Sit-in will protest removal of benches in Asheville ***UPDATED 4 P.M. FRIDAY***

Sit-in will protest removal of benches in Asheville ***UPDATED 4 P.M. FRIDAY***-attachment0

A group of “concerned citizens” will hold a sit-in at noon this Sunday to protest the city’s removal of two park benches in front of Pack Memorial Library. The city has announced that the Asheville Police Department will remove protesters if they impede traffic on the sidewalk.

“The city’s decision to remove two benches in front of Pack Memorial Library was a blatant attempt to push homeless people further and further out of sight. Instead of reacting in a consistently compassionate manner to the serious problem of homelessness, many city officials, residents, and businesses seem determined to treat their homeless neighbors as undesirable garbage that should be promptly disposed of,” a release from the unnamed group, whose contact person is Drinking Liberally host Douglas Ewen declares. “Where are we as a society if homeless people are not allowed to sit on a public bench on a public sidewalk and rest for a while? And, by the way, all Asheville residents – homeless or not – enjoyed those public benches.”

The sit-in will take place on the site of the benches, which the city removed after receiving complaints about criminal behavior from business and condominium owners in the area.

***UPDATE*** Meanwhile, city spokesperson Trish Hardin announced in a memo to the mayor and Asheville City Council on Friday that the “APD will monitor the situation. Protestors will not be allowed to block the streets or sidewalks. If they impede the free movement of other people they will be warned and if the problem is not corrected APD will take enforcement action.”

City Council member Carl Mumpower, in an e-mail replying to the memo, said that he might join the protesters — though for very different reasons.

“Removing the benches was an act of surrender,” Mumpower wrote. “We found a temporary solution to criminal behavior by removing the play toys of a group of predatory pan handlers rather than enforce the law and our community’s standards. The long-term consequences of temporary accommodations to misbehavior are rarely positive.”

The full release from the protesters is below.

— David Forbes, staff writer

————————————————————————————————————————————

For Immediate Release:
November 21, 2008

Asheville, NC The city’s decision to remove two benches in front of Pack Memorial Library was a blatant attempt to push homeless people further and further out of sight.
Instead of reacting in a consistently compassionate manner to the serious problem of homelessness, many city officials, residents, and businesses seem determined to treat their homeless neighbors as undesirable garbage that should be promptly disposed of. First it was Pritchard Park and now it’s Haywood Street.
In order to bring attention to this latest thinly veiled attack on our Asheville neighbors who happen to be homeless, a group of concerned citizens will stage a sit-in at the site of the missing benches.
TIME:      12:00 Noon
DATE:    Sunday November 23, 2008
PLACE:    In front of Pack Memorial Library      
Protestors want to send a message that we should treat all of our fellow citizens with respect and dignity and focus all of our energies on eliminating the serious problem of homelessness.
Where are we as a society if homeless people are not allowed to sit on a public bench on a public sidewalk and rest for a while? And, by the way, all Asheville residents – homeless or not – enjoyed those public benches.

For more information:

CONTACT
Douglas Ewen
dpewen@bellsouth.net
828-712-8411

 

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112 thoughts on “Sit-in will protest removal of benches in Asheville ***UPDATED 4 P.M. FRIDAY***

  1. West Asheville

    We have got to get rid of all these homeless people in Asheville. They have become quite a nuisance. I can’t even check out a book without being harrassed. It is my right to go downtown and not be bothered by vagrants and bums. They may have a right to use benches, but that does not mean they can camp out on them and use them as beds. There are plenty of underpasses, gutters, and alleys where they can hide and be out of sight out of mind.

  2. TaxPayer

    Honestly, how can you actually be serious? I applaud our city for getting rid of these benches and making that area safer. I have hated taking the kids to Pack Library because of the bums outside on those benches who make odd comments and beg for money. It’s embarrasing. These homeless do nothing but sit around and beg, when they could be looking for work or doing community service. Get real Doug Ewen, find these bums a job instead of a bench.

  3. Trey

    You ever see the movie PCU???

    Students graduate from there and move here to raise families.

  4. dave

    It does seem obvious they are making downtown less available for anyone other than Consumers who live at the Cliffs.

  5. Chad Nesbitt

    Leave it to Hoolie’s “Drinking Liberally” crowd to protest a bench. LOL

  6. DonM

    Doug Ewen,
    Why don’t you house several in your Sawyer condo? With your passion for the plight of the homeless, many of which are NOT local but bussed here from other locales, I’m sure you can single-handedly solve this thorny (and funky) issue. Give it a shot and report back in two months.

    Take action–personal responsibility. Don’t just whine about it. You’re the guy that can make it work. We’re looking to you to fix this thing.

  7. dave

    DonM- Do you have any solutions you could share about the homeless “problem”?

    Chad-Nobody said anything about ‘spreading the wealth’ You are having a debate with yourself on that one, buddy.

  8. dave

    Jason-I get the distinct impression Mr. Nesbitt does not know his “left” from his “right”.

  9. Jeff

    The benches were also removed from Wall Street. Although with much less fanfare.

  10. JOHN-C

    I think the city should do more…

    local residents and shop owners have been complaining for years and homelessness keeps getting worse

    The removal of the bench is appropriate as it will help stop crime and disturbance in that area but we also need a more extensive plan to uncover and treat the roots of homelessness in Asheville

    Wake up local city officials. “Band Aids” fall off

  11. shadmarsh

    I’m sure Jesus would agree with Chad. Why he even says so in his often quoted book: “Ye shall ignore thine homeless, on account of their unpleasantness, and blame everything on the satanic libruls” Jeebus, 4:19

  12. Douglas Ewen

    Hey Chad and the rest of you compasionate people … come join us … or would you just rather make silly comments and sit on your couch?
    The stompers are truely something to behold … racist and spreading hate … nice job Chad.

