Statement: The City Is Misusing Resources

Statement released by the defendants on April 14, 2022

As the Asheville Police Department and the City of Asheville continue to pursue felony charges against 15 community members, let’s take a closer look at some of the narratives they’re relying on to justify their actions…

APD perpetuates a narrative that they are both understaffed and underfunded. Two weeks ago, Chief Zack announced 59 empty positions within APD. With an average APD salary is $55,400, these open positions leave an estimated $3,250,300 in unused budget annually. While APD claims they are direly under-resourced, their actions in the last five months paint a different picture.

Media present at Aston Park on Christmas Day documented over a dozen officers present to evict campers and perform arrests at a small intergenerational potluck/art party advocating for sanctuary camping. 

APD then spent six weeks dedicating officers to pursuing 15 individuals on felony littering and related charges including arresting people at work and monitoring their homes, on top of jail and court personnel-time.

APD has enstated three-year bans from all city parks for the defendants, none of whom have been convicted of the crimes the bans are based on. Appealing these wrongful bans has led to ten individual hearings with the Director of Parks and Rec, the Parks & Rec area manager, APD staff, and a City attorney. Based on posted salaries, a conservative estimate of the cost of appeals alone is over $3000 (more than the damages alleged by the city).

The DA’s office appears to have been pressured to drag this out into lengthy criminal proceedings which will vastly increase costs to the city through court-appointed attorney fees and prosecuting attorney salaries.

The city has already spent tens of thousands of dollars on a process to pursue people for reported damages of just $2,680, and it is still ongoing.State repression is expensive. 

What if the City took the financial resources they are using to target mutual aid organizations, and instead reallocated just a fraction to fully cover the cost of sanctuary camping areas with sanitation and water services?

Who do they protect? Who do they serve?

Click here for more on sanctuary camping.