By Cheryl T. Orengo:
A THEATRE AND SONG BENEFIT FOR THE ASTON PARK DEFENDANTS
WHAT: JOIN US FOR JUSTICE
Fee – Donation
Sahara Peace Choir
Kim Hughes, soloist
Sarah N. and Pip F. two of the Aston Park defendants, will speak about what it means to have community support and they will speak about recent, escalating anti-homeless information.
WHEN: Saturday, March 18, 2023, 3pm
WHERE: Land of Sky United Church of Christ, 15 Overbrook Place, Asheville NC 28805
Sixteen Asheville community members were charged with felony littering charges as part of the Asheville city government’s attempt to repress food sharing and mutual aid organizing, targeted in connection with a December 2021 holiday celebration and demonstration in Aston Park criticizing the inhumane treatment of homeless folks.
Since then, with a shameful backlog of cases awaiting trial–and claims of insufficient resources, the Buncombe County District Attorney’s office is still taking four local mutual aid organizers all the way to trial on “felony littering” charges April 10. The remainder of the defendants who still have active cases are “off the calendar” but charges are not dropped.
As the defendants head towards trial, there is an emergence of a ramped-up anti-homeless and anti-poor campaign in Asheville along with calls for increased funding for law enforcement.
“Using the police as the solution to deep-rooted issues of homelessness, racism, and a lack of mental health care resources does not get at the heart of the social ills we are facing. Police officers are not health care providers. They are trained to see people as potential threats, and they tend to view the situations they face through the prism of criminality. Their presence and behavior often escalates situations and can increase chances of violence.”(NYCLU- ACLU of NY)
Worst of all, Asheville City Council voted last week to authorize $500,000 in federal funds towards contracts for more encampment clearing. This is on the heels of paying $70,000 for consultants from the National Coalition to End Homelessness, to tell them to craft a new encampment policy, because the current one is broken. Follow the money to determine if the Asheville City Council has listened.