  13. Gordon Smith

    Here’s hoping that all the folks who are annoyed by the homeless are willing to offer money or time towards alleviating the problem. I imagine that many would rather just sweep them off the streets – out of sight, out of mind.

    Homelessness is a serious problem, and it requires continued attention if we hope to put a dent into it.

    I’ve been harassed by folks in front of the library as well, but it always helps me to remember that human beings are human beings.

  14. moonbird

    I find it amusing that people believe it is their right to walk outside of their house and not encounter other people. Probably best to remain in one of the many fine sanitized Virtual Worldz than experience commoners!

  15. “…many city officials, residents, and businesses seem determined to treat their homeless neighbors as undesirable garbage that should be promptly disposed of.”

    In specifically what way does the removal of a bench treat “homeless neighbors” as trash?

  16. Ashevegasjoe

    Seems like an arguement to better fund the mental health hospitals that kick these people out in the first place

  17. Reality Check

    I hate to model anything after Charlotte, but they had a serious problem like this downtown 15 years ago. They built a bus station that provided a lot overhead cover and places to sit and hang out. It totally cleared the retail sidewalks and gave the homeless a dry place to hang out.

  18. Guess we’ll never see any homeless people downtown now… I heard the city plans to remove several downtown restaurants to keep people from getting so fat. They might want to consider putting pictures of the homeless people on the APD website… that worked so well for prostitution. Shame the homeless people into not being homeless.

  19. Buck

    Causing a public disturbance is a crime if someone is drunk, violent, panhandling, or causing a scene put them in jail! But it’s no crime to sit down and rest your feet as long as you’re minding your own business, even if you are homeless. If someone harasses you call the police it’s their job to enforce the laws. But if you just don’t like someone’s looks that’s your problem, deal with it!

  20. It’s just a bench! No law says the City has to provide benches. And, in fact, along most streets, do not. Streets and roads are thoroughfares, not lounges.

    Move along now, nothing to see here.

  21. And the BIG question! In the article it says there’s going to be a “sit-down” … where they gonna sit if the benches have been removed? Some great planning going on there.

    How about a “stand-in”? Or a “jump-up-and-down-and-wail-in” … those would be possible.

  22. bobaloo

    I’ve been harassed by folks in front of the library as well, but it always helps me to remember that human beings are human beings.

    With all due respect Gordon, I could care less. It’s disturbing and harassing.
    If it was any other person that acted the way some of the homeless do you’d be pissed to be talked to that way.

    I certainly acknowledge the fact that they are in an awful position in their lives, but it doesn’t excuse some of the behavior I’ve seen.

    I find it amusing that people believe it is their right to walk outside of their house and not encounter other people.

    Er, no. It’s their right to walk around downtown without being harassed.

  23. TaxPayer

    Well, I would rather sit on my couch because I own a couch, I have a right to that couch, I earned that couch by working a real job. These bums did not earn the right to sit on the bench and beg. If I come by there Sunday I would laugh at you because your stupid for sitting out in the cold, just like the bums are! And really, nobody cares. These bums are unpredictable and violent, terrible for downtown business. I have been nearly mugged by a guy who said he was homeless and needed money! No way, get ’em out of here and send ’em back to wherever their hopes and dreams died before they kill this city too.

  24. Douglas Ewen

    hey taxpayer chill out and see someone about that anger problem of yours!
    You need to enjoy life like I do … do compasionate things and help the less fortunate … it’s a great thing.

  25. nuvue

    Very touching arguments here….but I don’t remember the benches hurting anyone. Matter of fact my Mother in law enjoyed sitting there till I could bring the car around and get her. The elderly and infirmed who go to town need a place to chill or they may go elsewhere. Benches should be a welcome respite from the sidewalk or shopping. It reminds me of Charlotte cutting down a beautiful old Oak cuz people hung out there and were known to deal drugs….don’t look at the problems…. another saying comes to mind…cutting off your nose to spite your face….

  26. icn4d

    I live about 2 blocks from where the benches used to be and honestly I never saw anyone other than Homeless sit there…I wonder of the people that are in this sit-in, how many have come down and actually used the benches. Many morning I would love to sit there and drink my coffee, but I can’t there is usually someone sleeping there, just threw up on the seat, smells bad, or just quite frankly not going to make an enjoyable day if I sit next too…

    I will miss the benches, but until the city controls the homeless population, they useless…

  27. icn4d

    Also, I lived in greenville, NC, looks like there study was cited above. I can tell you, take care of this now before it gets out of hand!

    Yeah, yeah, well and good, compassion for my brother..blah, blah,blah..What about compassion for society? We are brought up to keep clean, not impede or make fools of ourselves in public, to respect peoples boundaries…

    I have known plenty transients that can keep fairly cleen, not harrass people, and respect the lives of others that have worked hard to live the life they desired.

  28. Douglas Ewen

    I work with the homeless and most are very nice people who do not cause harm. 80% of the homeless are mentally ill … 25% are vets.
    The homeless problem will only get worse … the city is not capable of solving this problem … we the people must help instead of insulting them!
    Removing the benches is an insult to me and the many people who enjoy using the benches.

  29. dave

    It’s interesting that none of the folks who are demonizing the, yes, admittedly often annoying, “homeless” dont seem interested in seeking out any solutions to why they are there in the first place. Here’s a little clue: they arent going away, and they are still humans and Americans with rights. Until you can get some laws passed that make them second class citizens, you will have to deal with ‘them’.

    Until there are proper services for these folks, they will ALWAYS be on the streets annoying you. What makes you think you can legislate them away? Instead of spending more money on cops, why not spend that money on the facilities that once existed to serve them? (and, NO, I am not referring to non-profit groups and church centers. It’s not their place to deal with unruly drunks and mental cases.)

