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W. Asheville crime wave alleged
Monday, 02 December 2019 22:33
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A presentation on an alleged major crime wave besieging West Asheville was made to the Council of Independent Business Owners on Nov. 15 during its breakfast meeting at UNC Asheville’s Sherrill Center.

John Miall, a long-time former City of Asheville employee and former Asheville mayoral candidate in 2015, led the address, assisted by two fellow West Asheville Neighborhood Alliance members — Sanjit Patel and Conda Painter.

They said WANA is seeking greater restrictions on where need exchange programs can operate in Buncombe County and throughout the state.

Miall worked for 30 years for the city, holding positions in human resources, benefits management and as director of risk management. Most recently, he served as chairman of Asheville’s Civil Service board.

CIBO’s agenda listed their topic as “Crime, safety, cleanliness, drugs and homeless issues facing West Asheville. “

Specifically, the trio, on the behalf of WANA, expressed concerns over what they termed as major fallout from entities espousing anarchy and wanting to crash the economy and social order in West Asheville via a needle exchange program by Steady Collective from 1:30 to 4 p.m. Tuesdays at Firestorm Books & Coffee at 610 Haywood Rd.

The trio cited Steady Collective’s and Firestorm’s stated concerns about “gentrification” in West Asheville, resulting in soaring housing costs, and a desire to reverse that trend.

To that end, the trio surmised that skyrocketing crime, safety, cleanliness, drugs and homeless issues in that area could be tied to the efforts of the alleged anarchists and their supporters.

In a website posting, Steady Collective states, “Our goal is to improve overall community health by reducing the rate of drug overdose and the spread of infectious disease with education, advocacy, and direct services... Please consider donating to our gentrification resistance survival fund!”

Regarding his contacts with specialists in the field of addiction and drug use through his years in jobs with the city, Miall said,  “There are two immutable axioms I have learned from the people in that business. 1) you cannot enable an addict to a better outcome, and 2) only an accredited rehabilitation program can achieve recovery.”

He added, “We’ve simply moved the problem from Biltmore to downtown Asheville to West Asheville....”

After speaking for several minutes, Miall turned the presentation over to Painter and Patel, who began by showing a brief video titled “Walkable West Asheville.”

In the video, it was noted that “the (West Asheville) neighborhood changed, as homeless people and drug addicts started appearing.... That’s when we started the West Asheville Neighborhood Alliance.”

They also stated that, in July 2015, “Firestorm Books and Coffee opened and espoused anarchy in West Asheville.”

(On its website, Firestorm states, “Firestorm’s mission is to demonstrate the feasibility and desirability of a workplace based on free cooperation. We seek to sustain and nourish our collective through fulfilling work, personal empowerment and equitable compensation while providing a hub for anarchist thought and culture in WNC.”

However, in the presentation to CIBO, the trio spoke of “Firestorm’s anarchist, anti-authority message,” while adding that “it’s interesting, as the majority of opiate addicts are white.”

They said they feared that Steady Collective and Firestorm were trying to bring down the infracstructure of West Asheville “through the schools” and through its needle exchange involving Steady Collective.

They charged that, at a Firestorm meeting in 2018, “needles were found in playground at Rainbow Community School, located near to Firestorm at 574 HaywoodRd. (A website posting says Rainbow is a private school serving about 200 students, preschool through eighth-grade.)

They spoke of a “transient/homeless drop-off at Family Dollar,” across Haywood Road from Firestorm, and that there is “transient and homeless camping in front of Firestorm.”

What’s more, the trio charged that “discarded needles” have been found “in the backyard of a residential lot” near Firestorm Books and Rainbow school.

They noted that “a 26-year-old was found dead” in the area recently, with “bullet holes in a car and in a red fence at Rainbow school, right next” to where Steady Collective conducts its needle exchange at Firestorm.

They attributed much of the opioid issues to the needle exchange, alleging that “crime statistics within 7 miles of Steady Collective (at Firestorm Books)” have soared.

Buncombe County did not see an epidemic with opioids until 2016-17, they contended. And, for Buncombe, the opioid problems is “centered around 25 to 44 year olds.”

To that end, the trio charged, “Firestorm is working with Steady Collective to weaponize the needle exchange law to wreck our community — because they are doing it under the guise of ‘social justice,’” as a form of virtue signaling

Patel then asserted, “Thanks everyone for listening. On your table is our proposal.”

Miall added, “They’re calling it a ‘needle exchange’…. But there is no ‘exchange.’”

The presentation was followed by a question-and-answer period, during which an unidentified man noted that, at “the old Kmart parking lot (on Patton Avenue)… You’d find an old motor home. There are needles all over” the parking area around it, he said.

