Instead of "APD resolves downtown standoff," your cover teaser should have read "Visitor to Asheville maintains grip on his sanity, and chooses not to be gunned down in the street."
David Forbes' article in last week's Mountain Xpress [“Anatomy of a Standoff,” Sept. 7] failed to tell any part of the story from Kenneth Allison's perspective.
His problems in Hilton Head resulted from the authorities' initial apathy for Allison's pleas for attention to his situation. Later, those same authorities got revenge for being repeatedly bothered with a citizen's requests for help. They went to his house, decided that the second amendment didn't apply on Allison's own property, which they stormed and found his “naughty weed.” He was not charged with any violent crime. The media and the Internet were then used to spread “news” of his possible violent tendencies.
Do we want our police using Internet gossip to determine a person's proclivity for violence? This is governmental cyber-bullying that resulted in very non-virtual weapons being aimed at Allison's head. APD basically locked step with the Beaufort, S.C. Sheriff Department in the poor handling of Allison's situation.
Released from jail, Allison decided, "I'm moving to Asheville where they're more tolerant!" It's no surprise that he appeared befuddled when he (unarmed and nonviolent) was suddenly surrounded by a SWAT team.
I wouldn't have moved a muscle either.
If Allison had jumped out of his car with a cell phone or his wallet in his hand and been torn apart in a hail of gunfire, your paper (and our city) would have cried all over his grave. The bloodless outcome of this situation should not give credit or blessing to overbearing, paramilitary police tactics. Did any one of our cops or our citizens simply ask the man (who, like all of us has his own emotional burdens) if he needed some help? And, no I don't mean through a bullhorn.
My intent is not to criticize police officers, but the tactics used in this type of situation. It's a predetermined and programmatic escalation of an otherwise nonviolent crime (think Ruby Ridge and Waco). When we can no longer tell the difference between an occupying military force and our domestic constabulary, we will see only further erosion of our freedoms — toward a constant fear-of-authority based society.
Do we want that? Do we really think there are that many boogeymen out there? Really?
If I could offer one suggestion to the drafters of the SWAT handbook it would be that every other step should read "Objectively reevaluate entire situation – might we be the bigger problem here? Reduction in presence is a viable option."
— Sydney Oscar Nemms