    It’s always the same bunch of generally anonymous people who claim to be ‘hard working, tax paying, yadda yadda yadda’ who don’t want to have to deal with the homeless. As if the rest of us don’t work hard and pay taxes. Please. Hate to break it to you, but these people are everybody’s problem.
    We can bail out Wall Street for a Billion dollars, but we can’t afford to give people the proper medical treatment? We can spend more and more on a militarized police force, but we close Veterans Centers? Your fake “Patriotism” means nothing when war veterans cant get medical help.

    I am so tired of listening to people who only want to benefit from the freedoms of American culture, but have no desire to actually work at fixing the problems. You people are just as bad as the drunks and drug addicts you decry- your both leaches. Get out there and help someone, or stop calling yourself a Christian, for God’s sake. You God is looking down on you and laughing at your brazen hypocrisy.

    At least Jason Bugg has the honesty to admit he just wants to taze them. Most of you yahoos wouldn’t slow down in traffic to avoid running over your own grandmothers, and yet still call yourself ‘upstanding citizens’. Move to Disneyland if you want to live in a sanitized, protected, fascist world. They built a whole town in Florida for people just like you, called Celebration, Florida. No pesky homeless there.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Celebration,_Florida

  30. shadmarsh

    I will miss the benches, but until the city controls the homeless population, they useless…

    Maybe we should spray them with fire hoses, with winter coming on that should a long way toward controlling the population…or does anyone have any man-sized mouse traps?

  31. How does a “10 Year Plan to End Homelessness” propose to eliminate a lifestyle that is, for the most part, voluntarily chosen?

  32. Reality Check

    Plans to “eliminate” things like poverty, homelessness, cancer etc, start out on a false premise intentionally for sensational purposes. I guess it helps them raise money.

  33. nuvue

    Good response Dave, It pains me no end to see some Vets who where made nuts by their service for the country and then become “the forgotten” The govt has almost never admitted to post traumatic stress syndrome or Iraq war disease. They will spend millions studying it though. These people need our help, not be used up by America and tossed aside.
    I don’t like sitting around some of them either, but everybody needs a helping hand. I am afraid we are going to see a big uptick in homelessness soon. Use some tiny portion of the bailout to help the vets, and homeless I say.

  34. Dave,

    Well said. I think most people don’t ever think they could be homeless or mentally ill; and most people, if they believed they could fall victim to homeless, don’t believe they would ever stay homeless very long. Not everyone has a great network of family or friends to pick them up. Getting mental help when you have no money, no family, and no home isn’t exactly easy.

  35. Buck

    It’s not about the homeless. It’s about city benches. The benches were provided for the disabled, elderly, and just plain tired people of Asheville to seat down. The benches in front of the library are there because that is where people wait for rides after visiting the library or attending an event at the Civic Center, wait for the bus, or sit to read a newspapers from one of the many vending machines.
    It sounds like some of the business owners just want to force people into their establishments to buy an overpriced sandwich just to sit down or some of the wealthier citizens resent average people being in their city.
    It’s normal to have public benches around a library, especial a library as central to the community as the downtown branch.
    Homelessness is just part of the price you pay for living in a prosperous and beautiful location.
    Long after the greedy and the lazy move on we’ll still need benches around the library. This was just a silly stunt and needs to be rectified.

  36. tatuaje

    a lifestyle that is, for the most part, voluntarily chosen?

    Care to elaborate on how you came about this conclusion?

  37. Chad Nesbitt

    Gordon,

    You said –
    <>If everyone who’s felt annoyed by a homeless person would donate money to United Way, AHOPE, Salvation Army, ABCCM, or another homeless service provider, then you could do away with those icky feelings you have.<>

    Christians and Churches give to the homeless all the time but yet you demonize Christians on your web site. Your protest has nothing to do with the homeless and everything to do with promoting Hoolie and his band of “drinking liberally” friends.

    Your a Hypocrite Mr. Smith.

  38. For many people there is a personal choice in residing in a homeless life style. Some people have a desire to be free – to have the personal liberty that comes with not being tied down in the responsibility of paying monthly bills, holding long term career goals, or attempting to fit into the boxes of society’s norms. Some of Asheville’s best busking and street entertainment comes from a technically ‘homeless’ bohemian lifestyle that accompanies some of today’s subcultures.

    A lot of people however, do not relish in the freedom of personal choice in taking on the role of being homeless. Whether out of social anxiety or the inability to secure a sense of self will that is able to participate within the norms of society, many people just can’t function in the world which has been created before them. But does that make them evil or wrong, as if they should be treated like a scourge upon our city? Certainly not.

    Who can judge what leads people down their paths in life? Many of these homeless are ex-vets who never were quite able to get back into the swing of things. Some of them suffer from some sort of serious life set-back and just need to get back on their feet – when the time is right. Many of them carry the cross of mental illness and can not function in any normal job-function manner.
    (*http://www.mountainx.com/news/2007/040908buzz2/)

    The real burden comes when the individual also suffers from a debilitating crutch like chronic alcoholism or other drug abuse, as many due on the street, and that as well should come with its own sense of compassion. They tend to lose awareness of themselves, their plight in overcoming their struggle, or their abuse of the system which (when working) attempts to assist and self-empower them within the best means possible.

    Without question Asheville could do better in managing homeless – but it certainly isn’t by taking away the public’s park benches.
    Carl Mumpower is right – that is a sign of surrender.

    This demonstrates that we as a community are not willing to address the issues concerning homelessness. Our city is more anxious about whether panhandlers are annoying downtown visitors versus concerning ourselves with the situation that there are over 500 people who reside our streets and as of this winter there are only 258 shelter beds downtown. Remember that these are people we are talking about. We all can name a few bad apples downtown that are consistently belligerent and they system only carries so much patience – but we are punishing no one but ourselves in taking away these benches.

