Occupy Asheville opens with assembly, march, plans to camp out

About 100 people gathered in Pritchard Park and marched through downtown today as part of Occupy Asheville. They were protesting an array of grievances, such as the financial malfeasance of the super-rich, justice-system corruption and a general demand for change.

Photos by Jonathan Welch

Held in solidarity with the ongoing Occupy Wall Street demonstrations in New York City, the Asheville protest began around 11 a.m. on Wall Street, with a gathering marking the memorial to Troy Davis, a recently-executed Georgia man who many critics assert was wrongly convicted. Around 2 p.m., people gathered at Pritchard Park to begin a “General Assembly.” The first half of the assembly mostly addressed process, legal and logistical concerns. Demonstrators were urged to put their accounts up on Facebook, YouTube and other social-media services, because “this is a media revolution,” in the words of one organizer.

The attendees had a variety of reasons for coming out to Pritchard Park on the coldest day so far this year. Holding a furled black flag, Will Hillier told Xpress, “I’m part of a strictly anti-capitalist section, thus the black flag. It’s the dilemma we have of the ultra-rich. One percent of the population has all the wealth, and the other 99 percent are beaten into the ground. They’re taxed into poverty.”

Hillier continued: “I have full-time job and I can barely afford rent, I can barely afford to feed myself. In fact, if I didn’t work at a restaurant, I wouldn’t be able to feed myself.”

Granville Angell, a Vietnam War veteran, held a sign reading, “I’ve made enough sacrifices! Tax the selfish wealthy!”

“I served my country in the name of freedom and democracy, I’m 63-years-old and I’ve come to realize we don’t live in a democracy,” Angell told Xpress. “We have two college-educated daughters, one of whom is unemployed and another who’s underemployed. We could all go down financially. This is not the American Dream, it’s not what we’ve lived our lives for, serving our society. My hope is that this is the beginning of a true American democracy.”

The woman sitting beside him said, “When they’re taking away benefits for us, but the corporations have all these loopholes. It doesn’t make sense.”

The day before, the announcement of the demonstration also singled out local criminal-justice reform, asserting the city ““must come together to educate itself about our local corruption and demand its end.”

Activist Luna Scarano, who recently attended Occupy Wall Street in New York, mentioned a number of working groups from the larger assembly tackling stances on individual issues, including local issues, police and prisons, boycotts, food safety, gender, and capitalism, among other matters.

“So we’re here for a lot of different reasons,” Scarano said, just before another man suggested adding “conscious spirituality” as another goal.

The process wasn’t to everyone’s liking. One older man muttered that the proceedings were “the epitome of pathetic” before walking away. But the numbers in Pritchard mostly stayed steady at around 90 to 100 people. Jennifer Foster, a lawyer and one of the organizers, informed the group about the legalities of protest, advised them to use the term “picket” (which doesn’t require permits) instead of “march” and to stay in single file so as not to impede traffic.

The group cheered at the news that Tupelo Honey had donated hot biscuits, and cheered again shortly after when a passerby shouted “kill capitalism!”

Over the course of the afternoon, the group came to a consensus on three goals — the march, endorsing a Sept. 30 declaration by Occupy Wall Street, and camping overnight in front of City Hall.

Gathering at around 5 p.m., Foster asked the demonstrators to be polite to the police, as “they’re part of the 99 percent” but not to consent to being searched. The line of people in the “moving picket” mostly shouted “we are the 99 percent” as they made their way towards City-County Plaza. Other chants included the old protest standby “this is what democracy looks like” and the newer “we got sold out, they got bail outs.”

There was no heavy police presence near the demonstration, either during the “moving picket” or the earlier assembly. As the march made its way through the Blue Ridge Pride festival (also going on this afternoon), the police officers already there watched. Some of the marchers received high-fives from a few festival attendees, briefly surrounded street preachers protesting the festival and headed back down towards Pritchard Park, where Scarano told they crowd to open up a “people’s soapbox” to “rant and rave.”


