By Clint Parker
Asheville – What started as a peaceful protest on a Sunday afternoon (May 31) by demonstrators over the death of George Floyd turned into riots over a series of nights after that ending in vandalism, rubber bullets, tear gas and arrests. Floyd, a Minnesota man, was killed when a police officer pressed on his neck with his knee for more than eight minutes.
The Tribune sent a photographer on night four (Wednesday, June 3rd) of the protests. A day or so after the City of Asheville issued an 8 pm curfew to protestors.
The demonstration had almost a carnival-like atmosphere with music and dancing interspersed with chants of protestors’ voices, shouts of profanity directed towards the police and honks of motor vehicles’ horns either in solidarity with the protestors or warning them to get out of the road.
As the curfew deadline approached, things became more polarized with the crowd either set on defying the order to vacate the streets or starting to walk away from the large crowd to comply with authority.
Not long after 8 pm, only police, national guard, a much smaller, defiant protestors, official observers and the media were left on the streets as the police looked to be gearing up for some action.
Police then formed a line and started toward the crowd, which caused people to start moving, some faster than others, down College Street toward Pritchard Park and onto Patton Ave.
The protest group then made a left on Ottis Street in front of the Federal Courthouse. It was there police started deploring teargas and some news media crews were caught on the courthouse steps by the gas.
Most of the protestors worked their way back around toward the civic center on Haywood Street, where police started making mass arrests. They used their bicycle patrol officers along with their rides to detain protestors.
Editor’s note: The Tribune photographer was caught by some of the teargas and eventually had to leave to get relief from the effect of the gas.