    It’s not about free-rides and socialist tendencies aimed at spreading the wealth so that slackers with drinking problems can lounge all day in front of Pack Library. This is about human beings who are a part of our society and how we as a city can be creative and resourceful in finding use and purpose for these people who consider Asheville as much their home as I do. We have to uphold our community’s standards of treating our fellow citizens with respect, compassion, yet a firmness in determining what actions are necessary to address the situation as a whole.

    Taking away our park benches just makes our city appear as if we can’t deal with the these human beings in any thoughtful manner as well as denying our the public a place to sit down when we want to read a book outside.

  39. JOHN-C

    I don’t think the removal of the benches by the city is an attempt to eliminate homelessness in Asheville… they’re trying to alleviate the problem in that specific area… As it is right now I don’t think the city is mistreating our homeless neighbors but they do need to get some help in finding a solution.

  40. For goodness sake, it’s just a couple of BENCHES. The city removed them; allocating amenities and resources in such matters is why we have a city government.

    Let’s quit trying to micromanage and attribute global problems to such a small and specific decision.

    A public protest is totally inappropriate and the height of Yuppie silliness.

  41. Dougas Ewen

    Ralph, the removal of the benches is what we are protesting … don’t you get that? The city is trying to hide the homeless people from view of the tourists!
    Try to think outside of the box and not just for yourself.
    We are going to protest and you will have to get over it … come join us instead of just complaining!

  42. ThePhan

    Instead of a protest of the removal of benches, why doesn’t this group do something more producting and actually try to fix the PROBLEM? I just don’t get it.

    And I’m tired of being harrassed by the homeless AND the non-homeless panhandlers downtown. I’d support a tremendous crackdown by the city on these leeches. I don’t have a problem with the homeless, but I have a substantial problem with panhandlers and would welcome an intensive campaign to rid the city of them.

  43. shadmarsh

    Is it really all that hard to learn that your and you’re are not the same thing? Come on Chad you’re making the baby Jesus cry with your horrible grammar!

  44. Jen wrote: “Taking away our park benches just makes our city appear as if we can’t deal with the these human beings in any thoughtful manner…”

    I think you are right.

    But it does not only appear that we can’t deal with the homeless in any thoughtful manner: We CANNOT deal with the homeless in any thoughtful manner.

    The city has spent a lot of time and money implementing it’s quixotic plan to end homelessness. (We have 7 years left and I just can’t wait ;)

    The government cannot solve social problems. It can only stop causing them. Zacchaeus House was doing its part but the city wanted to shut them down for want of segregated bathrooms.

    “…the property must satisfy a host of special building-safety requirements, such as multiple bathrooms, exit signs and compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act.” – Mountain Xpress

    http://www.mountainx.com/news/2008/031908zacchaeus/

    Instead of a chest-thumping protest of the city’s removal of a bench, this could have become a symbolic launching point to reassess our approach to the problems of vagrants, drunks, and miscreants — as well as the genuine homeless. But we have trouble making moral distinctions, don’t we?.

    Significant and lasting solutions must come from a charitable community. The public sector is incompetent in dispensing charity. In fact, forced charity is an oxymoron. The consequence of government interference in charity is the extinguishing of the charitable sense. Individuals turn their role of neighbor over to cloistered, self-serving bureaucrats. Some charity, huh?

    And how are those change boxes coming along? If you see a hungry woman on the street, will you walk over her to put a dollar in a box?

    I worked for a Task Force for the Homeless in Atlanta. Endlessly collecting statistics on the homeless does not feed or clothe. The purpose of collecting stats is for lobbying the government for funding for administration, salaries and facilities for the stat collectors.

  45. Shad, Baby Jesus was not proficient in English either, but his heart was good.

    Give Chad a break. Left leg, right leg, but don’t make fun of his speech patterns.

    On additional thought as to this weighty matter (at least as important as a couple of stupid benches), I believe this is a matter of honor and can only be resolved by you mudwrestling Chad on the site of the former benches. Winner gets to speak however he durn well pleases thereafter.

    I will place a $1 bet on Chad in three rounds. Let the training commence.

  46. Ken Hanke

    Shad, Baby Jesus was not proficient in English either, but his heart was good.

    Baby Jesus wasn’t posting on websites either.

  47. How do you know, Ken? … this isn’t a real name board as it should be. Anyone can use any name.

    And those outsiders who make fun of local speech patterns exhibit poor understanding and tolerance of mountain culture. Learn the language, don’t make fun of it.

    You want to referee the mudwrestling match?

  48. tatuaje

    I confess…

    I am really Baby Jebus…sorry Ken…

    The mud wrestling idea is so deliciously homoerotic…Ralph, you are one kinky mountain man…looking to start a new line of videos are we?

    I’ve got $1 on Shadmarsh to win and $100 on Nesbitt enjoying it more than he could ever admit to himself…

  49. Douglas, with all due respect, you are reading way too much into removing two benches.

    Perhaps we can bring them back, though, so folks will be able to sit in comfort and watch the mudwrestling. Yes, I will support that.

  50. Tim –
    You’ve nailed a lot of it.

    However, the public sector can be of assistance through encouraging private sectors with public awareness incentives.

    The dismantling of mental health services in WNC {along side a growing national trend} over the past several years has ultimately resulted in a significant increase of people living on the streets with mental health or addiction problems. Instead of figuring ways of getting effective and lasting treatments, we instead put these people in our most expensive care facility, the prison system, rapidly consuming tax-payer money that might be more productively used.

    The point is, the change boxes are certainly not effective and neither is removing public benches.

    As long as Asheville retains a tepid climate there will be transient homeless as well as panhandlers here. It comes with the territory. But the panhandling laws need to be enforced to our downtown community standards, and the city needs to adopt the compassion and creativity necessary to really attempt addressing and alleviating the situation which is currently out of control, and arguably has been for some years now.

