Letter: An all-out war on the homeless

Graphic by Lori Deaton

Felonies for feeding the homeless?!

It’s an outrage that 15 mutual aid workers who volunteer their time and resources to help feed houseless people were recently charged with “felony littering” for being part of a food distribution event with an art build in Aston Park last December. Furthermore, most of the 15 have been banned from all Asheville parks.

Aston Park hosted a city-sanctioned sanctuary camp for part of 2021, until April. Asheville’s own Human Relations Commission proposed ending sweeps, back in May 2021; the Human Relations Commission of Asheville and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention support sanctuary camping with sanitation services, especially during the COVID pandemic. And yet, there have been 26 homeless camp evictions! Now, about 30 people have been evicted from the former Ramada Inn, with no choice but to be back on the street.

There is even a draft ordinance proposing a limit of two food distributions per park per year! What is going on? It’s an all-out war on the homeless, supported by comfortable people who profit from tourism and gentrification. Where is our compassion for those less fortunate than we are? Making it illegal to offer mutual aid is not placing value on human life.

Homelessness is created by policies that prioritize tourism and gentrification over affordable housing. In the name of our common humanity, Council must stop the sweeps and drop the felony charges.

— Cathy Holt


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8 thoughts on “Letter: An all-out war on the homeless

  1. MV

    Much of tourism and development should be categorized as felonious activity for the ways they continue to rape and pillage our community in plain sight with the support of so many elected officials.

  2. Lou

    How did a supposed blue enclave in a sea of red get such right wing heartless greedy money hungry officials? Oh right, DARK MONEY.

  3. indy499

    So says the woman who doesn’t live here. Maybe the county can set up some camps in Swannanoa.

    • Big Al

      Ask a lot of NIMBY Swannanoans and they will tell you that there are already homeless camps there. The construction of the East Haven Apertments was declared a haven for dangerous drug addicts by the locals before it was even built. Apparently “affordable housing” now means “cheap enough for undesirables”.

  4. SpareChange

    I get that the letter writer supports, and therefore has adopted all of the hyperbolic rhetoric of those who were involved in this “action” in Aston Park. However, this is one of the most hyperbolic and politically & intellectually dishonest accounts I’ve seen.

    I watched the “reoccupation” (their term) after the park was originally cleared, and there were a number of old tires brought in, used to create a barrier/road block of sorts, numerous pieces of old furniture, various plumbing fixtures, etc. This is what they called their “art event.”

    As one source reported at the time: “On Dec. 19 and 22, activists dumped between 1,000 and 2,200 pounds of litter and refuse in Aston Park during a “family art event.” The illegal dumping resulted in a cleanup effort of more than 100 man-hours using two dump trucks, half a dozen pickup trucks and heavy machinery, which cost the city of Asheville an estimated $2,680.” https://my40.tv/news/local/3-people-arrested-in-december-illegal-dumping-protests-at-aston-park-asheville (photos in the article).

    IMO, the so-called reoccupation/protest was something of a low point for those involved. Rather than effectively advocating for the homeless, they used these people as stage props for their own faux political theater, and actively sought a confrontation with city authorities. THAT was their intent and the whole point of the action.

    Such actions, like the spray painting of graffiti on the City Hall building by one of the participants immediately following the actions in Aston Park, were politically tone deaf, clumsy, juvenile and totally counterproductive in terms of winning any kind of public support for the homeless.

    • indy499

      The homeless budget should be charged for each of the cleanup activities. More mess. Fewer dollars for the supposed “clients” of these faux concerned parties.

  5. Gordon 1820

    This letter writer was obviously not present at the this ‘art event’. They are reading the social media progaganda of the folks involved. Anyone who was there knows this event was staged to bait APD and the city. The charges are valid and with a DA as lenient as the one we have, they are obviously well founded. These folks should have to serve a lot of community time to make up for their mis-deeds. They could start with going to Aston every Saturday morning and cleaning up after the ‘food’ distribution. Bring a couple of large plastic bags as between all the abandoned cloths, books from the free library, half eaten food you will fill them up pretty quickly with the mess they leave. City Tennis Staff have to do this every week. The flies, ants and now the rats have invaded the tennis center building. Yes, they need permits. Someone needs to clean up after themselves.

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