The same man noted that a church near Firestorm Books — the name of which he did not identify — “is having a heck of a time getting any response” with its complaints about homeless people hanging out on its front steps and leaving syringes. “Do you have any suggestions?”

“In the legislation (that the group is urging passage of), we push monitoring them to get more of the population off drugs,” Patel said.

CIBO member Bill Oglesby told the trio, “I appreciate your comments. It’s a horrible problem. Do you have City Council behind you? Do you have a legislator in Raleigh who will push this to get something done?”

“We were hoping (N.C. Rep.) Chuck Edwards (R-Hendersonville) would be here. We showed you (the crisis in) West Asheville, but the lack of legislation” has affected — or eventually will affect — many areas of North Carolina.

Miall added, “Part of the answer is ... we have a law now that’s not enforceable.”

A reporter from the Mountain Xpress, the only other newspaper besides the Daily Planet covering the meeting, asked, “Why are you so convinced that Steady Collective,” through its Firestorm Books needle exchange), is the source of the problem?

The reporter added, “That’s potentially collateral damage.”

Painter replied, “Their (Steady Collective’s and Firestorm Books’) solution in West Asheville is to make it so bad and have so much crime to make it so miserable so that we have” gentrification reversed, with people leaving and housing costs dropping.

Miall then asserted, “ It’s no accident, in my opinion, that you’ve got a bookstore fronting for” an act of anarchy executed through the needle exchange program.”

At that point, CIBO member Steve Aceto, an Asheville lawyer who heads Aceto Law Office in downtown Ashevile and lives in Black Mountain, said, “Anarchism is a religious cult. They agree with (Karl) Marx” on a philosophical concept known as dialectical materialism.

“You create conflict in society... You have to go through Hell to get to Heaven. This is a an apocalyptic notion — that you can take two opposite things and end up with something better. What you end up with is” a horrible situation.

“The (political) left is deceived on this. If I may be so bold to say... This is a matter for prayer. If you talk to Congress, it is utterly discouraging to them — the conflicts they have. 

“We have an ideological problem that’s spiritual. When you see the words ‘anarchist,’ ‘dialectic’” and others — “those are dog whistles for an ideology that is devastating and pernicious,” Aceto said.

Walkable West Asheville’s ‘Firestorm narrative’

EDITOR’S NOTE: The following is the unedited text of the prepared narrative, titled “Firestorm narrative,” which was presented by members of Walkable West Asheville to the Council of Independent Business Owners on Nov. 15 at UNC Asheville’s Sherrill Center.

Slide 1 - Walkable West Asheville

A native’s history of west asheville

Slide 2 - End of the Car line

Concern about neighborhood changing.  Move to start an alliance.


Slide 1

Firestorm books and coffee first opened in downtown Asheville in 2008.  Evan Scott wrote their mission statement declaring the bookstore as a meeting place for anarchists.  They use the bookstore as a front to implement their agenda.


Slide 2

Their movement has been brainwashing young children with books designed to teach them white people are bad and have a responsibility to speak out against other white people.  On the bottom left of the page you will see “ABCs of Anarchy”.  You can see where they are going with that.


Slide 3

Titles like ‘Tell me about sex’, ‘not my idea’, and ‘how mamas love their babies’ are just a few of the alternative childrens books that have been distributed to Rainbow School, Claxton School and Odyssey Community School.


Slide 4

They created Asheville Prison Books.  This program distributes books with ideas to incite protests and violence in the prison system.  They openly denounce prisons and claim it to be a racist construct ‘by the white man’.  They distributed copies of this book to the prison inmates.  A quote found in the introduction of this book clearly points out the message of this book.


Slide 5

I’ve provided some background on the bookstore which shows how unsavory these people are and how they intend to dismantle the community.  In their latest endeavor, 

after moving to West Asheville, Steady Collective was offered a space in the back to distribute needles to drug addicts.  Seen here is Hillary Brown, the organizer of the needle dispensary.  She and her proponents, along with the media, purport to make the community safer.  


Slide 6

Amid all the conflict, the media didn’t report on homeowners’ perspectives on the traffic Steady Collective has attracted to West Asheville.  Media outlets refuse to acknowledge the problems that came to the quiet community.  SC and several leftist media outlets label anyone against them as ‘racist’ and ‘gentrifiers’.    


Slide 7

Seen here is a post distributed by Firestorm to asking people to ignore the drug addicts and homeless they are inviting to WAVL.  “Don’t be a racist.”  It’s interesting they point this out because majority of Opioid addicts are white. 


Slide 8

In a good faith effort, concerned residents showed up to “Open up Dialogue” at the first community safety meeting held at Grace Baptist Church.  Firestorm, Steady Collective, and Shannon Boston heckled business owners and parents who were voicing concerns for child safety.  They dismissed any safety concerns about needles being found by children at Rainbow School.  The owner of a yoga studio adjacent to the dispensary was doxxed for speaking up.  Her business was attacked online with dozens of false negative reviews.


