Police restrain crowd - WTOC-TV: Savannah, Beaufort, SC, News, Weather & Sports

Police restrain crowd from taking food after supermarket eviction

AUGUSTA, GA (WFXG) -

Law enforcement officials pushed back hundreds of people who were crowding around a large pile of merchandise outside an Augusta grocery store Tuesday afternoon.

But the goods sitting in the parking lot of the Laney Supermarket didn't make into anyone's hands.

Instead, the food people hoped to take home was tossed into the trash.

"People have children out here that are hungry, thirsty, could be anything. Why throw it away when you could be issuing it out?" asked Robertstine Lambert.

The Marshal of Richmond County, Steve Smith, says the food wasn't theirs to give away, so they had to trash it.

"We don't have authority to take possession of the property; we just have to make sure that it's handled, disposed of by law," Smith, said.  

SunTrust Bank in Atlanta owns the property and they're sending the merchandise to the landfill after evicting the Chois, the owners of the grocery store.

The Chois didn't want to speak on camera but they say they were kicked out by the bank because they owe them thousands of dollars.

They say they offered the food to a church, but members didn't show up to claim it.

That's when word that store products were abandoned spread through the community.

About 300 people came to take merchandise home, but they were held back by law enforcement.  

"These are brand new items; we saw the potential for a riot was extremely high," said Sheriff Richard Roundtree.

Jennifer Santiago was forced to leave empty handed and she says trashing the merchandise is truly a waste.

"For them to do this is a low blow. A lot of people are sad, a lot of people aren't going to have food to put on their table; this is ridiculous," she said.

The Chois say they were notified by the bank on Friday that they would be evicted on Tuesday.

They say they didn't move out earlier because they wanted to work up to the last minute.

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