24 Occupy Asheville protesters arrested at Vance Monument for violating park curfew

After several hours in the gathering cold on Nov. 2, about 60 Occupy Asheville protesters remained near the Vance Monument as ten bells tolled across Pack Square from the top of city hall.

Any minute they could face arrest. Some were nervous, some defiant. A few of them knew they would be arrested this night. They were prepared. Those who remained sang songs and told jokes. They talked about labor struggles, civil rights demonstrations, how to behave when arrested … lots of things.

Around the edges of the group was a crew of specially-trained volunteers in green hats, the legal observation team. Attorney Curry First has trained 11 volunteers to note when events occur, who said what, the names of people facing arrest, the names of arresting officers, and more. The observers act as the eyes and ears of the public-at-large in case of abuses, or if there are questionable acts. They hoped they would not be needed tonight.

About 10:30 p.m., a police car drove by, the officer appearing not to look in their direction. Protesters started to feel they would be left alone. At 10:40 a lone APD sergeant walked up to the entrance of the Pack Place, looked across the street and walked back towards police HQ.

At 10:49, Lt. Wilke and 10 officers walked to the monument. “Hi, I am Lt. Wilke with the Asheville Police,” he started. “It is after 10 p.m. and I recognize your right to assemble, but just not on property in the park. Feel free to move on over to the sidewalk, and as long as you don’t obstruct the sidewalk, you can stay as long as you want.” Several times he was interrupted by protesters with various chants.

See a slide show of the arrests by clicking on Image Slide Show

A protester asked him what was the difference in 35 feet, from where they were to the sidewalk. Lt. Wilke replied, “That is a sidewalk, not in a park. There is no ordinance covering that, beyond not obstructing it.” The distinction seemed lost on the protesters.

The officers left, but returned with more patrolmen in 10 minutes. No officers wore riot gear, there was no show of force, no drawn guns, no drama. Lt. Wilke again asked if there was “anything I can do to get you folks to comply with the law and move on over there to the sidewalk?” His request was refused.

Lt. Wilke turned and nodded to Sergeant Brown, who waved two officers up. They walked over to Matthew Burd, and at 11:09 arrested him. As he was arrested, Mr. Burd yelled out, “I am Matthew Burd and I do not consent to this arrest.”

One by one, the remaining protesters were escorted by two officers to a patrol car parked down by the fountain. They were cuffed, searched and put in the back seat. When the car had two, it went off for jail. The last of the protesters, a woman in a mobility chair was arrested at 11:28 p.m.


Thanks for reading through to the end…

We share your inclination to get the whole story. For the past 25 years, Xpress has been committed to in-depth, balanced reporting about the greater Asheville area. We want everyone to have access to our stories. That’s a big part of why we've never charged for the paper or put up a paywall.

We’re pretty sure that you know journalism faces big challenges these days. Advertising no longer pays the whole cost. Media outlets around the country are asking their readers to chip in. Xpress needs help, too. We hope you’ll consider signing up to be a member of Xpress. For as little as $5 a month — the cost of a craft beer or kombucha — you can help keep local journalism strong. It only takes a moment.

Before you comment

The comments section is here to provide a platform for civil dialogue on the issues we face together as a local community. Xpress is committed to offering this platform for all voices, but when the tone of the discussion gets nasty or strays off topic, we believe many people choose not to participate. Xpress editors are determined to moderate comments to ensure a constructive interchange is maintained. All comments judged not to be in keeping with the spirit of civil discourse will be removed and repeat violators will be banned. See here for our terms of service. Thank you for being part of this effort to promote respectful discussion.

18 thoughts on “24 Occupy Asheville protesters arrested at Vance Monument for violating park curfew

  1. Matt

    I agree with most of the movement, but I have to admit that all of the people that refused to leave the park just to be defiant are stupid. When I saw the headlines, my first thought was, maybe I should contribute to help bail them out. Then I read the story… The APD are some of the easiest police officers to get along with that I have EVER encountered, so why would the protesters try to remain in the park when the LT was telling them just to assemble elsewhere. They were asking to be arrested. Have fun eating jail food for a day or so, and making the movement look much more like a bunch of childish brats. Good Job!!