Slide 9

The meeting had little impact on cleaning up the trash.  More people have been trickling into West Asheville.  These transients get dropped off at night in the Family Dollar parking lot.  Here you can see 4 people with heavily loaded backpacks.  Later that evening, 2 walked up the side walk past Standard Pizza.  Many times, these cars have out of state license plates.  These drop offs are before the dispensary is open on tuesdays.


Slide 10

The video I’m about to play will show the transients and homeless camped out for the night in front of Firestorm.

Slide 11

Here is another transient passed out on the sidewalk in front of Steady Collective - forcing people to walk into the street.  Individuals inside the bookstore shouted down APD when they tried to clean up the sidewalks.  After many complaints by residents near the business, Firestorm asked their guests to find other places to camp out.


Slide 12

Here are 2 bottles full of needles left behind on a residential property behind a privacy fence.  Transients find secluded spots to camp out or to inject themselves.  The image on the right is a needle partially buried under the leaves, waiting to stick someone.


Slide 13

So far you have seen observations made by us.  Now I’ll show you observations and statistics provided by WLOS and Asheville Police Department.  On this slide is the crime scene at Rainbow Community School.  As recently as January 11, 2019, a man was found dead, shot in the head with a pistol.  He was found in his car parked at Rainbow Community School.  Right. Next. To. Steady Collective.  Police found a gun, 4 cell phones and several hundred dollars in cash.  (But no drugs).


Slide 14

Despite the claims made by Steady Collective, they arrived before the opioid epidemic took hold in West Asheville.  A member of West Asheville Crime watch used a tool to show when the epidemic began.  It raises questions on whether SC is really here to help or hurt.  Is Steady Collective and other illegitimate dispensaries driving up the OD?

Slide 15

Here you see thefts have doubled since last year for the area within .5 miles of SC.  If this was a general trend, then the 7 mile radius would show the same proportional increase.


Slide 16

Here you see the trend in thefts for a 7 mile radius around SC.  You’ll see that it grew, but by 33%, not 200%.


Slide 17-18-19

These slides were taken from the CDC.  They show that since 2015, Buncombe county did not see an epidemic until 2016 and 2017.  I’ll remind you that SC established itself in November 2015.


Slide 20

On Tuesdays, after the needle exchange closes, drug users burglarize houses in the neighborhood and sell their loot at the pawn shop.  This is a heat map obtained from the Asheville Police Dept.  The red hotspot is the gas station next to I-240.  The center of the yellow spot on the left is 610 Haywood Rd - Firestorm.  Steady Collective.


Slide 21

Steady Collective is failing to provide the help that it was organized to do.  Hillary Brown, during an open community meeting, admitted she does not refer patients to rehab or counseling centers.  It doesn’t stop there.  This program has brought a lot of property crime to this area.  To mitigate the impact of their ill conceived ideas, we are proposing a change to the legislative addendum that defines needle exchanges.


Steady Collective defends efforts in Oct. 28 statement



From Staff Reports

An official at Steady Collective, the Needle Exchange Program of Asheville, could not be reached by press deadline for a response to charges made against it at at the Nov. 15 meeting of the Council of Independent Business Owners.

However, at the Let’s Talk Opioids event, held Oct. 28 in the Banquet Hall of the U.S. Cellular Center in downtown Asheville, data was presented by Buncombe County Health and Human Services officals showing that the county had experienced a 30 percent decrease in opioid-related deaths in 2017-18 after years of decreases.

Moreover, Steady Collective, in a statement, pointed out that, besides providing clean needles, it also has distributed nearly 6,200 naloxone overdose reveral kits and that 877 successful overdose reversals have been reported to Steady Collective since 2016.

“We need harm reduction in Appalachia now more than ever and we oppose any attempts to regulate programs out of cities like Asheville, where rates of overdoses are particularly high. People using drugs deserve support, and we are honored to meet people where they are and provide needed care,” the Steady Collective statement asserted.

“Steady Collective was the first harm reduction program in Buncombe County to distribute naloxone and has continued to remain deeply committed to the Principles of Harm Reduction (national best practices) despite immense pressure to alter evidence-based services or close certain locations,” the statement added.

The Steady Collective and the City of Asheville have been embroiled in lengthy legal battles, with the city claiming that the group’s West Asheville location (at Firestorm Books on Haywood Road in West Asheville) was in voilation of zoning ordinances. The city issued notices of violation that threatened to close the program.

However, after more than six months of discussions and a lengthy appeals process, the city dropped that assertion in March.



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