by WorldTribune Staff, September 13, 2022
Democrats who control the City of Asheville and leftist activists who infiltrated it following the death of George Floyd created the conditions for a “perfect storm” which swept violent crime to out-of-control proportions in the once idyllic North Carolina tourist city, critics say.
Violent crime has surged 31%, nearly double the national average, from 2016 to 2020, according to data released earlier this year.
The city of approximately 90,000 people in the Blue Ridge Mountains of Buncombe County ranks among the highest in North Carolina for violent crime, and law enforcement officials told Fox News Digital that part of the blame is on liberal political leadership and left-wing activists who undermine police.
“I think what you’re seeing in Asheville right now is a culmination of the last several years of pulling police back and not letting them do their jobs like they’re able to do,” former Buncombe County Sheriff Van Duncan told Fox News Digital.
‘Perfect Storm’ of Events’
Asheville Police Department (APD) Chief David Zack told Fox News Digital that the APD has lost more than 100 sworn officers since May 2020, which he noted is roughly equivalent to 600 years of experience walking out the door.
“There certainly have been questions about support [for police] from elected officials, from the president of the United States right on down, so it’s not just local leaders,” Zack said. “It’s just been like a perfect storm of events and circumstances that are driving officers out of the profession who have a significant amount of time and experience invested.”
Speaking on the rise in violent crime, Zack said: “I certainly think that with the losses that we have, our ability to be proactive and also our ability to be visible are partly causing some of the increases. Because we’ve lost so many officers, and we’re operating at almost 42% down every single day, officer presence and officer visibility are not what they were.”
Zack also said fentanyl in the region has gotten “out of control,” and that the amount they have been taking off the street is “alarming.” He recounted that county police recently made the biggest fentanyl bust in Buncombe County history until APD made a bigger bust weeks later.
Related: Organizer of Asheville ‘Back the Blue’ rally got no support from city, media, August 7, 2020
Chad Nesbitt, the former chair of the Buncombe County Republican Party who now works as a local investigative journalist, attributed some of the city’s problems to Antifa’s presence, which he described as “the hub of Antifa” in the region.
“It’s devastating what they’ve done here in town and the Asheville area,” Nesbitt said of Antifa.
Nesbitt said local Antifa have used George Floyd’s death “as an excuse to bring anarchy to this city.”
Asheville drew national attention this summer when Mountain Area Pregnancy Services, a local faith-based crisis pregnancy center, was among several similar pro-life establishments nationwide that were vandalized in June by the radical, Antifa-affiliated pro-abortion group “Jane’s Revenge.”
Leaders ‘Care More About An Agenda’
“The ‘git up and go’ of Asheville’s weak leadership ‘got up and went’,” said former furniture manufacturer and Asheville resident David Bradley.
“A rally was organized in August, 2020 of over 1,000 people called Back the Blue, and the city did absolutely nothing,” Bradley told WorldTribune.com.
“The Asheville Citizen Times — the Gannett daily — was nowhere. This city is now getting what it planted. Our downtown has lost its charm and is no longer thought of as safe. The people need to wake up!” he said.
“Back in August of 2020, we noticed a decline in morale within the ranks of our local law enforcement,” Ed Brown, who organized a Back the Blue Rally, told WorldTribune.com.
“Knowing this, the community came together to show love and support to the men and women that protect our city and county. We did this by showing up in strength, 1,000+ community members from all parties, all walks of life. Our parade went on for over 3 miles celebrating local law enforcement.”
Brown continued: “Unfortunately, the county and city leadership didn’t see it the same way. Leadership has continued over the past 2 years to show they care more about an agenda then they do about the people they represent and lead.”
Joey Reece, who is now retired after serving 12 years as a state trooper and another 22 years as an agent with the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) in the area, told Fox News Digital how Asheville has declined since he grew up there.
“You’re going to have to literally go back to some old 1990s-style law enforcement, and people have to be put in jail who commit crimes,” he said. “Or Asheville will soon become a non-entity. Asheville will not be a vacation destination. It won’t be a retirement destination. We’re already in the top 10% of violent cities in America.”
“There’s no stopping it unless you change what you’re doing,” Reece added. “And to do that, you have to have community resolve. And I think the community that is there now doesn’t have that resolve. I think they’re more of an enabling community, and I don’t see it getting any better.”