APD arrests protestors and Xpress reporter at downtown station

Protestors remaining in the lobby of the Asheville Municipal Building at 100 Court Plaza prior to their arrests. Photo by Dan Hesse

Asheville Police Department officers arrested a group of protesters on Friday who had been demonstrating in the lobby of the police and fire station at 100 Court Plaza since the previous day. The protesters, who had been given a 2 p.m. deadline to leave the lobby, asked APD Chief Tammy Hooper to meet with them to discuss policing practices affecting Asheville’s African-American community, as well as the circumstances surrounding the shooting death of Jai Lateef Solveig (Jerry) Williams by APD Sgt. Tyler Radford on July 2. (See Xpress coverage of protests from July 21) Along with the protesters, Xpress reporter Dan Hesse also was arrested while covering the protest.

According to the online bulletin of the Asheville Police Department, the following individuals were arrested on misdemeanor charges: Whitney Ray Eichner, 32; Hillary Brown, 28; Michael Collins, 26; Laura Eshelman, 31; Dan Hesse, 38; Rebecca Nippes, 26; and Adrienne Sigmon, 33.

Following processing, Hesse was released and given orders to appear in court on Sept. 8. Details on the status of the other protesters are not clear at this time. Xpress will update this article as the story develops.

The APD released the following statement:

On Friday July 22, 2016 around 2:45 p.m. the Asheville Police Department made a final attempt to have a group of protesters voluntarily vacate the front lobby of the municipal building (100 Court Plaza). The attempt to occupy the main entrance of the building over the past 24 hours resulted in need to suspend the majority of public service from the building, hindering both fire and police department services.

Police representatives engaged in dialogue with the participants on multiple occasions throughout the day today and made multiple requests for voluntary compliance. Participants were provided with a handout outlining the statutory violations that the group was engaging in. They were encouraged to ask questions and voice concerns.

Around 2:50 p.m. a police representative made the final notification to the participants about the impending arrests. All participants were given a final opportunity to voluntarily leave the building and comply with the law. Several people decided to leave at that point. The remaining eight participants were peacefully arrested and charged in violation of N.C. G.S. 14-132, a criminal statute that addresses disorderly conduct in public buildings and facilities.

About Virginia Daffron
Managing editor, lover of mountains, native of WNC. Follow me @virginiadaffron

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7 thoughts on “APD arrests protestors and Xpress reporter at downtown station

  1. Paul

    I believe everyone deserves justice. However, if you are suspected of committing a violent crime, lead police on a high speed chase, are armed with a semi-automatic weapon and fail to comply with police officers orders your cries for justice will fall on deaf ears.

    • boatrocker

      No, Herr Paul, the American system of justice is built upon the principle of ‘innocent until proven guilty’.
      Guilt or innocence is determined by the judicial branch, and not by the executive branch on the receiving end of a gun.

      There’s a big difference for admiring Marvel Comic’s character The Punisher, and actually believing he is real.

      Civics courses matter.

      • Paul

        I don’t understand your comment regarding comic book characters, but I do understand that if you point a weapon at the Police, innocent or not, they are going to defend themselves.

        • Libertie

          The police have not alleged, let alone proven, that a weapon was pointed at an officer. But I guess when a black person is killed by law enforcement, details and facts aren’t really that important.

  2. bsummers

    I gotta believe that Dan Hesse was carrying credentials and identified himself as a journalist. Why was he arrested?

    • Virginia Daffron

      At the moment, I don’t know anything beyond what I’ve reported in the story.

      • bsummers

        Thanks – I know you’ll update this when you learn more. Without knowing more about the circumstances, I for one am very concerned about the working press being arrested at a peaceful demonstration.

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