At Asheville City Council meeting on Tuesday, June 9, public comments will be accepted on four items. We urge Asheville residents to comment on two of these Agenda items:
- BUDGET: Public hearing to consider the Fiscal Year 2020-21 Annual Operating Budget – See documents here
- CONFEDERATE MONUMENTS: Joint resolution with Buncombe County to remove the Confederate monuments located at the Buncombe County Courthouse and in Pack Square Park, and to establish a jointly appointed task force to recommend the action regarding the removal or repurposing of the Vance Monument — See documents here
The Agenda is posted online at: https://www.ashevillenc.gov/government/city-council-agenda
The proposed budget for 2020-2021, which includes an increase of more than $400,000 for the Asheville Police Department, already the largest expenditure category by far. The smallest expenditure category is Equity and Inclusion.
Many local activists are asking that the City of Asheville re-allocate funds from the police dept to mental health professionals and those helping diverse communities. Unfortunately, the budget for many levels of care are mostly incorporated into the police budget.
Talking points include:
- This is an important time in our city’s history to confront racism in our community and end violence against Black people and other people of color.
- We need to begin divesting from the police and investing in communities.
- 50% of the Asheville Police Department’s budget should be invested in long-term safety strategies, including supporting Black startups/business, eliminating the racial opportunity gap in Asheville City Schools, and funding an all-civilian oversight committee with the power to hold the APD and individual officers accountable.
- Budget policy reflects our values — What we invest in shows what we value and support in our community.
Background on Confederate Monuments
Monuments to Confederate soldiers and military leaders were installed in Asheville and many other communities in the South in the late 19th and early 20th centuries by white southerners seeking to preserve the Confederacy. These are widely perceived as offensive and painful public reminders of the legacy of slavery and present realities of systemic racism in our country.
We currently have two confederate monuments in our downtown square, both of them paid for and erected by the United Daughters of the Confederacy:
- A monument honoring the 60th Regiment of NC Confederate soldiers, which currently stands in front of the Courthouse, on county-owned land; and
- A Robert E. Lee Dixie Highway memorial monument, which is on city-owned land in Pack Square Park
The prominent Vance Monument, also located at Pack Square, honors a Confederate military officer and slave-holder who served as NC Governor and U. S. Senator. The highly visible Vance Monument stands on the site of the former county courthouse, where slaves were sold and traded locally.
You can read the full text of the Joint City-County Resolution here.
RELATED ACTION: Sign the petition to remove the Vance Monument: https://www.change.org/remove-vance-monument
How to Comment at the Meeting
Public comment will be taken from a live speaker queue. For this option, community members should listen to the meeting by phone by calling 855-925-2801 Meeting Code: 8958. Your phone will be muted and you will hear the meeting live. At this point callers will hear, “for more options please press *.” Pressing * will allow callers to continue to listen live, leave a comment as a message or join a speaker queue. Callers should only join the speaker queue during the time the agenda item on which they would like to speak is being discussed.
Calls will be played during the Council meeting in the order received and alternated with voicemails left prior to the meeting for up to an hour for each agenda item (except for the budget public hearing (the hour time limit will not apply). All comments will be limited to 3 minutes per person per item. Additionally, all comments must conform to City Council rules of decorum. Those comments that do not may be muted.
How to Follow the Live Meeting
Call toll-free to listen to the meeting on your phone: Call 855-925-2801 Meeting Code: 8958. Your phone will be muted but you will be able to hear what is happening in the meeting.
Watch the stream through the City of Asheville Public Engagement Hub at https://www.publicinput.com/hub/88
Watch on Charter Cable channel 193 and on AT&T U-Verse channel 99