According to warrants from the Buncombe County Magistrate's Office, Natalie Nicolay, Lisa Landis, Joseph Bacanskas and Terry Whittey all face charges of resisting public officers, impeding traffic, unlawful assembly. Whittey faces an additional charge of wearing a mask in public. The warrants were issued Nov. 4. The four were arrested this afternoon, and released on a written promise to appear.
On Nov. 2, Occupy Asheville protesters held a march from Lexington Avenue to the Vance Monument, followed by a vigil. During the march, some protesters refused police instructions to remain on the sidewalk, though no arrests were made during the march and the APD departed once demonstrators reached the monument. Later, after the park's 10 p.m. curfew, 24 protesters refused to leave the area around the monument, and were arrested.
Occupy Asheville released the following statement on the arrests last night:
Asheville, NC- Occupy Asheville organizers have been arrested today, Nov. 5th, for alleged participation in the Nov. 2nd Occupy Oakland Solidarity march and vigil. Arrestees include Natalie Nicolay, Joseph 'Virato' Bacanskas, Terry Whittey, and Lisa Landis. They all have been charged with Obstructing the Flow of Traffic, Unlawful Assembly with the common intent to commit disorderly acts, and Resist, Delaying, and Obstructing a Police Officer. Terry Whittey has a fourth charge, wearing a mask at a public demonstration.
Occupy Asheville condemns the arrests of any of our organizers or supporters without qualification, as they were marching in solidarity with Occupy Oakland's national call to action and general strike. The arrestees include both lawful media observers, participants, and non participants. Occupy Asheville demands that all charges against our activists be dropped without exception.
" Lisa Landis and myself were waiting to be processed at the jail. As Lisa was contesting her guilt with one of the officers, the officer made the off-handed comment that they seemed to be targeting those 'people of influence' and those recognized within the occupy movement . I believe this to be true based on Virato's targeting with a warrant for arrest, despite having not participated in the event," said Natalie Nicolay following her release. "In that conversation, I heard the arresting officers state that they would have preferred to make a public announcement with a list of those with warrants but were instructed by a sergeant to instead pull them away and arrest them individually to 'avoid causing a scene'."
As officers attempted to lead the initial arrestee, Terry Whittey, away from the scene of the closing General Assembly they were confronted by Occupy Asheville members demanding to know the circumstances of his arrest. When the OA members began filming the incident, the police proceeded to begin arresting other occupiers without informing them of the reasons for their arrest and warrants. Virato was not arrested in Pritchard Park but was stopped on Asheland Ave., while driving with his wife. He insisted that he was not present at the march in question, rather he was sick at home.
Occupy Asheville is releasing video of the arrests made at Pritchard Park today, three days after the march on Nov. 2. There are still an undisclosed number of warrants out for OA participants. Occupy Asheville condemns the criminalization of dissent.
Occupy Asheville is dedicated to liberating public space in peaceful protest and coordinating networks of resistance to corporate dominance with our sister cities across the nation and globe.
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