For many environmental organizations across Western North Carolina, COVID-19 fell like a lightning-struck tree across the path to progress. But like an intrepid hiker, WNC’s activists and organizers have bushwhacked new trails for action in the world of the pandemic.
Xpress contributor Mark Barrett unpacks the surprisingly static results to emerge from a politically tumultuous year in Western North Carolina.
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.
From breweries to clothing lines, businesses are clamoring to address internal biases and racism in the workplace. As inquiries pour in, local equity consultants Marisol Jiménez and Tamiko Ambrose Murray are busier than ever.
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.
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.
“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.”
“It’s time to stand against those who take the law into their own hands through acts of racial hatred, intimidation and domestic terrorism.”
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.
“I dreamed of The Race Relations Station, a place where all kinds of people gather in small groups, simply getting to know folks different from themselves and discovering their common humanity.”
“As a multicultural community in which progressive values of inclusion and equality should prevail, Asheville deserves public servants, professionals and citizens who treat all people equally.”