CHOOSING SIDES
GETTING ORGANIZED

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July 22

Submitted to It’s Going Down

Dozens of people are occupying the Asheville Police Department headquarters for a second day in a row in response to the police murder of Jai Jerry Williams over the 4th of July weekend. The occupation began the morning of Thursday July 21st after an unpermitted march through downtown clogged up traffic during rush hour.

The march began at the Asheville Chamber of Commerce drawing attention to the necessity of disrupting Asheville’s tourist economy in order to get justice for Jerry. Once the march hit the streets folks started chanting “We want justice” and “Shut it down” along with some anti-tourist chants. The march paused to listen to a recorded message from Jerry’s mom in which she called out the APD for being “domestic terrorists” and demanded the indictment of officer Tyler Radford, who fired seven shots into Jerry, literally blowing off his arm and ultimately killing him.

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The protest continued on to the Vance monument which was once the site of slave auctions in Asheville, and blocked traffic while speakers drew parallels between slavery, mass incarceration, and police terror. Then it was on to the APD headquarters where the crowd of 50 or so people swarmed into the lobby. The occupation is still going strong as of this writing and folks are making the most of this occupation with teach-ins, dialogue, and community building. If you live in the Asheville area, please come down to show your support.

In addition to the occupation there have been a steady wave of actions in Asheville in response to Jerry Williams death at the hands of the APD. There have been several banner drops over the interstate, a march through the Asheville mall, a balloon banner released inside the Grove Arcade (super bougie mall), daily vigils at the APD, as well as Justice for Jerry graffiti springing up around town.

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Unfortunately there has also been backlash against Jerry’s family and some black activists. Jerry’s family members have reported being harassed by the APD on multiple occasions, including being pulled over for no reason on the way to a rally. In addition the family has been getting harassed by carloads of white racists at night. In response, folks have set up overnight security in front of the family’s home to help ensure their safety.

Despite all the pain and sorrow Jerry’s family is going through, they remain strong in their determination to fight for justice. It is inspiring to see folks from all walks of life in Asheville stepping it up to help them in this fight.

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