The Beat

An Asheville regular: President Obama flew into Asheville Oct. 17 as the first stop on a North Carolina-Virginia bus tour. photo by Jonathan Welch

a href=”“Four Occupy Asheville demonstrators, part of a "corporate clean-up crew," were arrested for trespassing Oct. 18 after picking up litter and wiping windows at the Merrill Lynch Building in downtown Asheville.

The protesters went to work around 11 a.m. as about seven others observed, recorded and (via a bullhorn) commented on their activities.

The action, said the protesters, symbolized the need to clean up corporate control and government corruption, while highlighting the failure of Merrill Lynch, a recipient of federal bailout funds, to keep its own space clean.

"We want to see a world where, instead of money ruling everything, people actually have some power, like democracy," demonstrator Victor Ochoa said through the bullhorn. "Apparently, they can't clean up their own trash, whether it's foreclosure documents or what resulted in economic collapse and billions in bailouts.” Demonstrators, he continued, are “getting arrested for trespassing and cleaning up trash: Someone has to do it."

Asheville Police officers arrived around 12:15 p.m. to arrest the "cleanup crew" for trespassing. — David Forbes

Obama launches bus tour in Asheville

President Barack Obama swooped into Asheville Regional Airport Oct. 17, delivering a combative speech to hundreds of supporters gathered on the tarmac to greet him as he kicked off a bus tour of North Carolina and Virginia.

Throughout the 20-minute address, the president lambasted Republican lawmakers for failing to pass the American Jobs Act.

"In this airport, right here in Asheville, you've got a runway that needs to be widened and repaired. You've got a taxiway that's in the wrong spot, which means that planes sometimes get too close together. So we could be doing some work right here at the Asheville Airport that would help boost tourism, help to boost the economy here, put people to work right now!" Obama declared to applause.

“But it's not just here in Asheville — it's all across the state. You've got highways that need to be built, bridges that need to be fixed, schools that need to be modernized. And that's what America used to do best: We used to build things."

The president also fondly recalled prior visits to Asheville (he vacationed here last year and campaigned here in 2008).

The president’s arrival focused national media attention on the city, including a segment of ABC World News featuring A-B Tech’s job-training programs. — Jake Frankel

WE DO civil disobedience featured in national media

About 150 supporters of the WE DO campaign rallied in front of City Hall Oct. 14 before marching to the Buncombe County Register of Deeds, where 12 same-sex couples requested — and were denied — marriage licenses. In an act of civil disobedience, Kathryn Cartledge and Elizabeth Eve, partners for 30 years, sat down and began reading a list of the rights heterosexual married couples enjoy, until they were arrested and removed by sheriff's deputies.

Lawrence O’Donnell featured the demonstration on his MSNBC show, The Last Word, that night. Nor was he the only national media figure to take notice. On Oct. 19, talk-show host Ellen DeGeneres linked to videos of the campaign on her Twitter account.

The WE DO protests, part of the Asheville-based Campaign for Southern Equality, plan to expand soon to cities throughout the South. — David Forbes

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