Protesters gather downtown; Asheville and Buncombe governments close facilities
This is a developing story and will be updated.
About 150 protesters gathered in downtown Asheville at Pack Square Plaza on Thursday afternoon in support of Palestine. The initial crowd was 40 people but grew in the first half hour.
“Brick by brick, wall by wall, apartheid has to fall," protesters chanted.
Speakers called for an end to genocide and a ceasefire in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
“Its evil what’s going on. Everyday I'm crying and screaming about what I'm seeing on this screen," protester Ken Jones said. "What kind of people commit these atrocities? What kind of world do we live in? It is Israel, but our country, the United States, is doing this, too.”
Jones said the young protesters gave him hope for the future.
“This surveillance is happening because there is a sea change happening across the world and we’re part of it,” protester Evan Brannon said.
Protesters chanted, "Israel bombs. USA pays. How many kids have you killed today?"
A person named Sarah from Answer coalition said, “This is a genocide and we need to name it." She coordinated a walkout with students at Western Carolina University.
In anticipation of pro-Palestinian protests downtown, the City of Asheville shut down facilities Thursday afternoon.
According to a statement from the city, the following facilities closed at 2 p.m.
- City Hall at 70 Court Plaza
- City Municipal Building at 100 Court Plaza
- Public Works at 161 S. Charlotte Street
- Parking Services Building at 45 Wall Street
- 29 Haywood Street
Because of the Veteran's Day holiday, they will not reopen until Monday morning.
The expected action is part of a global movement "Shut It Down! for Palestine." The website calls for action across the country.
"We call on movements, organized labor, youth, students, media and healthcare workers, and all members of society to join us in demanding an immediate ceasefire, cutting all aid to Israel, and lifting the siege on Gaza," the website said.
Buncombe County closures include Elections, Planning, Permits, the Register of Deeds, the Family Justice Center, Tax Office, Health and Human Services, and County administrative offices. The Library Board meeting scheduled for Nov. 9 has also been canceled.
This article has been corrected to update the spelling of protester and shutdown.