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Man Compares Neighborhood Watch Encounter to George Zimmerman, Trayvon Martin Incident

An Athens man said he felt he had been detained illegally.

An Athens man likened an incident in a Winder, Ga. neighborhood to "the incident with George Zimmerman and Trayvon Martin." Credit: Patch
An Athens man likened an incident in a Winder, Ga. neighborhood to "the incident with George Zimmerman and Trayvon Martin." Credit: Patch
A neighborhood watch member said he was only trying to identify strange vehicles in his Winder subdivision, but the driver of the "strange" vehicle felt otherwise.

An Athens man called the Barrow County Sheriff's Office on Dec. 21 to report he had been illegally detained while traveling on Phillipsburg Drive. The man said both he and his son, who is moving into the neighborhood, had been flagged down while driving through the subdivision and questioned about what they were doing in the area. 

"[The Athens man] stated that he felt that his constitutional rights were violated because the male subject had no right to speak to him as he was driving through the neighborhood," the deputy wrote in the report. "He stated that he feels that he was stopped because he was a black male driving through the area."

The deputy explained that as long as the neighborhood watch member did not restrain him or prevent him from leaving, he was not illegally detained. The Athens man reportedly informed the deputy he felt that he was "not being done justice" and demanded the names of the deputies who responded to the call. The deputy provided the man with the information and left to speak with the neighborhood watch member.

The neighborhood watch member said there have been a number of break-ins in the area, so he and other members of the neighborhood watch make an effort to identify any strange vehicles in the area. After seeing the Athens man driving slowly through the cul-de-sac, the neighborhood watch member flagged the man down and asked why he was in the neighborhood.

"He stated that he attempted to talk to [the Athens man] and was met with resistance," the deputy wrote. "He stated that [the Athens man] made references to him being racist and [the neighborhood watch member] broke off the conversation. [The neighborhood watch member] stated that [the Athens man] continued to argue toward him and he ended the conversation."

The deputy returned to the Athens man's location and explained the deputies had found no reason to believe a crime had been committed. The Athens man, according to the incident report, was not satisfied with that response.

"[The Athens man] made statements to the effect of 'This is not over,' and eluded to a complaint and possible civil suit for violation of his rights," the report stated. "A comment was even made comparing the incident to the incident with George Zimmerman and Trayvon Martin."  

The Athens man was provided with a case number and audio and video of the incident was recorded.

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Tammy December 30, 2013 at 04:24 PM
Give me a break....this is ridiculous. We stop anyone that is driving through our neighborhood, if we don't recognize the car or the people. You can not be too careful anymore. I would rather be called a racist, then have my home or my neighbor's home robbed or have a home invasion happen. Get over it dude from Athens.....its not that big of a deal!!!!
Fabio Goodin December 31, 2013 at 11:45 AM
@Tommy - This is the problem. There are people out there that don't feel comfortable with civilians pulling them over and questioning them on why they are in the neighborhood. It's called neighbourhood 'watch' for a reason. You observe and report only! It appears people think neighbourhood watch have police powers and they have mutated it into something else! Neighborhood watch are not trained officers and should not approach anyone or bother anyone. Do you honestly know every vehicle in the neighbourhood, which includes all their family friends vehicles, and do you honestly pull them all over? If you're not a training officer and you pull over the wrong person, and he gives it to you, then you had it coming. Follow the neighbourhood watch rules, its there for a reason.
Alice Pickett January 01, 2014 at 08:30 PM
It's a spring afternoon of last year. I was slowly driving down several streets near Bobby Jones Golf Course to find an appropriate place to park so I could take a walk. I had just gotten off work at 5:30 PM and wanted a change-up from my usual walk around Memorial Park. I love the Peachtree Battle neighborhood where my now deceased aunt had lived for 50 years. I have such fond memories of being there. I live not more that 4 miles from there and work in Buckhead. Nearby is Atlanta Memorial Park which has lots of spaces to park around, but once you enter the neighborhood, you cannot street park just anywhere. I found a spot and changed my shoes. Just as I got out of my car a "neighborhood watch guy" swooped in on me. He questioned what I was doing in the neighborhood and why I had driven around slowly. I was really incensed at his questioning. "Oh, I am just going for a walk, I said. Is that illegal?" He said no, but there have been break-ins and when he doesn't recognize someone he stops them. I showed a little attitude and then got over it. My feelings were hurt as I grew up playing at my aunt's house. Did my car not look good enough to be in this community? I wondered. I calmed down after my walk and realized he was only doing his job. After all I do not live there, no sticker was on my car and he did not recognize me. I was driving slowly down several streets. He could have used more aplomb in his approach, but so what. Dude from Athens get in touch with the way things are; it is not about race. Oh, by the way, I am an attractive but over 65 year old white woman with dark blond hair. I am just the kind of person who walks around in this neighborhood, but he STILL STOPPED ME. OK? You need to rethink this situation.
Mother Reaching Daughters Inc. January 05, 2014 at 07:35 AM
I'm not stopping for anyone other than the police. I don't find this story ridiculous as one commenter stated; if the shoe were on the other foot and the Athens man was trying to stop YOU, I'm sure you would've called the police and said a strange black man was trying to stop my car in a subdivision. I really don't believe you would've stopped. God bless, I pray the world goes forward and not backwards.

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