About 100 Occupy Asheville marchers — along with a number of visitors from the San Francisco/Oakland area — marched from the local group’s former Lexington Avenue campsite, up the hill to College Street and then to the U.S. Federal Building. Along the way, the marchers were met by several police officers, who directed them to get and stay on the sidewalk. The marchers ignored them.
The group continued to the Federal Building, trailed by a dozen police vehicles, sirens running. Other officers blocked off traffic on side streets. At the Federal Building, the march reversed course and headed for Vance Memorial.
Once there, the marchers chanted a variety of slogans and held signs up for all to see. After it appeared they were not leaving the monument property, the APD left the scene.
The protesters went through a series of speakers, each using the “crowd mic” technique: The crowd repeats what the speaker said so all can hear. There was a Navy vet, now homeless and suffering from PTSD. A woman from San Francisco said she had lost all at the hands of the government, and her sister was being held in some kind of lock-down at her Army base so she would not go AWOL. An older man related how he was from the “Viet Nam generation” and felt this movement was more profound and needed.
While some spoke, a few other protesters made what they called “a rogue mandalla” from pine cones, flower petals, and other natural materials. This was to honor those injured in Oakland, they said.
Also on hand was a new group of trained legal observers, wearing lime-green hats. Trained by local attorney Curry First and working under the rules of the National Legal Guild and the American Civil Liberties Union, the observers take notes of what protesters and police are doing. This allows them to be impartial witnesses should any law enforcement situation occur.
The march, Occupy Asheville participants reported earlier, was meant to show solidarity with the Occupy Oakland protesters, especially those injured in what many are calling a police riot last month. In that incident, a Marine Corps veteran was seriously injured after being shot in the head with a tear gas projectile, and other people were injured by rubber bullets and other non-lethal devices.
For a slide show of images from this afternoon on flickr, click Image slide show.