Assault investigation unfolds: Asheville police probe incident at "ACAB" seminar (2024)

Assault investigation unfolds: Asheville police probe incident at "ACAB" seminar (1)

The Asheville Police Department is investigating an assault that occurred during the Another Carolina Anarchist Bookfair (ACAB) seminar on Saturday, June 29.

Assault investigation unfolds: Asheville police probe incident at "ACAB" seminar (2)

Officers responded to the West Asheville Library at approximately 2:57 p.m. after reports of a fight in progress. The seminar, “Strategic Lessons from the Palestinian Resistance,” had between 80 and 100 attendees, all wearing face masks. The event organizers told them to, according to an Instagram post.

Assault investigation unfolds: Asheville police probe incident at "ACAB" seminar (3)

Upon arrival, officers saw a crowd dispersing. They identified three victims—David Moritz, Monica Buckley, and Bob Campbell—who reported being assaulted while live-streaming the event on social media. According to the victims, another attendee forcefully took one of their cell phones, prompting a large crowd to attack and assault them. Campbell, 80, had multiple bruises, WLOS reported. The victims sustained minor injuries and were checked by EMS, police said.

Moritz and Buckley, who are Jewish, said they wanted to attend the event to learn more about what was being taught in their community. Buckley told WLOS she live-streamed the presentation because she feared for her safety. She said when someone stole her phone and she attempted to get it back, the violence started. A review of the full video shows attendees were blocking her camera from recording and harassing them before the assault, which wasn’t captured on her phone.

North Carolina is a one-party consent state, anyone has the right to record in public under state law. (Although Republican State Senator Tim Moffitt filed legislation last year to change it to a two-party consent state. As a mostly deaf person and as a journalist I support a one-party consent state. Other journalists also oppose making it a two-party consent state.) Last week state lawmakers passed an anti-masking law, HB 267, that went into effect July 1.

Following an initial investigation, police arrested Taylor Danielle Zarkin (06/15/1989), charging her with two counts of resisting, delaying, and obstructing an officer. The investigation into the robbery and assault remains ongoing.

Assault investigation unfolds: Asheville police probe incident at "ACAB" seminar (4)

Moritz, one of the victims, emphasized his intention to peacefully attend the presentation. He expressed concern over antisemitism in the community. "Nobody wants civilians to die. I don't want anyone to die, but again, I'm not responsible for what's happening in Israel. I have no control over what happens there. I'm just concerned about our community, the antisemitism here,” he told WLOS. He stressed the need to address such incidents to prevent further violence and discrimination. "We need to put a stop to it now, today, and I'm very encouraged that the police are taking it very seriously. There is never a justification for violence, regardless of any beliefs. They're allowed to speak their mind. They're allowed to have their beliefs, but I am as well."

Today, the West Asheville Library released a statement regarding the incident, according to WSPA: "On June 29, an outside group reserved a meeting room at West Asheville Branch Library under the name Another Carolina Bookfair for the purpose of an unspecified workshop. This was not a County-sponsored event. During the event, the staff librarian, who was not in the meeting room, was alerted to a disturbance and called 911. Law enforcement and emergency services responded, leading to an ongoing investigation by the Asheville Police Department. One arrest has been made. To clarify, the individual arrested is not and has never been a Buncombe County employee. Buncombe County Public Libraries make meeting rooms available to groups, organizations, and businesses to support the educational, cultural, and civic activities of the community. Our meeting room policies do not control the content of programs or events held in the meeting rooms but set basic terms and conditions for their use. The facilities are available on an equitable basis, regardless of the beliefs or affiliations of individuals or groups requesting their use. Persons attending programs and meetings are subject to all provisions of the Library’s Rules of Conduct. The use of the meeting rooms does not constitute an endorsem*nt of the program or organization by the Library or Buncombe County. Buncombe County Public Libraries do not condone violence or hate crimes in any way, and leadership is actively working with the Asheville Police Department."

Assault investigation unfolds: Asheville police probe incident at "ACAB" seminar (5)

Anyone with information regarding the incident or the identification of the offenders is urged to contact the Asheville Police Department at (828) 252-1110. Anonymous tips can also be submitted using the TIP2APD smartphone application (search “Asheville PD” in your app store) or by texting TIP2APD to 847411.

Just a few weeks earlier, Moritz was assaulted while waving an Israeli flag. Yesterday, July 1, Gov. Roy Cooper signed House Bill 942 into law, known as the Shalom Act. "We shouldn't need a bill that defines this for us to know that it's not right," Democrat State Sen. Julie Mayfield said. Mayfield was one of four senators who did not sign a resolution last year about the Israel-Hamas War.