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44 thoughts on “Occupy Asheville opens with assembly, march, plans to camp out

  1. Josh B.

    Words cannot begin to describe how excited this makes me. Not in my wildest dreams would this pessimistic radical ever believe that we could start a peaceful, meaningful transition away from the way things have been done for so long. I’m filled with a great deal of hope I’ve not had in a long, long time.

    • bill smith

      What about people standing around with signs do you think is a ‘meaningful transition’?

  2. kbarron

    Thanks for posting. Occupy Wall St. movement is one of the few things that I see as still keeping America Strong!!

  3. Richard

    “malfeasance of the super rich?”.. sounds like class warfare to me. If there is wrongdoing and someone broke the law, then prosecute them. The way it is written, sounds as though they are “guilty” because they are rich. It may seem like I’m splitting hairs.. but it’s the difference between justice and just plain class warfare.

    And “a general demand for change?”… what does that even mean? I would be interested to hear exactly what type of “general change” is being sought? Just wondering…

    • Cb

      Then attend a meeting Richard. It is called the General Assembly and you can find out when the next will be held either on the facebook page or by visiting these Americans in Pritchard Park. As for prosecuting the criminals… where have you been? Apparently the justice system has devolved and is serving the corporate/banking structure rather than protecting the law and upholding justice. Educate yourself on this movement before you begin characterizing it, please. We are all in this together.

    • Sadie Sartre

      “Class warfare”? What the hell do you think it is when health care becomes cost prohibitive for all but the top income tier Americans? And that’s just for starters…

      For awhile, they tell you, “You’ve earned a raise but it only covers the cost of the increase in your health insurance.” Then insurance becomes so expensive that you have to ditch it in favor of rent or mortgage payments. Of course, you may have to try and subsist on a part-time job– one where they work you up to 30 or 35 hours, but no matter how proficient you are at your job, full time status is not in the cards and neither are the associated benefits. You spend many hours hoping that your jalopy doesn’t break down. Bus riders have to wrap up their schedules by a certain hour and that might not sit so well with employers who feel pressured to get you out at just the right time to catch your ride.

      Your checking account, meanwhile, requires that you are perfect in calculating deposits and withdrawals. That pint of milk that was so alluring (because it alleviated hunger pangs better than water) might wind up costing you $36 and change because you miscalculated your balance by a nickel. Of course, not keeping a certain balance will get you into deep kimchee, too. Not to worry, though; your friendly neighborhood usurers (pawn shops, payday loans and rent-to-own joints) will be glad to penalize you for being poor.

      Oh, and some people are eligible for COBRA! What a joke that is! You become unemployed for whatever reason and a letter arrives, telling you (if you had health insurance on said job) that you can continue your health plan but it usually costs more money than you made for an entire month when YOU WERE STILL ON THE JOB! Magic, isn’t it?

      If your rent is late, your benevolent landlord will accept it but he will probably exact a late charge to underscore your miseries. Mess up, though, and you’ll be renting a motel room by the day or week and you’ll be on the streets when you can’t pay $40 a day or $250 week. That prevents you from saving enough for a deposit and first month’s rent on a proper residence. Of course, you might not live to go to work for another day because you can’t afford the exorbitantly priced medicine that keeps you from keeling over. You can’t get Medicaid because you practically have to be penniless to qualify. If you have a child or children, you’re eligible for more benefits but chances are you’ll probably have your precious ones taken away from you before you can turn things around. As bad as everything else is, it’s nothing compared to having to leave your children with someone who can never love them as you do– and, at that point, nobody believes you do anyhow.

      Advance to a shelter where life is about as dismal an affair as you can imagine. You’ll get a decent amount of food stamps but you’ve no place to cook food. There’s a whole lot of month left over at the end of the money! If you’re still working, you have to check in to the shelter by a certain hour. If you’re filling out applications and use the shelter address, don’t expect a call back. Oh, yeah, that one plays out more often than you’d believe! Housing Authority will tell you there’s a two year long waiting list for Section 8 but HUD housing might squeeze you in in several months.If you’re hoping to get a better apartment, the bad credit from all those hard times will hang over you like a Sword of Damocles. Projects? Add crime victim to your Life Sucks resume.

