Occupy Asheville protesters pick up litter, wipe windows at Merrill-Lynch building, 4 arrested

Four Occupy Asheville demonstrators, part of a “corporate clean-up crew” were arrested for trespassing this afternoon after picking up litter and wiping windows on the Merrill-Lynch building in downtown.

Starting around 11 a.m., the protesters, with about seven others observing, recording and (via a hand-held megaphone) commenting on their activities.

The protesters asserted that the action was meant to highlight the need to clean-up corporate control and government corruption, while highlighting that a building occupied by Merrill-Lynch, a recipient of bail-out funds, couldn’t keep its own space clean.

“We want to see a world where, instead of money ruling everything, people actually have some power, like democracy,” demonstrator Victor Ochoa said through the megaphone. “Apparently, they can’t clean up their own trash, whether it’s foreclosure documents, or what resulted in economic collapse and billions in bailouts. They’re getting arrested for trespassing and cleaning up trash; someone has to do it.”

Starting around 12:15 a.m., Asheville Police Department officers arrived to arrest the “clean-up crew” for trespassing.

“It was public spectacle, this was to be expected,” Martin Ramsey, part of the clean-up crew, said. “They said there’s a line here between public and private property, but it all looks outside to me. I don’t really care whether they say it’s a public or private sidewalk, because that distinction seems ridiculous, especially considering our current situation.”

When APD officers instructed him to come over to a nearby police vehicle, Ramsey slowly put down his sponge and walked over to be handcuffed.

“There’s a lot of things in Asheville that need to be cleaned up,” Amy Hamilton told Xpress of her reasons for participating in the clean-up, as she sat handcuffed on the curb, awaiting transport by the APD. Earlier, she’d shouted “welcome to Asheville” to passerby as she was being arrested, her cleaning gloves still on.

“There’s a lot of trash around here, and a lot of clean-up to be done,” Hamilton said.

Demonstrator Olof Pohlson said the protesters had issues with a private security guard earlier, who he claimed had threatened to pepper-spray demonstrators. However, Pohlson praised the APD’s conduct throughout the incident.

After the arrests, an APD sergeant told Ochoa that, according to city ordinance, he couldn’t use the megaphone, though he was free to talk in his own voice.

Full names and charges for all the demonstrators are forthcoming, but an APD officer on the scene said charges of second-degree trespassing are most likely.

The arrests are the first associated with an officially endorsed action by the Occupy Asheville demonstrators, as representatives released an announcement of the “clean-up crew” earlier this morning.

The protests began Oct. 1, in solidarity with the Occupy Wall Street protests, and have continued with regular “moving pickets” and general assemblies. The announcement earlier today mentioned. Currently the city of Asheville has permitted the demonstrators to camp in a parking lot under the Lexington Avenue overpass, pending the negotiation of a more permanent spot.


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32 thoughts on “Occupy Asheville protesters pick up litter, wipe windows at Merrill-Lynch building, 4 arrested

  1. LOKEL

    What a hoot.

    Only in AVL would folks be arrested for voluntarily washing windows …. be they protestors or not.

  2. ashevillain7

    Correct me if I’m wrong but isn’t the name of that building the Biltmore Building?

  3. Woolburr

    Seriously? Arrested for picking up litter and washing windows? Did super-duper mall cop wannabe pepper spray himself and then demand an arrest?

  4. Barry Summers

    Only in AVL would folks be arrested for voluntarily washing windows

    I think the fact that Merrill-Lynch threatened to pepper spray them & then called to have them arrested speaks volumes. You don’t want one little corner cleaned, because then the gigantic filthy mess jumps out in sharp contrast.

    And yes, I know it’s all metaphoric hash, and that what would you do if some hippy was on your property causing you embarrassment, blah blah blah…

    I think it was an inspired thing to do, and good on these folks for being willing to face arrest to make an important point.

  5. FallinLoveNotInLine

    Thank you Martin and Amy for helping to clean up corporate mess! Someone has to do it, and it sure as hell isn’t the the people making it.
    Hilarious that the police feel the need to arrest people cleaning. Is that really keeping the public safe? Keeping people safe from streak-free windows.

    • D. Dial

      I think it’s a stellar symbolism….maybe they also could begin sweeping up the streets and cleaning the signs, sprucing things up all the while with signs about cleaning up local Government.

      Hit every big institution & business in town who has created the monumental problems we now face.

  6. Sean

    They are called private property laws people. It doesn’t matter if the protestors were throwing money at them. If they don’t want someone on their property that’s how it goes.

    • matthew

      It’s sort of like keeping black folks out of Woolworth Walk. Private property should be protected from people who aren’t doing anything wrong

    • Barry Summers

      It doesn’t matter if the protestors were throwing money at them.

      That might make for an exciting and pertinent protest in itself. I wonder if Merrill-Lynch could have someone arrested for throwing money at them?

  7. dollarsequalslives

    It’s this kind of demonstration of force that really illuminates the level of oppression we remain blissfully unaware of every single day! The state can barely tolerate the mere existence of these protesters…god forbid they make a statement. Hats off to these folks, for they have personal integrity and the audacity to stand up for what is right!

