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Asheville City Council Meets Tuesday For First Time Since Protests

Matt Bush
Blue Ridge Public Radio

Asheville city council will meet on Tuesday evening.  It's the first meeting since last week's protests, which culminated with a list of demands from a collective of black leaders from city government, which included cutting funds for the city police department and using the money to invest in the black community.

Tuesday's meeting will be held virtually.  Public comment from residents will be taken live via phone during the meeting.  Agenda items include a public hearing on the city's proposed budget for the next fiscal year, which increases spending for the police department.  The group Black AVL Demands is seeking that 50% of the police department's annual budget instead be spent on 'long-term safety strategies' including financial support for black businesses and startups, efforts to close the racial achievement gap in Asheville City schools, and all-civilian oversight committee of the police department.

The group formally unveiled its demands during Saturday's 'March In Memory Of Black Lives Lost To Police Violence' in front of Asheville police headquarters in Pack Square.  Among those the activists spoke to was police chief David Zack, who is scheduled to address city council Tuesday.  Mayor Esther Manheimer, who was also present at Saturday's march, asked Zack to explain to council police actions during last week's protests.  That includes the destruction of supplies at a makeshift medical station for protesters, something Zack eventually apologized for two days after it occurred.  Initially, Zack said the supplies including bottles of water were destroyed because similar items were thrown at officers in riot gear earlier in the week.  Tear gas was used by law enforcement to disperse marchers during the first four nights of last week's protests, though the final three days went off peacefully without incident.  

Tuesday's meeting starts at 5 p.m.  For the full agenda, as well as instructions on how to give public comment live during the meeting, click here.  

Matt Bush joined Blue Ridge Public Radio as news director in August 2016. Excited at the opportunity the build up the news service for both stations as well as help launch BPR News, Matt made the jump to Western North Carolina from Washington D.C. For the 8 years prior to coming to Asheville, he worked at the NPR member station in the nation's capital as a reporter and anchor. Matt primarily covered the state of Maryland, including 6 years of covering the statehouse in Annapolis. Prior to that, he worked at WMAL in Washington and Metro Networks in Pittsburgh, the city he was born and raised in.
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