  51. Ken Hanke

    And those outsiders who make fun of local speech patterns exhibit poor understanding and tolerance of mountain culture. Learn the language, don’t make fun of it.

    Oh, come on, Ralph, Chad’s use of English and his spelling have nothing to do with your so-called “mountain culture.”

  52. Of course they do. I may not always agree with Chad but he’s always AUTHENTIC and that’s more than you can say about a lot of the current Asheville folk. … and you did not answer the question being the referee.

  53. Zanna

    It isn’t just that they removed two park benches, it’s that they were a couple of the only two benches left in downtown. I am a pedestrian who lives downtown, I don’t drive a car and because of problems in my hips I also don’t ride a bicycle. I am not homeless, when I walk into town it is to spend my money in the businesses there. But I am finding it frustrating to go shopping downtown, because I have to keep moving constantly and can never rest unless I choose to eat at a restaurant. I’m not allowed to use the bathroom or sit, because that would encourage me to linger for a moment- must keep moving constantly! Given that I have arthritis that poses a severe limitation to how much time I can spend in downtown- and how much money I can spend in downtown. Is this what the city wants? It won’t result in one less homeless person being downtown, it will just result in nobody being made comfortable in downtown unless they want to plop their butts on the sidewalk like a teenager.

  54. to elaborate, Ken … you more than anyone should understand ‘voice.’ … if you think about it, I’m sure you do.

    ever watched “Grunt! The Wrestling Movie” (1985)… simply substitute Chad for Mad Dog Joe DeCurso and he will come out on top. … if you know the holds, you can skate on English usage.

    And you guys are worrying about BENCHES?

    no wonder the plot of a B wrestling movie can serve as metaphor for this whole dang county, eh?

  55. I think we should promote a spelling bee, mud wrestling match, sit-in, pie eating contest; and set up a nativity scene around the would-be benches. Sell tickets. Proceeds benefit Asheville Homeless Network.

  56. tatuaje

    All joking aside….

    Douglas, with all due respect, you are reading way too much into removing two benches.

    Like the magnolia tree, the benches are simply symbols…don’t get too caught up on the symbols and lose sight of the greater implications…

    As long as Asheville retains a tepid climate there will be transient homeless as well as panhandlers here. It comes with the territory. But the panhandling laws need to be enforced to our downtown community standards, and the city needs to adopt the compassion and creativity necessary to really attempt addressing and alleviating the situation which is currently out of control, and arguably has been for some years now.

    ….yep….

    As always, JBo’s posts pretty much nail it.

    There, but for the grace of (insert preferred noun here), go I…. John Bradford

    And actually, I have…

    For those christians who have forgotten their own texts…

    Luke 18.22:

    When Jesus heard this, he said to him, ‘There is still one thing lacking. Sell all that you own and distribute the money to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; then come, follow me.

  57. shadmarsh

    Ralph,

    You can leave me out of your mud wrastlin’ fantasies.

    If confusing the possessive “your” with the contraction “you’re” as well as a general disregard for the indefinite article are part of genuine “Mountain Culture” then can I expect you to do the same from now on?

  58. Sorry, Shad … but we got you booked now. You’re the offending champion.

    Lots of people all over the country write ‘your’ for the contraction of ‘you are’ … that’s not distinctive voice for here, no. But get out and talk to the real people, you’ll pick it up fast enough.

  59. dave

    Yes, shadmarsh, talk to ‘the real people’ in ‘real america’. You obviously only interact with ‘fake people’.

  60. i’m making a point … that this whole thread about the benches is totally inane.

    but I am serious about the mudwrestling.

  61. Jonathan Scott

    Chad and DonM,

    What does it matter where Doug Ewen lives? And, as a matter of fact, on at least two occasions that I know of, Doug has opened his Sawyer condo to homeless folks while he was out of town (for weeks at a time).

    Ralph,

    This isn’t about the benches. It’s about a pattern of discrimination against people who don’t have the political clout to influence City Hall. First, they didn’t want breakfast served to homeless folks at Pritchard Park, pushing it out to Aston Park (out of the view of tourists). Now they don’t want them sitting on our public benches.

    What’s next?: Shave and a haircut or you can’t walk the city streets? Maybe we should require a coat and tie to even go downtown…

  62. It IS about the benches. The benches were taken away. The homeless people have already found other places to hang out. They’ve lost nothing because they had nothing.

    Forget the benches. If you want to do something for the homeless, fine, but the benches have nothing whatsoever to do with that problem.

    Let’s use a little logic here.

    Now, back to the mudwrestling training in progress.

  63. DonM

    Jonathan Scott,
    You’re right. It has nothing to do with where Doug lives. He could live in Biltmore Forest–well, not really. So what. If he indeed houses the transients that is exactly what I suggested. Bravo.

    You up for a few yourself? Put an advert in the Charlotte, Atlanta, or whatever paper you choose and invite them over. They come anyway, so perhaps you could take direct action and help our city by giving Chief Hogan the necessary demographics of the hoard of lifestyle-bums who come to take advantage of our hospitality.

    My compassion stops where the lifestyle-bums begin.

    As for the rest of your breathless hyperbole, find a bench and “sit on it.”

  64. ashkat

    We need more benches, not less. Other cities I have been in (dc, san diego, santa fe) have enough benches so police can encourage both homed and homeless in appropriate behavior: share, show respect, let friends sit together and find yourself another bench, don’t sleep on the bench, don’t hog the bench all day, don’t take up more than one space, keep the benches clean………

  65. travelah

    Give the bums a one-way ticket to Florida and keep the benches.

  66. Ken Hanke

    So, let’s see, if I understand correctly, Ralph, misusing words you don’t understand, using the wrong word, and an inability to spell = “Mountain Culture.” Is that right?

  67. dave

    Raphel-For someone who doesnt even live in the city, you sure have a lot of opinions about things that go on right downtown.

