Asheville police arrest Vets after midnight in Veterans Day protest downtown (UPDATED)

UPDATE: Statement from the Asheville Police Department:

On November 11, 2011 persons identifying themselves as Occupy Asheville held a vigil at the Vance Monument in downtown Asheville.  Approximately 40 persons attended the vigil which began at 9:30 pm.  The park where Vance Monument is located closes at 10:pm, at 11:15 pm the persons attending the vigil were advised that the park was closed and remaining was a violation of the trespassing law.  At 11:56 pm Asheville Police Officers gave a second warning to those remaining,  On November 12  at 12:05 am three individuals remained and were arrested for trespassing and transported to the Buncombe County Detention Facility where all three were charged and released on a written promise to appear in court.  All three arrested stated they were veterans, at this time this is not confirmed.

The APD report included the names and photographs of the three arrested as follows:
Kenyon McClellan, 72

Kendra Phillips, 41

Jonathan Geler, 25

Based on reports from two citizens on the scene, it appears that Asheville police arrested three Veterans just minutes after midnight on Nov. 12 for violating the city’s 10 p.m. park curfew, in a Veterans For Peace/Occupy Asheville vigil that began Friday night of Veterans Day before the curfew and continued until the arrests occurred.

Here’s the timeline, based on reporting — via Twitter with the hashtag #occupyasheville — from two citizens at Vance Monument in downtown Asheville, Friday night, Nov. 11, and into the morning of Nov. 12 (links are to photos of the event by @NCMattJ):

9:43pm @NCMattJ: • picket signs at the Vance Monument.!/NCMattJ/status/135185830070337536/photo/1
9:45pm @NCMattJ: •!/NCMattJ/status/135186373744406530/photo/1
9:47pm @NCMattJ: • Veterans For Peace vigil at Vance Memorial in dwntwn Avl!/NCMattJ/status/135186899282309121/photo/1
9:48pm @NCMattJ: • Crowd at Vance Monument has now grown to at least 50
10:00pm @NCMattJ: • A small fire is now burning.!/NCMattJ/status/135189907550388224/photo/1
10:00pm @NCMattJ: • I’ve now left the park to avoid arrest. Across the street, still in Pack Square
10:11pm @NCMattJ: • Still no police presence yet
10:19pm @NCMattJ: • Against the published plan, more than just veterans (about 40-50) remain in the “park”.
10:26m @NCMattJ: • About 50 people in the park now. Somber and quiet singing going on.!/NCMattJ/status/135196731586523136/photo/1
11:30pm @ivanrich: • Asking nonveterans to leave park. Police will return for arrest. Citation, leave, or arrest
11:44pm @ThunderPig: • Asheville PD staging west of the Vance Monument. I expect arrests to happen soon @NCMattJ is live at
00:07am @ivanrich: • Police drive off after arresting 3 vets (possibly 2 more?) at Vance…1 min after Veterans day
00:09am @NCMattJ: • The police are still in the park at this time. Everyone else has disbursed.
00:42am @NCMattJ: • … 3 vets were arrested 1 min after midnight.
00:47am @ivanrich: • Waiting for #Asheville veterans to be released after arrest at #OccupyAsheville

Video from the scene by @NCMattJ (Matt Johnson) can be seen at .

Twelve-minute video by OccupyAsheville is below:



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About Jeff Fobes
As a long-time proponent of media for social change, my early activities included coordinating the creation of a small community FM radio station to serve a poor section of St. Louis, Mo. In the 1980s I served as the editor of the "futurist" newsletter of the U.S. Association for the Club of Rome, a professional/academic group with a global focus and a mandate to act locally. During that time, I was impressed by a journalism experiment in Mississippi, in which a newspaper reporter spent a year in a small town covering how global activities impacted local events (e.g., literacy programs in Asia drove up the price of pulpwood; soybean demand in China impacted local soybean prices). Taking a cue from the Mississippi journalism experiment, I offered to help the local Green Party in western North Carolina start its own newspaper, which published under the name Green Line. Eventually the local party turned Green Line over to me, giving Asheville-area readers an independent, locally focused news source that was driven by global concerns. Over the years the monthly grew, until it morphed into the weekly Mountain Xpress in 1994. I've been its publisher since the beginning. Mountain Xpress' mission is to promote grassroots democracy (of any political persuasion) by serving the area's most active, thoughtful readers. Consider Xpress as an experiment to see if such a media operation can promote a healthy, democratic and wise community. In addition to print, today's rapidly evolving Web technosphere offers a grand opportunity to see how an interactive global information network impacts a local community when the network includes a locally focused media outlet whose aim is promote thoughtful citizen activism. Follow me @fobes

