"We're in the slums, the project, the ghetto," he said.

The Augusta Housing Authority is moving residents out of Cherry Tree by May in order to build mixed-income apartments.

Director of Resident Services Buddy Oldfield thinks taking away a crime spot could also take away the problem.

"It's not the residents; it's the people that come in from the outside that come in to Cherry Tree. If we break that up it's less likely to follow," Oldfield, said.

Richmond County Lt. Calvin Chew says similar relocations for other housing projects in the past didn't increase crime.

"Hopefully when they disseminate Cherry Tree Crossing we won't have any problems period," he said.

However, many of the people who live in the community, such as Scruggs, worry that's not going to happen.

"It won't cut it down, it's going to spread," he said.