      Absent that– everywhere you go people generally realize that you’re homeless. They stare so piercingly that you wish with all of your heart that you could scream at them, “This didn’t happen because I gave up! It didn’t happen overnight, either! I played by the rules, worked hard but too many ends folded into the middle at once.” When you enter the downtown shops, the clerks (who don’t realize that they might be glimpsing into their future) just might kick you out even though you were going to make a purchase. You’ll sure as hell develop a cast iron bladder!

      You probably do smell bad but it’s not because you don’t care. The assumption is that you’re an illiterate, indolent piece of crap and you can’t manage to pull out of the glass bowl just enough to prove them wrong.

      There are angels out there and they are the ones who give you a shot at fixing it all up. But the deck is stacked against you and most believe you only got what you deserved… It takes years before it all starts coming together again. It puts one hell of a knot on your psyche.

      Who the hell has time to fight anything but the Draconian system your greedy plutocrats constructed and which kicks your ass all the harder as each tragedy or illness comes along. If you’re reading this and saying, “It will never happen to me,” well, you’re so delusional that nothing can help you. As my mom used to say, “Those that don’t think gotta feel.”

      Promises were made to the middle and working classes and they were honored initially. As entrepreneurs and corporations began undervaluing employees (people overseas envisioned as substitutes) and covetous of greater profits, incentives of all kinds dissipated in greater increments with each passing year. Now there is a race to obtain maximum employee productivity with minimum reward. Well, the patience of the 99% has reached critical mass. You think your contributions amount to holding the lantern while we chop the wood. Eventually you ship our jobs overseas but you damned sure think we should patronize your “American” businesses. The gall of your belief that we should buy the goods made by the people you employed, even as your long time neighbors and friends suffered because of your policy of unvarnished greed.

      Even our votes are virtually meaningless now. Your companies are now a more vital cog in the American political process than ordinary citizens.

      If you don’t understand our angst, don’t come back until you do. You can’t say we didn’t warn you. In the meantime, read “Nickel and Dimed” by Barbara Ehrenreich– if you have the courage to allow your perceptions to be challenged. That’s for starters.

      Meantime, we march, we sing, we shout, we plan…

  4. Bjorn

    Media commentators love to condescend to Wall Street protesters, and they endlessly recycle criticism of protests being na

  5. Ronda Nicolay

    I am so happy that we are joining occupy wall street. how long will this be going on? I want in

    • Karen George

      For as long as it takes.
      Check out the movement on occupytogether.org or facebook occupy asheville. Hope to see you soon!

  6. Brian

    Its not like the rich have the right to enjoy their money. That they worked for. People want higher taxes so they can have more welfare. If you dont make enough…GET A BETTER JOB!

    • jamesofthecommons

      Brian,please educate yourself as to the realities of wealth,poverty and work in America.Your comment indicates that you are so oblivious to reality,that at this point,sensible debate with you is not feasible.I am sure that you are a good person,and not the uneducated fascist tool that your comment suggests;so please expand your base of Knowledge beyond faux propaganda incorporated, and find out how the world really works.Do it for yourself,even if you do not care about another person on the planet.
      As far as the rich having the right to enjoy their money.The reality is Brian,the rich do not have a right to enjoy anything,at the expense of the labor and or suffering of others.Hope you an understand the truth of what I just said Brian ?

  7. jamesofthecommons

    Maybe one reason some people would like the wealthy to pay higher taxes is so that our nation can better afford to educate young people,to assure that more people grow into adulthood able to form intellegent and educated opinions?

  8. jonathan sexton

    Tupelo Honey did not donate biscuits, I paid for them and brought them over.

