'Defund The Police' Mural Lasts Only A Few Hours In Asheville

Jun 22, 2020

The phrase “Defund The Police” could be seen from the skies on a street outside the Asheville Police Department Sunday. A group of artists and activists assembled to paint the bright yellow letters -- and a few hours later, they were met by counter protestors with blue paint. 

By 9am Monday, a fleet of public works employees with pressure washers were already spraying down the street. Flecks of yellow paint flowed into the storm drains. 

Just hours earlier, on Sunday afternoon, a group of protesters with buckets of yellow paint and rollers took to the stretch of Spruce St. in front of Pack Square Park -- steps away from the police department. Onlookers cheered and sang “Justice for Jerry.”

Jai "Jerry" Williams was a black man who was shot and killed by Asheville police in 2016. His family filed a civil rights complaint. Williams’ name and image has been circulated on social media in the weeks after the killing of George Floyd. 

The painted letters on Spruce were barely dry Sunday evening when a group of counter protestors took to the same block. APD spokesperson Christina Hallingse says the counter protestors arrived around 9pm. They splashed blue paint over the yellow words, while shouting Blue Lives Matter -- in defense of police. Videos show many of the counter protesters were not wearing masks. 

Hallingse says two people were arrested Monday morning for refusing to leave the site after police gave several warnings.