  68. T.C.

    I must be confused, the original MountainX article states that the benches were removed because they were an epicenter for criminal activity, not for homeless people. Personally, I would rather see the city spend its energy on removing the kids on Lexington Ave. who beg for money while listening to their mp3 players and smoking $5 packs of cigarettes.

  69. no, Ken … it’s more like speaking truth, self-reliance, respect for your neighbors, and always striving to meet Buncombe County’s motto, the one carved in marble in the Courthouse, “Men to Match Our Mountains.”

    Do that and you can speak as you please and good-hearted people will understand your meaning and not make fun of the way you speak or write simply because you might be different from their perhaps wrongly perceived standards because down deep NONE of us are all that disparate, we are all people.

    But a good mountain person does not worry over a couple of benches and hilariously attribute global causes to it.

    If you can’t find any other way to make fun of Chad than his speech, hang your head in shame and slink away into the great darkness where those who hate others live.

    You are better than that, Ken… a lot better.

  70. shadmarsh

    Ralph,
    There are probably myriad ways to make fun of Chad, but I wasn’t making fun; I was asking for some courtesy…How you came to anoint yourself arbiter of all that is good right and true I’ll never understand.

  71. JOHN-C

    The benches have a lot to do with the problem…

    They attract and provide a gathering spot for drunks and vagrants

    Their has been an increase in crime and disturbance where these disturbed people gather

    Lets at the very least try to curb the crime in front of the library(such a beautiful spot) while hopefully more long term measures can put in place.

    Maybe the benches could come back in a few years when and if Asheville loses it’s reputation and stature as the homeless capital of the south

    We must change the Asheville homeless culture by not tolerating it… Let’s round up the trouble makers and get these people treatment somewhere where they won’t cause so much trouble to us all

  72. khyber Pass

    Serious issue discussions deteriorate amazingly fast into foolishness. I guess every court needs its jesters.
    When the homeless use the benches and bother the rest of us, the jesters say get rid of the benches.
    Symbols are important, especially to the fascist section. First the benches go. That won’t remove the problem of dealing with the homeless, so next go then the homeless, then all the mentally ill, then the people from “away,” then the brown-eyed, then they come for your law-abiding, taxpaying, neighbor. Then for you.

    Those who understand the problem but have not the ways to overcome this are naturally frustrated. I have wondered for the last few years why the taxpaying lawabiders are not on the streets of every city pounding their pots and pans in protest of the turning over of the government to private money=making corporations, such as those who are paid to deal with the mentally ill.
    I stood on a streetcorner protesting the latest war that has helped drain the national treasury, leaving nothing to deal with the problems of our country–including caring for the least of these. The right wing will come back and say the people who want change couldn’t accomplish what needs doing.
    Taxes will have to be raised to deal with national issues,(and all vets certainly need help) but then the people who raise the taxes will be vilified and America will take one more giant step toward the status of a banana republic.
    It will take concerted group action to make a difference. A few people can ‘t do it. A lot of people in a lot of places who are willing to stay out in the cold and risk tazing in the name of justice and equality will make a difference.
    But most people are too comfortable in their warm houses typing away on their computers, taking part in arguments that degenerate to foolish prattle
    …..unless they are the great ones who wield the keyboard to write the words that stir the hearts of people too used to letting the government “solve” the problems of life…..
    So, dear ones who get it, especially young energetic people: blog, write, stir up tempers, plan, organize, create change…..just remember that the first time you serve refreshments at a gathering, you are becoming a social group, and lose the activist edge that makes a difference…….

    Since I arrived in asheville 30 years ago, the place has turned into city with a wonderful mix of all kinds of people. It’s sad that with all that energy and good karma the people who now populate avl are unable to do anything to give the homeless shelter, food, and safety….. and the rest of the people the kind of pride that comes from helping the least of our people.

    I despair, but realize change takes time and the inclination….and the energy we Viet Nam war protesters don’t have much of anymore……

  73. Jonathan Scott

    Ralph,

    Just come down to the protest and we will explain it to you in person, real slow-like in our best mountain-man dialect. If you still don’t get it, we will respect your right to remain ignorant. Heck, you might even engage Mumpower in a wrestling match, which WLOS will be happy to videotape and broadcast. You’ll be famous!

    And don’t act like you’re too busy to attend — you have added more than 1,000 posts to this web site alone. You need a hobby, Mountain Man!

    peace, love and public benches,

    Jonathan

  74. Douglas Ewen

    As a fellow Vietnam War protestor I feel your pain. It seems many amerikans think protestors should leave just like during the Vietnam war … very sad because we have learned a darn thing since that horrible war … now we have two!
    Sorry, I am off subject … gotta get back to making posters … I tried to draw one with Ralph’s face but I could not stop laughing!

  75. Ken Hanke

    no, Ken … it’s more like speaking truth, self-reliance, respect for your neighbors, and always striving to meet Buncombe County’s motto, the one carved in marble in the Courthouse, “Men to Match Our Mountains.”

    Fine, but don’t call bad English “our Mountain Culture.” I wasn’t making fun of Chad, I was calling you on that.

  76. What I was pointing out, Ken, is the tendency from many of our Northern immigrants to denigrate folks around here because we TALK differently.

    We don’t… We the ONLY people in the U.S. that do not have an accent.

    It all stems from a under-appreciation and poor understanding of our mountain culture. And it needs calling whenever anyone does it.

    And, yes, it works the other way around as well but there are still more of us’n then your’n.

  77. shadmarsh

    Ralph,

    project much?

    spelling and speaking are entirely two different things…why you keep twisting this into something it is not says more about your own self-consciousness than anything else.
    Your endless ramblings about how us northern imperial interlopers come down here and destroy all that is holy and mountain is one of your more tiresome acts, even if you play it as some sort of folksy xenophobia.