  8. Northern Paladin

    I suspect the arrests had a lot more to do with the bullhorn than the cleaning. If someone was outside my house picking up trash and cleaning windows, I’d probably let them be. The moment they started shouting through a bullhorn, I’d call the cops.

  9. bill smith

    “Private property should be protected from people who aren’t doing anything wrong”

    So you would be cool with me coming to your home (assuming it is your property) and just hang out and watch teevee and stuff? Maybe flick some pennies at you?

  10. bill smith

    “I wonder if Merrill-Lynch could have someone arrested for throwing money at them?”

    More like they would get them elected. Depending on how much money, of course.

  11. rich white guy

    Why yes, it’s all Wall Street.

    Yet we never seem to question student debt pushed by government.

    Fanny and Freddie, the regulations pushed by government for banks to make sub-prime loans in order to promote housing equality.

    And if all else fails liberals, you can always call those you hate racist. It’s like the old Wendy’s commercial of yore that asked where’s the beef. No where near your ignorant minds for sure. Problem with that is most of you rarely venture out of your own clicks to even try and dispell your own hypocrisy. For sure the only racist here are you.

    Your words and your class warfare are not going to get you anything but a bunch of injured and even dead useful idiots. And let is all not forget that you gladly wanted in debt to the tune of tens of thousands for absolutely nothing of value. All the while constantly raising tuition to pay for left wing loons to not only project their ideological filth and lies, but to enrich themselves as well. Obviously you forgot to tell many who actually do have a stake in the nation, pay taxes, and ensure prosperity that they are responsible for liberalism failures. Maybe you should set the example for us all and give the government a majority of your money first.

    Whatever happens to these kids loons, you are by far more responsible for it than any trader, any capitalist, or any private corporation has ever been.

    • sharpleycladd

      Student loans and home ownership serve the national interest and grow the economy. The liberal “clique” does not have a monopoly on accusations of racism. Class warfare has been going on since Reagan, and the upper class is winning. Other than everything you said, you’re right on target.

  12. Cat

    The protesters were arrested by the APD for trespassing and using the bullhorn, not for cleaning windows and litter. It is not the officers we should be mad at, its the company who called them.

    Hey, “rich white guy,” do you honestly think tuition raises are going towards pay raises and the hiring of professors? Its not. This movement isn’t about (idealistic) liberalism or conservatism–its about fairness and addressing our country’s current state.

  13. ashevillelokel

    When did the City pass an ordinance banning amplified human speech?

    Why does this law not cover the “preachers” at Bele Chere?

  14. localworker

    How do I join the cleaning crew? I know of a few banks that could use a deep cleaning.

  15. alishome

    A lot more could have been accomplished if the ceo came out with candy and a thank you.

  16. Michael Hopping

    Seems that Merrill Lynch is engaged in its own little cleanup–by transferring risky derivative assets to parent company Bank of America. Why? Bank of America assets are covered by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation; Merrill Lynch assets are not. So when these derivatives fail, Bank of America collects from FDIC. Once again, taxpayers get hosed.

    These shenanigans are what happens when both major political parties are in the corporate pocket. Republicans want to deregulate (again) ensuring the continued gaming of the financial system and holding governments hostage with corps too big to fail. Dems do their bit by trying to prop up consumer demand–corps need customers–and serving at least theoretically as a check against the worst excesses of the Tea Party agenda–such as crashing the economy by failing to raise the debt ceiling.

    So long as the corps can keep the federal government embroiled in the sort of political debates we’re having, the question of breaking up the too big to fails and prosecuting some CEOs for the frauds they’ve engineered don’t arise in official Washington.

    But those questions have arisen in the streets. The Occupy movement deserves great credit for making that happen. It’s an ongoing national shame that, once again, the corporate criminals remain free while those who point them out are led away in handcuffs.

    • Kris

      so in other words we need to act more like terrorists because talking wont get anything done…. :(

  17. Jeff

    It is all open space out there and there is no obvious distinction between where the private property begins. I’ve never noticed a “no tresspassing” sign there. I’ve been to full blown concerts at that spot. To me it looks like a perfect place to peacefully protest.

  18. joe

    call Merril Lynch at 828-2546331, 828-254-6331 let them know what you think about this stunt.

  19. Big Al

    Let us dispense with the LIE that OA was trying to do Merril-Lynch a FAVOR by cleaning their windows and picking up trash. OA was seeking to embarrass ML by subtly portraying them as yet another “evil corporation” that needs “cleaning up”. They were engaged in illegal trespass with hostile intent, not philantropy. To suggest otherwise by acting out, THEN professing their innocence and benevolence, is dishonest and disengenuous and will keep the “occupy” movements from ever growing beyond a fringe minority or gaining significant public support.

    If your cause is SO important, stop hiding behind legalese, boldly proclaim your goals, take action AND responsability for it, and gladly suffer the consequences. Ghandi and MLK did not complain when they were jailed for their meaningful acts of civil disobediance. OA is proving that they are nothing more than fecetious brats, not true patriots or heroes to any ideal above and beyond themselves.

  20. zensane

    Big Al, no one from Occupy is portraying it differently except in tongue in cheek fashion. For the record, Occupy created new jobs by doing that. The windows were genuinely dirty and the lawn genuinely trashy. Merrill Lynch has since hired two teams of workers to maintain the windows and do garbage control. =)

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