  2. Doug Sahm

    Matt, I completely agree. I sympathize with the movement, but unfortunately stunts like this make the group members look childish. This city is being very accomodating to the movement so when I read articles like this, it seems that there are individuals who are just desperate for attention. Some think that being a martyr for the cause is going to gain them a higher status within the group.
    Be smart about the strategy folks. Conduct yourselves in a manner that will elicit support and not resistance from the community. If there some rules regarding restrictions placed upon an assembly, then work to have those rules changed temporarily or permanently, but don’t become a distraction for the movement.

  3. Matt

    I just went out to eat dinner and my server happened to be one of the people in the park last night. He claimed that they were protesting unfair ordinances. Well, seeing that if we didn’t have that curfew there would be hundreds of people sleeping in the park and would be potentially dangerous, I stand by my opinion that the Asheville Occupy Wall Street people have turned out to be a ridiculous and bored group that have nothing better to do than to try and stir up trouble amongst our police officers. They didn’t accomplish anything, except for pushing their supporters further from their cause. How does corporate greed and anger about the bail out = Let’s stay in the park as late as we want? Sounds pretty lame if you ask me. I hope that they grow up and focus their energy on being productive.

    • bill smith

      “if we didn’t have that curfew there would be hundreds of people sleeping in the park”


  4. timmy

    I do NOT support the “movement” as they have no clear goals and sound like socialists/commies.

    I cannot believe you dolts who are “for freedom” but find nothing strange about the police-state telling you when you may peaceably sit in a PUBLIC (YOUR taxes paid for it) park.

    The lazy, self-indulgent stupidity in our country is depressing…

    • bill smith

      yeah! people should be able to do whatever they want or its a ‘police state’.

    • TJ

      Hi i’m Hannah. I may only be 9 but i’m a part of this. I don’t need you talking negitive about this. Were just trying to get our money and our equal justice.And were not “dolts.” We are not just going for our money and equal justice, we are going for everybody’s money and equal justice. The last thing you said was really negative. We’re just doing what we need to do, and I don’t see why you don’t want your equal rights and justice.Come and join us and share your ideas.

  5. Clocky

    Public places have rules, too. Also, they should have rules. Just because your taxes paid for a place doesn’t mean that 1) there should be no rules or 2) you don’t have to abide by the rules.

    Examples of other public places with rules: 1) interstate highways 2) community centers 3) libraries 4) courthouses.

    Try breaking rules in any of those places, and then using the defense “but my taxes paid for this place”. Good luck.

    You’re right about one thing. The lazy, self-indulgent stupidity in this country IS depressing.

  6. Occupado

    They’re occupying the park after hours for a very good reason. The arrests exist to get them into court so that the unconstitutional ordinance itself can be challenged. The movement does have very clear objectives which have been repeatedly stated. Please do your research. The group is very politically diverse and if you think they sound like socialist commies then it could well be because the media portrayed them that way in an overt to discredit them. There is no difference in that spot 35 feet away from the sidewalk that makes a darned bit of difference as regards crime. As for using up police resources. The same night of the last arrests of the park, police were called to address the issue of a violent offender at Lexington. A person was punching several people in the face and went so far as to break one man’s arm. They did not arrest this person until several hours later when he threw a punch at the cop’s face. This started well before the peaceful protest at the park that they felt warranted arrests, but a man hitting and being so violent towards others as to break bones was seemingly not cause for arrest until a punch was thrown at one of their own. I’m sorry, but what resources do you think your tax dollars are better going towards. Apprehending violent criminals or arresting peaceful protesters. That was hardly the first time I’d seen them NOT arresting a clearly violent offender and the second time I’ve witnessed them arresting peaceful protesters. The protesters aren’t wasting your tax dollars on this. The police are CHOOSING to focus on arresting them in the park instead of apprehend violent criminals. The occupiers don’t demand they come out and arrest them. Police department chooses that wasteful activity. And then they drive them in squad cars around the block when to walk would have been faster, easier and cost less. Moreover, they did not arrest the person in the scooter. Cited her instead. If it was such a horrible act they all did, why not arrest her too? They also slapped resisting arrest charges, amongst all the other trumped charges on them even though there was absolutely no resisting arrest going on. All filmed, all on tape. That’s a blatant case of filing false charges on people. Said they delayed and obstructed as well. No they didn’t. Occupiers were ready to go to jail when the police came for them. Funny business, lots.

