According to local reports, after immense pressure from the public, White County Sheriff Neal Walden has requested District Attorney Jeff Langley not pursue charges against Shannon Hamilton for attempting to erect a safety barrier at a bridge where his daughter and a friend died in a March car accident. The county has also erected a temporary safety barrier and promised to install a permanent barrier on Tuesday, April 28th.
It is highly unlikely the bridge on Gene Nix Road would have received any attention, and there’s no telling when it would have been addressed, had Mr. Hamilton not taken the action he did. While it’s promising that Walden has expressed his desire that charges should not be pursued, Mr. Hamilton should never have been arrested in the first place and there’s no guarantee Langley won’t ignore the request to prove a point. And while Walden’s move is a welcome gesture, it does nothing to address the unjust charges faced by many inmates of the White County jail and other North Georgia jails.
People like Mr. Hamilton demonstrate the power of regular people and members of our community to make positive change without waiting for the government to act. He also shows what makes North Georgia a strong community and a great place to live.
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Shannon Hamilton was arrested yesterday by White County Sheriff’s officers for erecting a barricade along a stretch of Gene Nix Road that many find dangerous. Mr. Hamilton’s 16-year old daughter, Cecily, and an 18-year old friend, Taylor Scott Swing, died in a car accident at the same location on March 14th.
White County commissioners recently voted to install a guardrail near the location, but work has not yet begun and there’s no indication as to when it might start. County road departments generally have supplies to install guardrails on hand and use existing county workers or state and county prison labor to handle routine roadwork. Given the pace of road construction in Georgia and the fact that there are still downed trees along many major roads in the area, two months after our winter ice storm, Mr. Hamilton is entirely within reason to complain that the county isn’t moving fast enough.
White County has the resources to employ sheriff’s deputies to arrest people for minor violations like the one committed by Mr. Hamilton and fill their jail with people charged for possession of small amounts of drugs and probation violations, but they can’t find resources to keep local roads safe. Mr. Hamilton went away in handcuffs peacefully, saying “[I]t’s sad the community of the grieving parents have to make things happen when the White County Roads Department won’t do it.” The fact that he was arrested is further proof of the state’s intolerance for residents taking community needs into their own hands.
It is our opinion that Mr. Hamilton’s actions were entirely justified and that they may very well have saved lives had he completed the work. Perhaps now that the county has to remove the work Mr. Hamilton put into the project they’ll erect a new guardrail while they’re at it.
The county’s actions further prove that we can’t rely on the state to keep us safe and handle our daily affairs for us. It is our opinion that they are here to protect a privileged few and their actions in this case only reinforce that sentiment.
It’s appalling that a man still grieving over the death of his daughter should be hauled off to jail in handcuffs for trying to help. We demand that White County drop all charges against Mr. Hamilton and erect a guardrail along Gene Nix Road immediately. Shannon Hamilton has our respect and deep sympathy for taking matters into his own hands and putting his freedom on the line to save lives. Hopefully the attention this case has brought can help to do more.
White County Contact Information:
White County Commissioners
County Government Office
White County Sheriff
Sheriff Neal Walden
White County Detention Center
White County Road Department
Email us if you’d like to be involved with this or our other campaigns at: firstname.lastname@example.org.
More on the Mr. Hamilton’s arrest and the accident in which his daughter was involved:
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