    I’ll give Nesbitt credit in one thing, at least he is honest in his stance, instead of trying to hide behind mealy-mouthed homespun quasi-centrist bull pucky.

  78. Ken Hanke

    It all stems from a under-appreciation and poor understanding of our mountain culture.

    Uh, no, Ralph, it doesn’t. There is no connection between a regional speech that uses (or used) “us’n” and “your’n” and using “your” for “you’re.”

  79. obviously, I disagree with you about “northern imperial interlopers” … nothing imperial about ’em.

    But it was MY point that Chad was honest in his stance and that some were attacking him as a person rather than his argument.

    And while you may tire of my voice (just as I tire of those who think Obama’s the annointed One), all of us still have the right to espouse the causes we consider worthwhile.

    None of mine, by the way, include the aforementioned displaced benches … which is the entire point of this thread for those behind on their scorecards at home.

  80. Buck

    It’s sad that the elderly and the disabled are not as important to the city as a few drunks. The drunks will pass out anywhere available while they beg, and life will go on for them just the same. But grandma and grandpa aren’t flexible enough to plop down on the sidewalk and even if they were they probably won’t be able to get up.
    Why should the citizens of Asheville have to do without the amenities they’ve paid for just because the city government doesn’t have the guts to deal with a few troublemakers. The laws are already on the books?
    My point is simple, sweep the streets of the drunks and panhandlers a few times every month until they get the idea but don’t punish the old people by playing silly little games with the benches.
    Panhandle in Asheville? Go to jail for 30 days. Remember how quiet it got right after the law was passed and the police were still enforcing it? Get drunk on the streets of downtown Asheville? Get an instant vacation at the jailhouse. Get out get drunk again, go right back to jail.
    There have been at least two murders in downtown because the city didn’t have the guts to enforce the laws.
    A homeless person as every right to sit down on a public bench as long as they aren’t breaking the law. The city has the responsibility for keeping the streets safe for everyone.
    The benches were there to sit on, the police are there to keep the peace and enforce the laws. The benches were doing a great job. It’s the police that aren’t doing theirs.

  81. Ken Hanke

    obviously, I disagree with you about “northern imperial interlopers” … nothing imperial about ‘em.

    Shouldn’t that be “ain’t nuthin’ impuriul ’bout ’em?”

  82. I wholeheartedly agree Buck.

    While visiting the sit-in briefly this afternoon, I got to thinking about places like Charleston, SC & Savannah, GA. Both cities similar to our own as far as structuring a lot of economic stability on the basis of small city tourism, history, food, culture, and art. Both of those cities have much higher levels of gentrification and crime. They have bubbles of upper-class tourism districts and then large urban slums for the poor, homeless, drugged & deranged. I do not believe in segregating classes, or ignoring community issues. If homeless people are -not- breaking the law they do have as much as right as any other person to sit on a bench. If they are drunk, belligerent, or breaking the law then the APD needs to comply with enforcing community standards.

    If there is a serious issue in Asheville concerning homelessness then rises as a topic that needs to be discussed and addressed. Removing these benches will only force the problem into a new area of the city. Removing all of our downtown benches only serves to make our city look ugly and unwelcoming, as well as depriving our citizens and visitors from a place to rest along the way.

    Apparently these aren’t the first benches to be removed, and questionably will not be the last.

    Photo from this afternoon:
    http://picasaweb.google.com/lh/photo/qbCo_V9qToUJ-z74f5zrSg

  83. dave

    Ralph-What part of “Mountain Culture” embraces tourist dollars and a plastic facade over usability of the city for the folks who actually live and work there?

    More often than not, it is those “Northern Imperialists” you rail about who the city is attempting to cater to. More often than not, “locals” are the ones shafted as the city caters to these northern tourist dollars.

    Where’s you outrage at this? You hocum is pocus.

  84. Hey Dave… I never rail about “Northern Imperialists.”

    Sometimes I do mention Yankee Yuppie Carpetbaggers and Flatheaded Flatlanders, and once I even mentioned “Northern Immigrants” in a pejorative sense … but I have never used “Northern Imperialists” and I do not think it fits.

    But think you for suggesting it.

    And, yes, if you read the history of this area, from the early 19th century on we have sought after and greatly enjoyed tourist money. We first attracted rich planters from the South Carolina low county, then rich Northern industrialists and their rich kids such as George Vanderbilt. We’ve taken your money for centuries and wished you well on your journey home back down these tall green mountains.

    The problems started occurring when you folk starting coming, leaving your money, then just staying.

    Perhaps you need a refresher in the basic rules of the game. Ignoring them is causing overcrowding and misuse of our benches.

    Thank you for your kind consideration.

  85. typo police say that should be “thank” instead of “think you.”

    Again, I humbly beseech the Gods of the Forum to bless us with the ability to EDIT our posts. Not even the graduates of Northern schools among us can also post perfectly without the occasional typo jumping in.

    please free our posts from the current rigidity of noncorrective slavery. … and how about a bench out in front of the MountainX offices?

  86. Ashevegasjoe

    Tim,
    I sincerely question your statement that homelessness is mostly by choice. You cite your work with the homeless, and how you polled them in Atlanta. But, wouldn’t it be normal for anyone to tell someone they chose their lifestyle? That is to say, people, even homeless, still have pride. I don’t know the numbers, but it seems like a disprapotionate number of homeless suffer from mental illnesses (i.e. schizophrenia, addiction). So can your polls really be accurate? Can a person suffering from a mental disability really make a well-informed choice? Again, this whole thread seems like a great arguement for increasing available funds for the mental health sector.

  87. Leigh

    I’ve been following this thread with great interest ( and some horror) and wanted to share a couple of thoughts.

