Athens man paints message on building calling out city officials
An Athens man says police and city officials dropped the ball on a robbery case reported at his family's property last year.
Glenn Whiting says a car was stolen from inside the warehouse in February of 2018.
“I thought it was a pretty simple deal. I called 911 and thought they would go and stop the car. It had no tags on it,” Whiting said. “We actually relocated the car with some friends of mine who went out looking for it and the city would not open an investigation.”
Whiting claims the city refused to interview witnesses who saw the suspect.
“They did interview one person in this case and that’s the guy that stole it. He said we gave [the car] to him. I’ve never met him. I don’t know him,” Whiting explained.
Whiting says he has met with police and city leaders numerous times. He has even brought up the case at several council meetings, but says he is now being silenced.
“I’ve been at odds with the city for a while over several issues,” he said. “After the last city council meeting I was told I can no longer come to the meetings and talk about the car. So I decided if I can't talk about it in the meeting, I'll talk about it on my wall.”
With some help, Whiting painted a message on the side of the “Big Belly Deli” building in downtown Athens, which he owns.
The message summarizes what happened and calls out Police Chief Cliff Couch, City Manager Seth Sumner and Mayor Chuck Burris.
It says in part, “Met with Chief Couch and Seth Sumner who promised to investigate. Well over a year later, key witnesses still not questioned. Mayor Burris refuses to allow me to speak at city council about [the] car. Is this the leadership we want? Time for change!!!”
“It was quite an undertaking, but I felt it was a necessary one to bring attention to what's going on in this city,” Whiting said.
Whiting believes the city refuses to work the case out of “retaliation to my outspokenness about things going on in the city.”
But Chief Couch says that's not the case.
“We have spent a great deal of man hours both on the patrol level and on the detective level trying to work this case,” he explained. “Ultimately it was brought to the district attorney's office twice. both times they said right now you guys just don't have enough to make an arrest off of that.”
Chief Couch says his team has also tried to find witnesses, but have not been able to contact them. Still, he's says he’s not sure that would be enough proof to make an arrest.
“We have really bent over backwards to get him a resolution that he's happy with and it's just not going to happen without us violating the very law we swore to uphold."
Now, Whiting is gearing up to sue the city. Chief Couch says Whiting has every right to do so.
“I think he should sue,” Chief Couch said. “But I think he knows that that's not going to get him what he wants.”
As Whiting's messages continues to dry, he hopes the community understands and supports his mission. He says he understands the impact his message may have on surrounding businesses, including his tenants at Big Belly Deli.
“What I'm hoping will come out of this is that people will recognize that we have a problem with leadership in this community.”