  9. Daniel Withrow

    Bjorn, you say, “Media commentators love to condescend to Wall Street protesters, and they endlessly recycle criticism of protests being na

  10. Barry Summers

    Capitalism is over. It’s un-dead corpse is walking the planet devouring lives, in the form of permanent, ongoing bank bailouts and sovereign fund market distortions. Taxpayer-funded treasuries around the globe are depleted by enron-style accounting tricks and a race-to-the-bottom on taxes AND middle-class wages.

    And calling this protest class warfare? Get in line:

  11. fred english

    they are wasting time. they will get nothing done.it will be like taking troy davis to bank of america to get a loan he got what he deservsd now move on

  12. Big Al

    Watching the death-by-committee approach to revolution in Pritchard Park makes for excellent comedic entertainment. It’s like Animal Farm without the…no, wait, it’s just like Animal Farm!

    • bill smith

      I think you might want to actually read that book before making such an embarrassingly in-apt comparison.

  13. reasonable

    Human nature is a real ogre, isn’t it. When one looks at wealth one sees that it more closely resembles a Pereto distribution–the old 80-20 rule–where 20 percent owns 80 percent. This has been true since the beginning of human endeavor and will remain true.

    Why is that, I ask rhetorically.

    It’s because some folks create and hang on to wealth and some folks can’t hold on to a nickel with both hands. It’s the way it is. Tough noogies.

    If by magic, all the wealth was redistributed equally among all people, it would probably take less than 2 generations to get it back to 80-20.

    It’s the way it is.

    Meanwhile, bundle up out there, my babies! It’s CCCold out there.

    • bill smith

      “This has been true since the beginning of human endeavor and will remain true.”

      No, it hasn’t. But way to grovel at the feet of the wealthy.

  14. Dionysis

    Regardless of whether the ‘protests’ in Asheville serve as nothing more than a source of smart-aleck comments from the usual right-wingers and regardless of whether the local activities are unfocused or not, a significant factor in this whole ‘occupy Wall St.’ effort against corporate greed and the buying of our political system is that it is spreading rapidly, and many groups are now joining in the protests. To that point, and sure to rile some of those posting recently here in derision and smug certitude is the fact that an increasing number of Marines and Army personnel are joining the protesters.

    “The thousands of indefatigable Wall Street protestors, risking their eyes and recording equipment against Wall Street’s personal jack-booted thugs in the NYPD, recently garnered even more support– the US Marines. That’s the type of support that may make an NYPD cop think twice before he decides to go all Tiananmen Square on a group of teenage girls, armed with chalk and cardboard signs (maybe it’s because they are spelled properly?).

    The Occupy Wall Street movement may have thought it broke new ground when the NYC Transit Union joined their movement, but that ground just tipped the Richter Scale with news that United States Army and Marine troops are reportedly on their way to various protest locations to support the movement and to protect the protesters.

    Here’s the message Ward Reilly relayed from another Marine, on his facebook page:

    “I’m heading up there tonight in my dress blues. So far, 15 of my fellow marine buddies are meeting me there, also in Uniform. I want to send the following message to Wall St and Congress:I didn’t fight for Wall St. I fought for America. Now it’s Congress’ turn.

    My true hope, though, is that we Veterans can act as first line of defense between the police and the protester. If they want to get to some protesters so they can mace them, they will have to get through the Fucking Marine Corps first. Let’s see a cop mace a bunch of decorated war vets.I apologize now for typos and errors.

    Typing this on iPhone whilst heading to NYC. We can organize once we’re there. That’s what we do best.If you see someone in uniform, gather together.

    A formation will be held tonight at 10PM.

    We all took an oath to uphold, protect and defend the constitution of this country. That’s what we will be doing.”


    Now let’s have some disparaging insults leveled at these military personnel with the same vitriol you’ve spewed out towards others.

  15. reasonable

    LoL Dio. Sorry, it just isn’t true.


    As a retired miltary man i know what’s real and what is not in these issues. The marines are NOT going there in their “dress blues” as that would put them in hot water.