  7. Occupada

    It’s sad and very backwards to me…self indulgently stupid, that people have come to disparage those who take a stand for the maintenance of constitutional and civil rights as something only the bored do. We should all be glad there have been so many bored people down the line in the history of this nation or we’d not only have the freedoms left that do still exist to enjoy, but you might have to get out of your cozy little trance of “everything’s ok, lets go watch some more Tivo and consume more” while the proverbial titanic sinks. Like frogs in a boiling pot of water if you don’t get that things are seriously off and have been increasingly so for quite some time. Values WAAAAY off if you’d disparage those willing to take a stand against those who steal from you vs those who’d take a stand against them. And since you all find it so easy to be condescending from your artificially high horses, I’m real curious what you think should be done instead, or are we still in denial and refusing to admit there IS a major problem here.

  8. Problems

    Unfortunately the Occupy movement is beginning to see the arrivals of other anarchist groups such as ELF, ALF to support them. If they show up in Asheville

  9. Worker

    Hey, Occupada/Occupado, maybe most of us are too busy working two or three jobs at a time to pay the bills and support our families. As much as we all love freedom and our rights we also have to earn a living instead of asking for a handout and hoping that the government will come to our rescue and save us. Some of us know better and can only save ourselves and we really don’t have the time or energy to sit in a park after hours looking stupid. So, way to go you, pat yourself on the back. I’m too tired to do it.

  10. Matthew Burd

    My name is Matthew Burd and I am proud to be an individual in support of Occupy Asheville.

    Some of your comments, good and bad, really do hit on point. This movement did not start as a fight for our first ammendment rights. I feel it is a shame that our progressive and dynamic city officials have tried so hard to disempower us that we have been forced to temporarily stray from our true goal and instead fight for our basic right of assembly.

    I work 40-45 hours a week and on top of that, I volunteer at a non profit organization. I am not asking for handouts. I am using non violent tactics to fight the oppressors of our basic human rights. If you don’t know your rights, here is a link http://www.un.org/en/documents/udhr/ . We are in an era of mass injustice and disinformation on a global scale. We must take responsibility for ourselves and question the authority of those who claim it over us. We must challenge those who oppress us. We must not forget the history of this planet. If we do not take responsibility, then we desirve what we get.

    if you want to actually see for yourself what happened go to minute 45 or 47 on the following video. http://www.youtube.com/user/OccupyAsheville

    Thank you for taking your time to read this,

    ~Matthew Burd

    • TJ

      Well said, Matthew. My standard reply is to respond to negative comments by inviting the writer/speaker to attend the GA and express their own thoughts. That is at the heart of the movement: reminding citizens they have a voice to be heard, and it should not be silenced by corporate (or, anyone’s) greed. Share your thoughts and express what YOU would like to see, rather than complaining about what is not going right. This movement is FOR you. This movement is ABOUT you… us all. Use your voice for change. This is your chance. This is your time. Stand up. Speak out. Be counted. Be heard.
      The need for change didn’t stop in the 70’s, or the 80’s (nuclear threat). We are on the verge of a social nuclear meltdown. Act NOW.

  11. Matthew Burd

    I did not ask “what was the difference in 35 feet, from where they were to the sidewalk” btw, but someone did. I later asked what the boundry of the park was, as to protect those who did not wish to risk getting arrested.

  12. Bill Rhodes

    I apologize I thought that was you, it is kind of hard to tell who is asking what with the human megaphone thing, thanks for clarifying that. And for misspelling your name.

Leave a Reply

To leave a reply you may Login with your Mountain Xpress account, connect socially or enter your name and e-mail. Your e-mail address will not be published. All fields are required.