The Chief of Police claimed the officers destroyed the bottles as they were placed in an illegal water station. He added that they were being used as weapons.
At a demonstration in Asheville, North Carolina, police officials of the Asheville Police Department confiscated protestors' water supplies, including several dozen plastic water bottles. Instead of storing them for future donation, the officers stabbed the water bottles with knives, destroying them and allowing the drinking water to flow down the street. After those present at the scene recorded videos of the destruction and posted them online, the APD received major backlash. The department has since responded to the criticism, claiming that demonstrators used the plastic water bottles as weapons to harm police officials. They said they were simply ensuring the safety of their officers, ABC News reports.
The videos were shared online via social media platforms. On Twitter, users called on local city officials to act responsibly. Tagging the City of Asheville's official Twitter handle, One user posted, "Hey. This kind of behavior seems antithetical to the values of our city. Respect the lawful protesters and go after the agitators." Another added, "This is a deliberate act of intimidation for protesters; removing a resource intended to sustain them and relief from tear gas. It's not just petty, it's deliberately cruel and designed to quell participation. It is shameful." Others pointed out that the bottles could have been donated to community centers, homeless shelters, or food pantries.
Asheville Police surround a medic station created by protesters as they stab water bottles with knives and tip over tables of medical supplies and food June 2, 2020. The medic team, made of EMTs and doctors, said the medical station was approved by the city. #avlnews pic.twitter.com/cLDperemsZ— Angie Wilhelm (@AngelaMWilhelm) June 3, 2020
When the Asheville Police Department received enough complaints to warrant a response, Chief of Police David Zack released a statement via Facebook. "Transparency and accountability is what our community expects and deserves," he wrote. "As the Chief of Police, I understand the concern has been raised over the destruction of water, food, and medical supplies. The Asheville Police Department would always prefer confiscation over destruction. We apologize for not being able to confiscate these supplies last night." The Chief went on to defend their actions by claiming that the bottles were placed at an illegal police station and were being used as makeshift weapons.
He continued, "Over the past three days, APD has tried to eliminate objects that can be thrown at protesters and law enforcement. Because water bottles, in particular, have been continuously used over the last three nights, officers destroyed them. Officers also searched for potentially dangerous objects, such as explosives." Chief Zack explained that those working the supply station had been given "multiple warnings" but as it was located "on private property, without the permission of the property owner," it had to be destroyed. While the city has been under a curfew for the past few days with special guidelines in place, there was absolutely no need for the destruction that the police officers were responsible for. Many Facebook users and residents of Asheville recognized this and responded with anger.
ASHEVILLE POLICE DEPARTMENT IS NOW TRYING TO COVER THEIR ASSES WITH THIS STATEMENT. Do not let this fool you. It is a publicity stunt. Do not listen to them. pic.twitter.com/SJO4dE7Qsp— Randi (@residentalienx) June 3, 2020
"I do not trust you to lead the officers that are meant to serve and protect," one user affirmed. "You had a choice to make that day and today and you made the wrong ones. Egregious use of power, lack of critical thinking, and excessive use of force. I do not pay taxes for them to be so grossly misused." Others brought up another incident instigated by officers of the Asheville Police Department. The cops destroyed a medic tent and even laid their hands on some of the medics present at the site. Another Asheville resident commented, "On a personal note, my daughter, who is an honors graduate from UNC-Chapel Hill and is now studying to be a nurse while working as a naturalist in Chimney Rock, was one of the young people working at this station. She is horrified and struggling with what the witness and experienced at the hands of your officers." There are no words to describe the aggression and needless destruction orchestrated by the police officials of the APD - and the police departments of the rest of the country.
Downtown #Asheville mural art depicting a scene from the #Asheville Police Department’s attack Tuesday night on a medic station set up to aid anyone injured in protests. #avlnews pic.twitter.com/nY4CS8UyxY— Jason Sandford (@Ashevegas) June 4, 2020
Dude the Asheville police department are straight up terrorists— ⬇️ Dropkick 👉 My studio ⬇️ (@dropkick_bass) June 4, 2020