Call to Action – Attend a listening session

Tell City Officials: Divest from APD and invest in the Black community

This week, Asheville City Manager Debra Campbell’s office has set up “listening sessions” and a questionnaire to gather public input on “reimagining public safety” in our city. These sessions might be the only opportunity many of us will have to make input to the process, and they are all crammed into four days this week, so it’s essential that RJC members show up to support the cause of racial justice. We need to let City officials know that it’s time to divest resources from the police and invest them in the Black community. Will you join us? Pick which session you can attend (and then scroll down to tell us which one you picked and to see some suggested talking points.)

Here are the links to join the various Listening Sessions (or participate in the questionnaire):

  1. Tuesday, September 8, 12:30-2:00 p.m. Location: Virtual – Join by phone or online Click to here register for this session
  2. Wednesday, September 9, 12:30-2:00 p.m. Location: Virtual – Join by phone or online Click here to register for this session
  3. Wednesday, September 9, 6:00 -7:30 p.m. (plus Civics 101 – in addition to the listening session, participants will also learn about City operations, who’s responsible for what, and how you can get more involved in the community.) Location – Virtual – Join by phone or online Click here to register for this session
  4. Thursday, September 10, 6:00 -7:30 p.m. Location: Virtual – Join by phone or online Click here to register for this session
  5. Friday, September 11, 11:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m. Location: Virtual – Join by phone or online Click to here register for this session
  6. Friday, September 11, 2 p.m. – 4:30 p.m. In-Person Drop-In Event (This event will be conducted in 30-minute intervals to provide adequate safety for all attendees. Use the registration link to let them know what time you plan to attend! They will provide interactive experiences to learn about current public safety measures and imagine what our future public safety could look like. All attendees are asked to wear a mask. If you do not have one, they will have masks and other PPE available) LOCATION: Arthur R. Edington Education & Career Center – 133 Livingston Street, Asheville, NC 28801. Click to here register for this session
    • 2:00 – 2:30 p.m.
    • 2:40 – 3:10 p.m.
    • 3:20 – 3:50 p.m.
    • 4:00 – 4:30 p.m.
  7. Questionnaire, due September 11, 8 pm – Click here to fill it out.

Some things to say:

  • I’m here to advocate for a 50% divestment from the police department, with those funds reallocated toward community-based models of safety, support, and prevention. The people called upon to intervene when there are crises in our communities should be people who can intervene in the safest way possible, instead of people with guns who are not from our community coming in from the outside. We could replace police officers with mental health and social work service providers, along with religious leaders and neighbors and friends, people who know the community from the inside, who could work together to collectively keep each other safe. 
  • Over-policing of Asheville’s Black community is deeply intertwined with this city’s long history of exploitation and violent or lethal force for our Black and Brown residents. In order to create public safety, we must divest funds from the police and invest in the economic rise for Asheville’s Black community. Reimagining policing goes hand-in-hand with the recent reparations resolution passed by the City Council which acknowledged these harms and promised real action.
  • You may also reference Black Asheville Demands or the Divest/Invest Page of RJC’s website for more ideas on what to say.

A note for white folks:

  • It’s essential that Black people and other people of color not stand alone in this moment, left to shoulder the burden of speaking out for racial justice on their own. 
  • At the same time, the voices that need to be heard most urgently are those from the Black community and other people of color.
  • We encourage all white RJC advocates to show up for these sessions and be prepared to give voice to the urgency of a bold reimagining of public safety. We also encourage white advocates to be aware of the space you are taking up, and center the voices of Black people and other people of color.