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Black officials blast police gang data release; APD apologizes
Tuesday, 06 August 2019 22:43

From Staff Reports 


The Asheville Police Department issued an apology after its recent release “of its numbers on gangs” triggered cricism from some local black officials who contended that “the data is not helpful in addressing gun violence and could be a pretext for biased policing,” a July 12 story in the Asheville Citizen Times reported.

On July 10, two days afer the ACT’s original story on the APD’s gang data release, Asheville City Councilwoman Sheneika Smith was quoted by the ACT as saying:

“I, like other members and allies to the black community, can’t help but fear that this is not about awareness. It’s black propaganda intended to criminalize blackness and give clearance to something that damages our existence further.”

Along the same lines on the same day, Delores Venable, president of Asheville Black Lives Matter and vice chair of the city’s Human Relations Commission, was quoted by the ACT as calling the data “skewed.”

“I think this is fear-mongering, more than anything” Venable said, according to the ACT

A day after the criticism of the APD’s gang date was voiced, July 11, an apology was issued from the APD from its media spokeswoman, Jerri Jameson, who said “she should have provided more context and details,” the ACT reported.

Further, Jameson told the ACT, “We have heard that the information provided by the city for the (ACT) article makes it look as if the people who live in the highlighted neighborhoods are the problems. We are also hearing that people feel the article perpetuates the idea that people of color are criminals. This is not what city government — including the Asheville Police Department — believes.”

The ACT also reported that “Jameson said the violence doesn’t define those neighborhoods which are made up of ‘hard- working people who deserve better and are often the victims, not the perpetrators.’

“Going forward, she said APD would more carefully consider if information could be misinterpreted and would provide fuller details.”

In its July 12 story, the newspaper noted that it “got the information for the July 8 article from APD after police linked gangs to rising gun violence. That happened at a June 25 City Council meeting, where City Manager Debra Campbell, who is African-American, highlighted shootings as major problem. At the meeting, Deputy Chief Jim Baumstark said the drug epidemic and gang violence were among causes of the 55 percent rise since 2016.”



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