A band of brightly clad people, many with their faces painted, gathered at Pack Square in downtown Asheville around 1:15 p.m. this afternoon to celebrate May Day. They came with musicial instruments, bikes, hula hoops and water balloons. One had a sign that read, “Quit Work / Join Us,” and another waved a double-sided flag proclaiming “No Bosses” on one side and “No Slaves” on the other. Several people scaled the Vance Monument and wound streamers around it in maypole fashion. According to one bystander, one of them later dragged an orange construction barrier into the middle of the intersection and the group proceeded to have a water-balloon fight in the street.
With more joining in, the gathering then turned into an unpermitted parade that wound through the streets of downtown Asheville — and attracted the notice of the Asheville Police Department. By the time the string of musicians and dancers had proceeded down College Street, turned on Rankin Avenue, wound around the Civic Center and continued down Haywood Street, the march was being escorted by at least three police cars. Using a megaphone, APD officers warned the ragtag crowd to stay out of the street. At least six police cars, including a police-transport van, pulled onto Page Avenue and blocked off the street when the group amassed there in front of the Grove Arcade. At that point, one participant was handcuffed and led into the prisoner-transport van. By 3 p.m., all the excitement seemed to have died down.
Click on the link below to see a video of participants playing music in front of the Vance monument, where the afternoon’s chaos began.
Click here to see a photo gallery.
— Rebecca Bowe, contributing editor