Policing Is Not the Solution

Policing Is Not the Solution

July 21st, 2021

An abridged version of this statement appears in today's Mountain Xpress. It was signed by 55+ local business owners and nonprofit directors who reject recent calls by so called "Asheville Business Owners" to maintain or increase investment in policing.

At a private meeting on June 21st, dozens of local business owners met with Asheville city officials, including Mayor Manheimer, to address APD staffing challenges. Organizers—who claimed to speak on behalf of the entire business community—demanded more resources and support for police to resolve a litany of public health and safety issues. But the business community in Asheville is not homogeneous and many of us believe that new strategies are overdue. A June survey found that more than half of American voters feel similarly.¹

As local business owners and nonprofit directors who have been deeply impacted by the Movement for Black Lives, we know that police cannot solve the complex challenges Asheville faces. Like our colleagues, many of us have picked up endless trash and navigated scary encounters with strangers. At times we may feel overwhelmed by these situations, but we reject the conservative narrative that they are the result of social justice movements.² From housing shortages to drug overdoses, Asheville’s crises stem from deep dysfunctions and injustices. For too long, our city has overinvested in punishment and underinvested in equity—reliance on policing is not the solution, it is the problem.³

Defenders of the status quo will tell us that only police are capable of addressing our short term need for health and safety, but we know this is untrue. If we want to live in a just Asheville, we must practice justice on our journey. We believe our community is creative and passionate enough to solve its problems if we engage in a process that is truly inclusive. Such a process must center the voices of Black, immigrant, and working class Ashevillans, to whom we as businesses and nonprofits can be allies.

¹  By an +18 point margin, voters support changes to policing that shift all public safety functions related to traffic enforcement, homelessness, mental health, minor crime, & substance abuse to unarmed civil officers, social workers, and EMTs. Source: Data for Progress.

²  “A historic, once-in-a-lifetime worldwide event destabilized the lives of countless people, and also led to an undeniable rise in shootings and homicide across the country. However, right-leaning media have used the uptick in certain crime categories to weaponize a counter-narrative to social justice movements, one that argues we need more cops and law enforcement to save our cities.” Source: Fairness & Accuracy In Reporting (FAIR).

³  The City of Asheville’s proposed budget for 2021-22 includes $29.3 million for policing — equivalent to the expenditure on Equity & Inclusion, Transportation, Parks & Recreation, and Public Works combined. Source: City of Asheville.


Allyson Seifert, Pollen Coffee + Flowers
Alyx Perry & Jay Hill, Code for Asheville
Ami Worthen, Garnet Prose + Projects
Anuj Patel, Tech House
Ash, Beck, Esmé & Libertie, Firestorm Books & Coffee
Beth Trigg, Taproot Consulting
Bruno Y Hinojosa Ruiz, Compañeros Inmigrantes de las Montanas en Accion (CIMA)
Casey Campfield, The Crow & Quill
Casper Shoemaker, EMOTE
Chad Colwell, Flashcat Courier Co.
Chuck and Dre Donoghue, Greenhouse
Colin Alford, Percipis Consulting LLC
Darcel Eddins, Bountiful Cities
Desiree Adaway, The Adaway Group
E. Hamilton, Weedlady Asheville 
Ellen Catlin, Low Tide Design Studio
Emily, Donna, Klari, and Sam, Asheville Poverty Initiative
Emily Jeffords, 31 Suns Studio
Francesca Santi, Playdate
Gary Crossey, Irishguy Design Studio
Gillie Roberts, Ware
Gretchen Horn, Malaprop's Bookstore/Cafe
Hill Brown, Steady Collective
Honey Simone, Different Wrld
Hunter Savoy Jaffe, NAASSENE
Jae Miller-Davidson, Mountain Pet Valet
Jason Krekel, The Krektones
Jay Englebach and Gwen Casebeer, Black Trumpet Farm
Jazmin Francesca, Asheville Iridescence Yoga
Jefferson Ellison, Jawbreaking Creative
Jennifer Lapidus, Asheville Bread Festival
John Hale, Crocodile Wine
John Richard, John Richard Counseling
Joe Wilkerson, Body-Integrated Psychotherapy, PLLC
Kristen Molina-Nauert and Mike Belleme, The Nook
Letitia Walker, Purna Yoga 828
Lindsay Riley and Meghan McIver, Palm + Pine
Lindsey Dortch Brock, Lindsey Brock Counseling PLLC
Lydia See, Engaging Collections
Marsha Davis, Tzedek Social Justice Fund & Davis Squared Consulting
Matt Schnable & Mark Capon, Harvest Records
Meredith Leigh, MereLeigh Food
Nancy Dixon Walton, United Methodist
Patrick Conant, PRC Applications
Power In Numbers Bookkeeping
Robert Thomas, Racial Justice Coalition
Rosetta Star, Rosetta's Kitchen
Rue Robin, Resilient Roots Bodywork
Samhita Kudva, The Center for Participatory Change
Sarah B Jenkins, Sarah B Jenkins PLLC
Silver Cousler, Neng Jr.'s
Stephanie Swepson Twitty, Eagle Market Streets Dev Corp
Tamiko Ambrose Murray, Ambrose Consulting
Tarleton Walmsley, Garden Party
Tracy Davis-Black, LCSW PLLC
Ursula Wren, Roan Shay, and Co-Owners, Syndicate Press