    I particularly appreciated what Ashevegasjoe contributed to the larger discussion of homelessness and the decline in “mental health” funding. And it’s not just about shrinking dollars. In recent years there has evolved the notion among mental health providers that there is a distinction between treatable mental illness and addiction. Here’s one cold reality: funded agencies MUST demonstrate successful ‘outcomes’ in order to justify their existence. Just ask any service provider who receives federal dollars how much time is required in tracking and reporting ‘success’.

    So I wonder if the distinction between ‘mental illness’ and ‘addiction’ evolved because the success rate for treatable mental illness is ‘measurably’ higher than for those suffering (and I do mean SUFFERING!) from addiction disorder. Anyone familiar with the DSM IV knows that addiction is classified as a mental illness and the vast majority of those addicted to substances have an underlying condition (depression, bi-polar disorder, PTSD, the list goes on and on). Put simply, not everyone afflicted with severe depression is an alcoholic but almost every alcoholic experienced some form of life altering trauma and depression prior to life-threatening addiction.

    And before some folks get cranked up on their keyboards, don’t waste your time trying to convince me that addiction is a lifestyle choice. It’s not. Period. Do some addicts experience recovery? Sure. But unless you’ve stumbled around in those shoes, you simply won’t get what that’s about. (No offense intended.)

    So back to the benches. I think it’s wrong minded to paint this situation with too broad a brush. My observation is that the majority of aggressive panhandlers may or may not be homeless. Not everyone who is homeless is a predator (or a bum, for God’s sake).

    Sadly, there will probably always be homelessness, poverty, addiction, and other mental health conditions that are “unsightly”. But apparently removing a couple of benches is something some people think is worth celebrating.

    Hey, was Jesus homeless? By golly, I do believe he was…

  88. JOHN-C

    So back to the benches. I think it’s wrong minded to paint this situation with too broad a brush. My observation is that the majority of aggressive panhandlers may or may not be homeless. Not everyone who is homeless is a predator (or a bum, for God’s sake).

    Sadly, there will probably always be homelessness, poverty, addiction, and other mental health conditions that are “unsightly”. But apparently removing a couple of benches is something some people think is worth celebrating.

    I don’t think the benches debate is about panhandlers it’s about the drunks and other disturbed people creating crime and disturbance in front of the library

    It would surprise me if the city decided to remove more benches… I think this is the only area of town where they would consider pulling up a bench

    The library area is an important place for the community and business and it’s just awful what goes on out there

    Sorry to deflate an otherwise intelligent and compassionate entry Leigh

  89. Jay Bailey

    Our friends in Greenville, S.C. know how to take care of the homeless. Yessirree, they give them a one-way bus ticket to Asheville and just like the saps that we are we let them get off the bus. Are we idiots or what?

  90. dave

    Downtown asheville used to be a place where one could enjoy a leisurely afternoon stroll, sit on a bench and talk with friends, get some coffee at Malaprops-whatever. In my opinion, removing the benches is more about making sure people go downtown for one reason only-Spend money and leave. That doesnt really fit with how asheville wants to bill itself, and if they succeed, it will bite itself in the rear. Keep downtown ahseville a slow, friendly place.

    And yeah, we do ship our homeless other places as well. It’s not a long-term solution. They just find themselves shipped back here eventually. I have run into Johnny in Chapell Hill more than once. And I saw “dre” down in Greenville once. Guess what, they still return.

  91. Leigh

    Yogaji,

    No offense taken. It’s a big topic and an important one. Things that are easily solved usually (but not always) are. I agree that “criminal activity” requires law enforcement. If being annoying and predatory were a crime…well, let’s keep my ex out of this. It’s the hostility in this thread that prompted me to type my very first ever blog entry. Other than buying the ‘bums’ bus tickets out-of-town, any other creative thinking out there?

  92. Clocky

    If the benches had been flanked by high-value commercial property on all sides, I would buy the argument that the city removed the benches to get homeless away from the tourists.

    But these benches were right in front of the public library.

    On and around those benches, which are in full view of all (adults and children) who exited the library onto Haywood Street, I have witnessed almost every sort of foul behavior known to man.

    The way I see it, there are two distinct problems. One is the problem of homelessness in the USA. This is a complicated nationwide problem that thousands of people are working on, and it’s a long-term problem that will outlast any attempt at a quick fix.

    Problem number two was the presence of people (homeless or not) on those benches who acted as they did. The city solved problem number two. This solution doesn’t hurt anybody, since there are a dozen benches within a short walk of that very spot.

    As for problem number one, homelessness, we can all try to do more to solve that problem.

    I, for one, am glad that the city chose to solve problem number one.

  93. JOHN-C

    Great point Clocky…

    This is not about taking up all of Asheville’s public benches

    It’s about the specific problem in front of the library

  94. Buck

    You do realize the only public restrooms downtown are in the library and the Grove Arcade? Of course, you’ll probably smell that fact soon, every time you walk past an alley or a dumpster.
    By the way, the problem in front of the library and elsewhere downtown can be cured by the police doing what they get paid for, enforcing the laws. Time and time again I’ve seen the police break up fights downtown but not arrest anyone only to see the same people start again. What is the problem with putting violent people in jail? What is the problem with arresting people who are a threat to themselves and others?
    The problem wasn’t solved the problem is still walking around downtown looking for a fight and the city is still afraid to face it head on.

  95. nuvue

    Hey, I got an idea, if homeless are shipped in on busses why don’t we stop bus service to A-ville? And if they are on the sidewalks….well, get rid of the sidewalks. Who needs to walk anyhow? Only the homeless can’t afford cars

    Moving the benches for that reason is just plain stupid, Hey Ralph, is Haim headed in the mtn vernacular?

  96. dave

    “Only the homeless can’t afford cars”

    Great point!

    I think the APD should deputize DonM so he call rustle up all the lazy lifestyle bums and send em to Mexico!

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