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.