We are 16 Asheville community members who have been charged with a total of over two dozen felonies in connection to a protest bringing attention to the expressed needs of homeless folks in Asheville and highlighting the city government’s violence against the homeless community. These events were centered around resisting encampment evictions, mobilizing immediate support when homeless folks are displaced, and holding public demonstrations calling for the opening of emergency cold-weather shelters and sanctuary camping with hygiene infrastructure inside the city.
We’re a group with varied activism experience – some have been organizing in this town for years, while others are just entering the movement. Many of us have been deeply involved in mutual aid efforts in Asheville since the beginning of the pandemic – organizing a free store & grocery deliveries, public food shares, fund redistribution, and various other programs seeking to meet the survival needs of our community.
Meanwhile, the City of Asheville has been slowly enacting more and more policy changes that make life increasingly difficult for folks living on the streets. Public restrooms have disappeared. Camp sweeps are happening way more frequently, with more than 20 sweeps in 2021, some during freezing temperatures. The City recently decreased the warning notice for camp evictions from 1 week to just 24 hours. And, most recently, there have been talks of ordinances shutting down food sharing in public parks.
These actions, coupled with the charges that have been brought against us, are part of the City of Asheville’s campaign to severely worsen the quality of life for folks who live outside, destroying networks of care and mutual aid in the process, while protecting only those that see Asheville as nothing more than an investment opportunity.
We continue to be committed to mutual aid, but now we must also contend with the massive emotional, financial, and time-consumptive burdens brought by facing trials on felony charges. We believe that there is nothing stronger or better than neighbors helping each other, and it is our hope that in resisting these charges the Asheville community can continue to be brought together. The biggest ask we have is for folks to not let the local intimidation affect people’s willingness to go share food and resources. We want to ask people to show up even more for distribution food, gear, and meeting each other’s needs! The more people are out there resisting this repression the stronger our networks become! We also are asking for people to help spread the word of this government repression and violence. There are also a couple ways to donate resources! If you are interested in donating to continued mutual aid in our area, donate to Asheville Survival Program (@avlsurvival). If you are interested in contributing to the legal funds and needs of the defendants (@avldefendantfund), and if you are interested in donating to resist future movement repression (@blueridgeABC).
Make soup share soup eat soup!