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20 thoughts on “Asheville police arrest Vets after midnight in Veterans Day protest downtown (UPDATED)

  1. Thomas

    This sounds like a witch hunt to me!
    What law did THE 3 Veterans break other
    than there presence?

    • bill smith

      A clearly understood curfew law which they intentionally disobeyed. It’s not complicated.

  2. Lamont Cranston

    Don’t wait for the police state: It has already arrived. Yes, I know that there was curfew, but at some point, a peaceful protest by the very veterans who served and were honored yesterday should have at least some respect to protest and demonstrate their First Amendment rights. What harm would that have done past midnight?

    Absolutely none.

  3. Jim Lytle

    Well, the police were smart enough to not play into the obvious ploy of these people to draw attention by getting vets arrested on veterans day. Seems like the APD, many of whom are also vets, responded appropriately.

    • Barry Summers

      Yes, but in doing that, they demonstrated that

      a) There is no pressing public interest in ‘closing’ the park at 10 pm, and

      b) They can exercise discretion in when or whether to arrest peaceful protesters. In this case, they chose to delay the arrests purely for political reasons: to lessen the impact of these veterans civil disobedience.

      That’s not ‘smart’, that’s taking sides.

    • dankster

      these officers should have joined in !. but wait they couldn’t because they are good little robots who do not know how to think for them selves.

    • ivanrich

      That “respect” Peck just showed for veterans exercising the constitutional rights they fought & served to protect comes from a former City Council candidate. Glad AVL saw fit to reject him. He’s “impressed” by all the wrong things.

    • Jeff Fobes

      Thanks, Bill, for pointing out the problem. I’ve fixed the bad links, except for the last photo by IvanRich, which is no longer in his public stream.

  4. dankster

    how can a park right in the center of the city in which you need to pass through to get to “point A from point B” have a curfew…this is absolutely 100% pathetic! Do we
    ‘ADULTS” really need a curfew on these parks in the city.

    • Selene22

      The police continue to be ordered to perform pointless tasks to control the voice of the people. I’m sure many of them are being forced to evaluate their jobs. They are being manipulated and controlled themselves to defend big money and keep reasonable people from speaking freely. I would not want to be in their position.

  5. PeteMcK

    Just a correction, the rest of the protesters did not disburse after the arrests. They moved (as a group) to the courthouse and reconvened in the waiting area there. WLOS and apparently Mountain Xpress weren’t there to follow the story?

  6. People Power Granny

    Seems that this was a tremendous win for the Vets, even if they were arrested five minutes after Armistice Day. We all know that was politics to wait until Nov. 12. But I call it a slap in the vet’s face. Arresting vets for showing their love for peaceful assembly in a park that just happens to be in the middle of downtown. There should be no curfew at the Vance Memorial.

  7. Kea

    Thank you, Veterans, for the beautiful vigil that was held, and for defending the 1st Amendment even when the police will not. Constitution trumps city laws, and those laws not in line with the Constitution need revision!

    • bill smith

      “Constitution trumps city laws”

      So anyone can assemble whenever and wherever they want under the guise of ‘protesting’?

      That seems a bit of a stretch.

    • Matthew Burd

      If its public property, then yes actually. How is this a stretch to you?

  8. Tim

    Hey I got a great idea lets put a curfew on when you are allowed to carry a gun and lets create open carry zones where you are allowed to carry all other areas are off limits including all forests. Next lets put a curfew on worship all worship has to be wrapped up by 7 am sunday.

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