Statement: Police Target Mutual Aid

The following is a statement issued February 5, 2022 from defendants (at that point, 7 people) facing charges in Asheville, NC as part of the city government’s attempt to repress food sharing and mutual aid organizing:

We, the defendants, understand these arrests to be part of a larger strategy of the Asheville Police Department and City government to end mutual aid in Asheville. Mutual aid is loving hard and caring for folks in community by working cooperatively, resourcing, and networking to meet everyone’s basic needs. City officials have time and again chosen to sacrifice the survival of homeless and poor folks of this city in the name of profit and tourism. Now they’ve chosen to target mutual aid work in Asheville because this work shines a light on the pervasive, immeasurable failures of the government to care for its community.

From December 19th to December 25th, 2021, a group of locals – both housed and unhoused, youth and adults – gathered at Aston Park in downtown Asheville for a community art build. This was to create art together, share hot food, and bring attention to the violent, inhumane treatment of homeless folks by the city government. In the weeks following, Asheville Police Department issued arrest warrants for seven locals, charging each of them with both felony littering and aiding & abetting felony littering. APD officers arrested two individuals from their places of work and attempted to do so to another. APD arrested a third individual at their home. To avoid continued harassment from APD, four individuals elected to turn themselves in. Following the arrests, APD proceeded to share personal information about six of the seven arrestees on social media.

These charges are just one of multiple attempts by City government to repress our movement. We see these accusations as an attempt to incapacitate and exhaust those who believe adamantly that ALL members of our community should be housed, nourished, cared for, and have agency over their own lives.

These arrests come amidst a county wide wave of camp sweeps that aim to uproot, traumatize, and wipe out homeless people in Asheville. Over recent months, there has also been an increase of targeted harassment against homeless community members who are known to be politicized and outspoken about the violence they face. Recently, Asheville City government has also attempted to criminalize food sharing in public parks as yet another way to push homeless people and housed allies out of public space and to ultimately outlaw mutual aid.

We need your help.

Thank you to those in this community who have reached out to offer support, express rage, and extend resources. We are in awe of our community’s commitment to hold each other through difficult times. Moving forward, we ask two things of those wishing to stand in solidarity with us: First, we will need our community behind us to make it through. Within your networks, help us make it known that this is much larger than legal proceedings against seven people. This is a politically-motivated attempt to end mutual aid in our town.

Second, as the state tries to actively disrupt our ability to support each other’s basic needs, we must hold each other even closer. We write this statement as a call to continue mutual aid. Share food, share support, and share love for one another. The more people continue showing up, the stronger and more resilient our networks become.

Mutual Aid is under attack.

In a time when APD and City Government are trying to intimidate, we can let them know we will not be scared. We will never stop. We will always be here, because all we have is each other.

in solidarity and community,
the defendants