No. 251, Nov. 6-12, 2003



To read a letter, click on the headline.

‘Officers of the peace?’

Death row a mockery of

APD is out of control



‘Officers of the peace?’

Editors, Asheville Global Report,

We live in a strange time, a time when the world around us is dissolving into a plot not unlike that of a Phillip K. Dick novel. Our Attorney General has a burgeoning side career as a gospel singer. An Austrian action hero with a notable record of sexual abuse allegations is governor of California, and, despite all the consoling jokes, has a serious eye on a bigger prize (did you know that even now, Orin Hatch is working on initiating a clause that will allow “naturalized” immigrants to run for president?) “Freedom” is signified by falling squarely in line with your nationalistic, flag-bearing, SUV- driving, Hillfiger-wearing, perfect lawn and white picket fence having neighbor, while anyone with and inkling of independent thought risked being labeled a “terrorist supporter.” And the police, those “officers of the peace”, are becoming mongers of violence and fear, a force riddled with cold and brutish thugs prowling the streets to defend the financial interest of the privileged elite.

Yes, ladies and gentlemen, the Asheville Police Department has done it again. On October 31st, with the grace, agility, and intelligence of a pack of wild hyenas, the APD turned an act of PEACEFULLY disobedient revelry and delight into an event of catastrophic disarray and panic. Very bad choices were made, and, I suspect, that those choices were not made by accident. While I understand how, in the face of a late night spontaneous parade the officers felt that they had to do something to assert their power, I am forced to wonder what exactly it was that they hoped to achieve by their following course of action: the officers pulled into the front lines of the parade and violently grabbed a person, SEEMINGLY, at random. However, I find it worthwhile to note that this person was a slender female, and, if we look at the history of botch jobs the APD has performed during acts of civil disobedience, we will notice a pattern of the like. THIS IS AN IMPORTANT POINT TO REMEMBER. Naturally the specter of the large men violently handling the woman generated (and I choose that word with purpose) a strong reaction from the crowd, many of which were her friends. This opened up an opportunity for the officers to channel their aggressiveness into a rain of mace and taser(!!) fire. By that point, the people on the receiving end of their violent actions really were being chosen at random. (I overheard one person calmly asking an officer why he had been tazed for sitting on the sidewalk...the officer did not respond.) Being a completely sober participant and observer of that night’s events, I can attest that there were at least a dozen other courses of action the APD could have taken, had they wished to peacefully disperse the crowd in a calm and rational manner. I do not believe that this was ever their intention. In fact, it seems to me that the APD has taken very deliberate steps on multiple occasions to raise the tension to a point of panic, thus discrediting their opponents, and giving themselves an open license to live out a fantasy of violent domination and indulgent righteousness. This behavior can no longer be tolerated, and we have a right, as the citizens who pay their checks, to demand better from these supposed “peacekeeping” officers.

Elyse Manning
Asheville, NC

Death row a mockery of accountability

Editors, AGR:

I regret that my utter slave wages do not permit me to contribute even a pittance to defray costs of you generously sending me the newspaper.

I have some comments regarding Duncan Campbell’s piece on ps of AGR# 248, regarding “US clears drug cure for death row inmates.” I am a prisoner in the murderous state of Floriduh; although not on death row I have a death, rather so-called life sentence, meaning I was sentenced to the rest of my life in prison. I’m opposed to the death penalty. One reason is that it represents a mockery of accountability. People are killed for killing, but why aren’t governments held to the same standard? Shouldn’t Uncle Sam kill Florida for killing people? Shouldn’t George kill Jeb? Should Cain have slain Abel, or when he did, should he have been cursed? (Cain, by the way, did not suffer the death penalty for the first murder.)

If prisoners have a right to refuse psychotropic medication, how can governments justify waiving that right in order to commit more murder? Of course, no incompetent prisoner can waive that right to refuse. Seems prisoners only [have] one absolute right, to die. Death and taxes, right? Hogwash and soul butter! The prisoner to be murdered doesn’t pay the bill, and the death penalty costs more.

The Eighth Circuit US Court of Appeals for years has maintained its own brand of criminal insanity. Curing crazy convicts in order to slay them is but the latest atrocious move. Who’s next? Case closed!

Thank you for sending AGR,

Gerald Niles
Miami, Florida

APD is out of control

Editors, Asheville Global Report,

It was about 1am on Halloween, and the most frightening thing lurking the streets of our city was the Asheville Police Department. As occurred last year, a couple hundred masquerading celebrants, to the obvious delight of passersby and the few automobile drivers who happened to be on the road at so late an hour, took their holiday cheer to the streets of our city for a spontaneous and festive parade of ecstatic song and dance.

And as occurred last year, this joyful act of pure liberty offended the sensibilities of a local political culture of authoritarian banality. With even greater callousness than we have seen at previous encounters between lovers of freedom and the mechanized goons of APD, the first officers arrived on the scene (Lexington Avenue between College and Walnut) and immediately began pepper-spraying, firing tazers at, and tackling the peaceful revelers. This was, no doubt, a provocation because moments later about twenty police cars had filled the avenue with the clumsy brutes ready to subdue with overwhelming force any attempts by citizens to defend themselves from this unwarranted assault.

The day after Halloween saw an escalation of APD presence and harassment on Lexington Avenue. People were detained on the street, intimidated, and questioned regarding their “connection” with all of the excitement; posters were ripped down from lampposts and “street kids” were shooed and/or arrested. In a pathetic attempt to coerce “information” out of individuals, a few people were told that they “match the description” of someone who allegedly assaulted an officer. APD officers said they were hunting down the “ringleaders”. An officer went around to all of the business owners on Nov. 1 to let them know that APD is “at their service” as they try to shore up support from business owners for their heavy-handed bullying tactics.

APD claims that officers were assaulted on Halloween. I did not witness any such thing. I did witness officers assaulting people who love and are not afraid of freedom. I would not, however, feel an inkling of remorse if individuals did stand up to police abuse and their violent attempts to crush our freedom by returning some of the pain and humiliation that these shells of human beings inflict with impunity on a regular basis in our communities.

Shane Perlowin