"Defining antisemitism is important to stopping it, and this new law helps do that as antisemitic incidents are on the rise,” Governor Roy Cooper said yesterday. “While we protect the right to free speech, this legislation helps to make our state a more welcoming, inclusive and safe place for everyone."

Cops & Congress Commentary

This incident underscores the need for vigilance in public spaces and the importance of fostering a safe and inclusive environment for all community events.

The Ideological Clash: Anarchists vs. Police

The ACAB event organizers proudly call themselves anarchists on their website: “There’s perhaps never been a better time and greater need for us to gather as anarchists. Over the last five months, we’ve witnessed the Israeli state’s genocide of Palestinians as the IOF, along with allies such as the United States, massacres people in Gaza and beyond.”

Generally, anarchists fundamentally oppose the police because they view them as enforcers of state power, which anarchists believe perpetuates societal oppression and injustice. While it is crucial to address systemic issues, the role of law enforcement is vital in maintaining public safety and upholding the rule of law. Without police, society risks descending into chaos and lawlessness. The balance lies in minimizing the use of force and ensuring accountability within law enforcement, rather than eliminating its protective role. Historically, anarchists have criticized the police for suppressing dissent, yet the primary function of law enforcement is to maintain peace and order, protecting both the rights of protesters and the safety of the general public.

Anonymity among anarchists, while fostering solidarity, often serves to avoid accountability for illegal actions, complicating efforts to maintain order and threatening public safety. This concealment can embolden individuals to engage in violent and destructive acts without repercussions, undermining the rule of law. While anarchists argue that anonymity resists state surveillance, surveillance plays a critical role in preventing criminal activities and ensuring public safety. Upholding law and order is essential for a stable and just society, and anarchists' avoidance of accountability and engagement in violent tactics undermine the principles of transparency and justice.

Five Reasons North Carolina Should Remain a One-Party Consent State for Recording

North Carolina's current one-party consent law allows individuals to record conversations and interactions they are part of without needing the consent of all parties involved. This legal framework is critical for various reasons, particularly for journalists and those with disabilities. Although State Senator Tim Moffitt filed legislation last year to change North Carolina to a two-party consent state, it's essential to understand why maintaining the one-party consent law is vital. Here are five compelling reasons to support a one-party consent state:

1. Protecting Journalistic Integrity

Journalists play a crucial role in holding power to account and uncovering truths that may otherwise remain hidden. A one-party consent law allows journalists to record interactions and interviews without needing permission from all parties involved, which can be crucial in investigative reporting. It also allows for citizen journalists to record. Requiring consent from all parties could hinder journalists' ability to report on sensitive issues, particularly when dealing with whistleblowers or sources who may be reluctant to speak openly if they know they are being recorded.

2. Empowering Individuals with Disabilities

As a mostly deaf person, I understand the importance of being able to record conversations for later review and clarity. For those with hearing loss, being able to record without requiring the consent of all parties involved is not just a convenience but a necessity. It ensures that individuals can fully participate in conversations and access the information they need without unnecessary barriers.

3. Enhancing Public Accountability

Public accountability is significantly enhanced by the ability to record interactions in public spaces. Whether it’s police interactions, public meetings, or any other situation involving public officials, recording helps ensure that actions and words are accurately documented. This transparency is crucial for maintaining trust in public institutions and ensuring that those in power are held accountable for their actions.

4. Protecting Whistleblowers and Victims

Whistleblowers and victims of abuse or misconduct often need to provide evidence of their claims without alerting the other parties involved. A one-party consent law enables these individuals to gather necessary evidence discreetly, which can be essential for pursuing justice and holding wrongdoers accountable. A shift to a two-party consent law could deter potential whistleblowers from coming forward, thus protecting the perpetrators instead of the victims.

5. Preserving Personal Safety and Security

In situations where personal safety is at risk, being able to record without notifying the other party can be a vital tool. For instance, individuals facing harassment, domestic violence, or any threatening situation can record interactions as evidence for legal proceedings or personal protection. Removing this ability by requiring two-party consent could place individuals in dangerous situations and compromise their safety.

While the proposed shift to a two-party consent state may stem from privacy concerns, the benefits of maintaining North Carolina’s one-party consent law far outweigh the potential drawbacks. This legal framework supports journalistic freedom, protects the rights of individuals with disabilities, enhances public accountability, safeguards whistleblowers and victims, and ensures personal safety and security.

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Assault investigation unfolds: Asheville police probe incident at "ACAB" seminar (2024)
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