Ike Williams predicted the signs of gang activity were coming to McDuffie County.
A recent discovery by Sheriff Logan Marshall and Major Ronnie Williamson proved Mr. Williams right.
"It's a problem and we want to address it as a community before it gets worse, because we believe it's a community problem - not just a law enforcement problem," Sheriff Marshall said. "We've got to be proactive about this thing."
The sheriff invited Sgt. Williams to address the problem on a larger scale and to show photographs of the type graffiti indicative of the presence of gang groups that might be active or beginning to form in Thomson and McDuffie County.
One such group identified by Sgt. Williams, who serves as an investigator of the Internal Affairs Division of the Richmond County Board of Education, is Folk Nation.
And just last Friday, sources reported to Sheriff Marshall that graffiti believed to have been drawn and written by gang members with ties possibly linked to that group were found on a street in the Cherokee neighborhood of McDuffie County. The area is just a stone's throw from the city limits of Thomson.
"It appears to be graffiti from one of our local gang groups," Maj. Williamson told The McDuffie Mirror. "This is what we've been looking for the past several weeks - some signs that might indicate the presence of such groups in our community."
Sheriff Marshall and Maj. Williamson now believe they have found such evidence. The graffiti was found last Friday. Different colors were used to draw and write the graffiti.
Many of the words were plainly visible to those that passed along the street. One of the words used was murder, along with Folk, the crown logo and a six-point star with the number 6 in the middle of it. At each corner of the graffiti drawings were the words: Folk. The word Cherokee also appeared in the upper part of the graffiti, apparently indicating that members of the gang live in or around the Cherokee neighborhood.
"They mark their territory," Maj. Williamson said. "This is how they go about doing it."
Maj. Williamson said the sheriff's department is in the process of putting together a community gang awareness seminar - one in which the public can attend. A time and meeting place has yet to be agreed upon, but it is likely to be held at Thomson High School sometime within the next month.
"We want to stay on top of this problem," Maj. Williamson said. "That's the only way we can deal with this sort of thing and we're definitely going to need the public to help us."
Anyone with information about gang activities or crimes that might be linked to such groups should contact the McDuffie County Sheriff's Department at 706-595-2040 or the Thomson Police Department at 706-595-2166. All information will be held in strict confidence, authorities say.