The murder of George Floyd, a Black man, by white Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin on May 25, 2020, spurred nationwide Black Lives Matter protests. In Asheville, Floyd’s murder had the immediate effect of religious institutions looking inward and engaging with their congregations around racial justice. More than a year on from those events, many […]
It’s no secret that officers are quitting the Asheville Police Department in droves, but what’s less certain is why officers are leaving. Xpress reached out to more than 50 former APD officers about their resignations. Only two agreed to share their thoughts, both under the condition of anonymity out of fear of professional consequences at their new jobs.
Work started May 17, and demolition of the 123-year-old monument to Zebulon Baird Vance in downtown Asheville is expected to take two weeks to complete, says city spokesperson Polly McDaniel. Costs to take down the structure block by block will reach roughly $114,000, while an additional $25,500 has been allocated for site restoration following the monument’s removal.
“It goes without saying that the protests were unprecedented in the city and for law enforcement officers nationwide,” said Asheville Police Chief David Zack. “Never before had APD encountered a protest where the emotional intensity was directed solely at the police.”
“Many cities are now reallocating funds from bloated police departments to underfunded social services that help to alleviate homelessness, mental illness and substance abuse.”
“What issues did Xpress readers feel passionate enough about to write letters to the editor or commentaries during a year that promises to go down in history?”
From the fate of the Vance Monument to a proposed affordable housing complex on land acquired through urban renewal, city officials move forward with longstanding projects.
Asheville made national headlines the night of June 2, when Asheville Police Department officers destroyed medical supplies and forcibly handled volunteer medics during international protests for racial justice. Xpress spoke with several people present at the medic station; they say the reasons for their outrage go far beyond the damage to supplies.
Many religious leaders in Western North Carolina are using the pulpit to call for racial justice. For some, the message predates the killing of George Floyd; for others, the issue is a new and delicate topic.
Asheville City Council unanimously adopted a resolution supporting reparations for Asheville’s Black community at its July 14 meeting. Members also moved to table a $83,000 contract with risk-management firm Hillard Heintze to investigate Asheville Police Department’s response to recent protests after listening to community concerns.
“Before Asheville rushes to embrace the BLM mantra, I would urge caution and restraint from going down that path.”
As calls continue for Asheville City Council to listen to the demands of protestors, Council members are poised to take the next step. At their meeting on Tuesday, July 14, members will vote on reparations for the Black community, a Black Lives Matter mural and a contract with a firm to investigate Asheville Police Department’s actions during recent demonstrations.
“We’ve taken to the streets to tell you what we need,” said North Asheville resident Katie Hudson. “It smacks of irony and disrespect to come forward with a proposal that you’re going to listen to people when we are actively telling you what we want right now.”
“What’s next? Whites need to listen and learn about the roots of systemic racism and poverty.”
Over a dozen speakers ventured out on June 16 to share their thoughts during the COVID-19 era’s first county public hearing. The commissioners subsequently gave unanimous approval to a spending plan little modified from that recommended by County Manager Avril Pinder.
Many of the commenters during Asheville City Council’s June 9 meeting called for the resignation of Asheville Police Chief David Zack and Mayor Esther Manheimer. Many more called for the immediate defunding of the APD. The comments came at the end of a five-hour meeting held virtually and fraught with technical difficulties.
J Hackett spoke with Xpress on June 2 about his experiences as a black community leader during the coronavirus pandemic and, now, the protests and grief experienced locally in response to George Floyd’s death on May 25 at the hands of a white police officer in Minneapolis.
Tensions were high as downtown Asheville prepared for another night of anticipated protests, despite a new citywide curfew that will go into effect at 8 p.m.
After a peaceful demonstration of thousands in downtown Asheville turned violent around 10:30 p.m. on Monday evening, some attendees smashed windows and spray-painted graffiti on downtown buildings and the Vance Monument.
Noting that 34% of North Carolina’s 898 COVID-19 deaths through June 1 have been among African Americans, who make up roughly 22% of North Carolina’s population, NCDHHS Secretary Dr. Mandy Cohen emphasized that structural racism has created health disparities in black communities.
Asheville Police used tear gas and rubber bullets as demonstrators protested police brutality and racial injustice the evening of May 31.