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Asheville is the closest North Carolina comes to San Francisco - the mountains, the culture, but that is where the similarities end. There is a very belligerent and ultra sanctimonious right wing in Asheville. Years ago, there was a rally to pray to boot out "paganism." Last year my wife and I happened visited town while a horrific anti-gay protest was in progress sponsored by local area "churches." This past week, Asheville saw one of it's own arrested for holding a protest sign.
On Wednesday August 15, I was standing alone with my sign for about 10 minutes, when I was approached by Police Officer Russell Crisp. He asked me how long I was planning to stay there and I told him just a few more minutes because I had to go to work at 8:00. He asked for my ID and I obliged. I asked him if I was doing something wrong, and he said that his Sergeant was on the way and he was going to wait for him. SO, I went back to my sign holding over the interstate.
A few minutes later Sergeant Randy Riddle showed up with a paper in his hand. He spoke briefly to Crisp, then walked over to me and told me to put down my sign, put my hands behind my back, and that I was under arrest! I was shocked and almost thought he was joking until he told me again to put down the sign and put my hands behind me and I was under arrest. So I peacefully agreed and he cuffed me. I asked him why I was being arrested, he told me I was in violation County Ordinance 16-2, (the print out in his hand that he didn't bother to read to me or show me.) He told me I was obstructing the sidewalk. I told him I was not and that officer Crisp had witnessed a guy walk by me moments before.
Riddle yelled at me, "You were obstructing the sidewalk!" and "I'm sick of this shit!" then he said, "Here's your 15 minutes of fame buddy!" I looked back to see his name plate and he said in a mean condescending tone, "Yea, that's 'Sergeant Riddle' get it right!" He then put me in Officer Crisp's police car. Riddle took my sign with him and I was taken downtown and booked by Crisp. I was never read my Miranda rights.
Someone needs to call Mayor Bellamy and ask her when Civil Rights will be reestablished in Asheville? Or does she intend to allow the gestapo to operate freely in his city?
The below is PUBLIC information:
Mayor Terry M. Bellamy
Office of the Mayor
Mayor Terry M. Bellamy
P.O. Box 7148, Asheville, NC, 28802
Location: Asheville City Hall, Second Floor, 70 Court Plaza
Phone: (828) 259-5600
Fax: (828) 259-5649
firstname.lastname@example.org police chief
email@example.com assistant city manager
firstname.lastname@example.org city manager
And fell free to send them a copy of this cartoon!