    “…Members of the military are allowed to participate in political activity in their off-duty hours. But an active duty servicemember who showed up to support OccupyWallSt. in uniform would be in violation of Department of Defense Directive 1344.10, which states that service personnel “shall not wear a uniform or use any Government property or facilities while participating.” Anyone who did so would be subject to disciplinary action. Maybe the activists in the street think that members of the military won’t care and that they are on the way to take a stand en masse against “Wall Streets wars” or some such thing. It’s a nice romantic image, shades of the Kronstadt sailors. But this is not the case. The fact that this rumor is catching fire just shows how enthusiastically delusional the protestors are….”

    Good lord you people are freaking nutz.

  16. reasonable

    Oh, I forgot to mention that this lie went viral on all progressive, loony, truther and assorted moon-bat websites on 1 Oct.

    I guess they didn’t make it, huh.

  17. Dionysis

    “Good lord you people are freaking nutz.”

    Sure, Mr. Reasonable (that is your real name, no?), you are uniquely qualified to make such pronouncements.

    After reading your post, I did a Google search with the question ‘Marines joining occupy wall street protest a hoax’ and scrolled through eight pages and found NOTHING that supports you and the Moonies. Try it yourself. What I did find is that many retired Marines (who cannot “get in trouble”) are donning their uniforms to join the protesters. I found this on many websites, including one run by and for veterans.


    Being one of countless military retirees doesn’t give you any more secret insight than anyone else, whether it be about this subject or anything else.

    A co-worker of mine, who is a retired Marine, emailed me earlier today and told me he has been in touch with a couple of his former Marine buddies (all retired) and they are joining the protest. But of course you would know so much more than him or anyone else, no doubt.

    Now, if you can show where some newspaper other than this Moonie paper is running the same piece (or any other credible print or media organ), it might start to morph into something credible. Tea Party supporters and the Washington Times don’t bring much to any party. Is this the best you can offer?

  18. Dionysis

    I listed one site twice by accident. There are others, however, including that gullible rascal Ron Paul has it one his website too.

    Looks like you guys better get cracking if you’re going to get all of these misinformed people set straight.

  19. reasonable

    I Googled the quote long before you did. That’s how I know it’s bogus. Google “bigfoot” and see how many hits you get. Doesn’t make it real, though, does it? Can you show one single, verifiable source for this viral hoax in question?

    I’ll answer for you. No, you cannot. But I would love to see one, though. I’d also love to see you post something, anything, that isn’t hooey and lifted from some moon-bat, progressive, tin-foil-hat web site.

    On this, I’ll not hold my breath.

  20. reasonable

    Well, in the spirit of cooperation I did some checking for you on some of the more “mainstream” lefty news sites: MSNBC-nope; NY Times-hardly (the Occupiers are PISSED, too!) CNN-zilch; Time Magazine-nada, although they did relate how some Occupiers are dressing as Zombies. That should brighten your evening!

    Well, I tried for you. Sorry it didn’t pan out.

    Fantasies rarely do.

  21. Matt Mercy

    “kill capitalism”? Kill croney-capitalism. And let’s get this straight: the guy down the street who started their own business and is now worth $20 million is NOT the super-rich.

    Let’s talk about the Rothschilds, Rockefellers, and the international banking system and transnational corporations that commit financial coups against sovereign nations to consolidate them into a global fascist power structure.

  22. reasonable

    If we kill capitalism there’ll be no capital to redistribute. A rather sticky wicket, eh?

    • jamesofthecommons

      Reasonable;if capitalism and capital were to be destroyed we would then be left with a deminished but recoverable ”commons”that then could be accsessed for the meeting of human need as a matter of human right.
      The world Prout Assembly explains it all much better than I can,so please google that site.

  23. abe

    If these people dedicated a quarter of the time they spend “protesting,” and actually contributed to society, we wouldn’t be in the debt crisis we are…

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