Police officers in Asheville, NC were caught stomping on water bottles and destroying medical supplies at a station that was set up to help aid the demonstrators protesting the death of George Floyd.
The reported video shows Asheville police officers in riot gear and holding shields forming a protective circle around the other officers who are stabbing water bottles with a knife and stomping on them. Some other officers destroyed other medical supplies such as bandages and saline solution.
“A few minutes after 8 o’clock, we saw a SWAT team coming at us,” Sean Miller, a UNC-Asheville student who is head of communication for the medical team, said. “They immediately, when they approached, they said, ‘We’re Asheville Police Department, and you guys need to leave.’ They grabbed us by the shoulders and pushed out of the alleyway where we were trying to provide medical support.”
The team reportedly had a verbal agreement with the police department to be there, even after curfew.
Mayor Esther Manheimer has acknowledged the incident, and explained that the City Council is seeking an explanation. “I am aware of the incident involving officers destroying the medical supplies of demonstrators, including water bottles, food, and other supplies,” Manheimer wrote. “Council has asked for an explanation of why that occurred.” “We are a city that cares, and I want to thank all of our officers who have taken a knee and worked to protect us,” Manheimer continued. “But this was a disappointing moment in an otherwise peaceful evening.”
Since then, the police department has released a statement, saying, “Transparency and accountability is what our community expects and deserves.”
“As the Chief of Police I understand the concern has been raised over the destruction of water, food, and medical supplies,” he continued. “The Asheville Police Department (APD) would always prefer confiscation over destruction. We apologize for not being able to confiscate these supplies last night. 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. The supply station was not permitted by the City of Asheville and was located on private property, without the permission of the property owner. The actions involving the supply station occurred following multiple warnings, and after the 8:00 p.m. city-wide curfew. Last night, the city-wide curfew, coupled with law enforcement strategies and peaceful protesters, led to no physical injuries and minor property damage in the downtown area. We care about the safety of the protesters in our community. The Asheville Fire Department and the Buncombe County Emergency Medical Services (EMS) are always available, and have been staffed during the events, to treat those with injuries. Both of these agencies have been closely monitoring the protests for injuries. These services can be requested by contacting 9-1-1.”