Asheville street people claim stepped up police harrassment of homeless

Xpress has heard tales from a number of homeless and street people over the past couple of weeks of increased police scrutiny and as they put it “harassment” as they go on with their daily activities. Last week a group of five men were issued summonses for 2nd degree criminal trespass on the grounds of the Basilica of St. Lawrence while engaged in what they call Bible study. One of the men, Christopher Chiaramonte claimed to have permission from the church to be on the property. All of the men said they were not asked to move on by police, just detained and told they were under arrest for trespass.

After speaking with the men, several sources at the Basilica and APD, it appears Chiaramonte did not have explicit permission from church staff to be on the property. The church does not generally call the police unless there is a complaint to them or a threat to the property. As property manager Bud Hansbury says “This is a church, there are always some interesting people around. That is part of our mission, and what makes life interesting.” The church did not call police on Chiaramonte’s group and was not aware of the situation. Like many establishments in urban areas, they do have an agreement with APD about trespassing, and the property is posted.

An APD spokesman says there is no change in the city’s enforcement of quality of life laws downtown. According to Lt. Wally Welch, “The weather is nice, the bicycle, foot, and Segway patrols are more active, there is bound to be more activity with these types of incidents.”

So, draconian crackdown? Or just a normal run of events? Let us hear from you.


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.

7 thoughts on “Asheville street people claim stepped up police harrassment of homeless

  1. Matthew Burd

    Somebody is lying and it will come out in court who that is. The police do not have the authotity to arrest anyone for trespassing unless the owner of the property or the person responcible for the property first asks them to leave. Police may not enter private property without explicit permision or a warrent. Either the Church is lying or the APD has broken a few laws here and will be subject to lawsuit.

    Empower yourself with knowledge

    • bill smith

      Do police not have the authority to enforce a posted ‘no trespassing’ sign?

      “Police may not enter private property without explicit permision or a warrent”

      You might want to research that a bit further.

      Empower yourself with knowledge

  2. missemmalee

    I was kinda speeding. I got a ticket. Someone is OBVIOUSLY lying. Can I sue?

    The only police action that is in any predicament here is the Grammar Police.

  3. Matthew Burd

    The only police action that is in a predicament here is they don’t know the law.

  4. sharpleycladd

    This is CNN-journalism. “They said this, but he said that – what do YOU think?”

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.