Sunday, February 19, 2012

Occupy Asheville Breaks Camp

 Asheville, North Carolina's City Council voted on Valentines Day to prohibit camping in public parks, essentially criminalizing the unhoused. 

The ordinances went into effect on Friday, Feb. 17. They permit 24-hr protest, in certain designated areas, but no public camping.

Three Occupy Asheville participants were arrested after refusing to remove tents from around City Hall. These free speech defenders joined with dozens of others facing court for asserting Constitutional 1st Amendment Rights and breaking curfew laws restricting free speech in Asheville.

Anne Craig says it right
The next court date for Occupy Asheville is February 23. On docket are as many as 30 defendants arrested for participation in several Direct Action events throughout the city.  A half dozen activists were picked up on the street days after a Nov. 2. march and rally. Arrest warrants issued after police reviewed surveillance video. This writer is also facing court on three misdemeanor charges after serving as a National Lawyers Guild Legal Observer during an Occupy Asheville march and rally on Nov. 2., and was unjustly arrested at a subsequent rally several days later while also serving as a Legal Observer. 

Asheville native and VFP member John Penley returned from the Occupy  in Zucotti park to join with the Occupy Asheville encampment in front of City Hall.  He set up his tent on the plaza in front of City Hall as a form of symbolic free speech to test the newly enacted ordinances. Penley and two others from the encampment, traveling occupiers Perry Thompson Graham, 23, of Eugene, Oregon and Matthew Ryan Dannevik, 26, of Scribener, NE, were released after processing in the Buncombe County Jail.

The Occupy the Roads travel van arrived at the encampment as a show of support for Occupy Asheville, adding strength to the gathering at City Hall.

Thanks to VFP member and Legal Observer Jim Brown for these and other photos of the break-down of the Occupy Asheville encampment. City Hall Camp's over. Occupy is not!!!
Legal Observer Clare Hanrahan gets vital stats from Occupier John Penley. He was arrested after 10 p.m.

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Solidarity & Training With the Queen City Occupiers

Responding to a plea
for help from Occupy Charlotte, the New South Network of War Resisters provided a weekend of Nonviolent Direct Action trainings for the Charlotte occupiers who were facing a January 30 eviction. Charlotte City Council expanded police power with controversial new ordinances restricting political activity on city property  in advance of the August 2012 Democratic National Convention. Police Arrested seven occupiers at the central camp who stood their ground asserting 1st Amendment Rights to peaceably assemble.

With more than 100 supporters present chanting and singing, the police destroyed approxiatmately 35 tents as they were tossed into waiting city garbage trucks.

After referrals and encouragement from Mandy Carter , former Southeast Director for the War Resisters League and currently working with SONG, as well as NC Peace Action Board Chair, John Heuer, Coleman Smith contacted the Charlotte group to assist with final prepartions for two Direct Action Trainings. Smith, also a member of Occupy Asheville Nonviolent Direct Action Trainers Group, confirmed participation of Butch Turk, a Ruckus Society trainer and medical professional living in Hendersonville, NC, who provided blockade and physical training Friday on how to use your body and protect yourself and others during an action.

Coleman arrived Saturday to meet and
talk with Charlotte occupiers, listening to
local participants to understand their
experience and expectations for a direct
action. He crafted a 3 1/2 hour training in
Nonviolence for Sunday to help clarify
and focus the potential arrestees and their support people. 

After the action and arrests on January 30 of the "Queen City Seven," Smith and others took on Jail Support roles until all arrested were released without bail on their personal promise to show up in court.  Police returned to the site again on January 31 for further arrests.

Laurel Green, who helped coordinate the support people for the Occupy Charlotte action, remarked that the trainings provided by the New South Network helped to bring focus to the action and confidence to participants.