Asheville Daily Planet
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Attack on Vance Monument... terrorism? 2 men charged after 2 explosives hurled at downtown landmark on July 4th
Thursday, 21 July 2022 14:09
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Two men have been arrested following an attack — involving lighting and throwing improvised explosive devices (similar to pipe bombs) at the remnant (the base) of the Vance Monument in downtown Asheville —  amid a crowd mulling around about an hour after the city’s Fourth of July fireworks gala had finished, according to the Asheville Police Department.

However, nobody was hurt and there was reportedly no damage to the monument’s base. 

The remainder of the 75-foot-tall granite obelisk monument has been deconstructed by the city and its stone blocks and other parts are being held, reportedly, in secure, undisclosed warehouses for safekeeping by Asheville officials until litigation over the final disposition of the monument ends.

The plaintiff in the case, which is being considered for appeal before the North Carolina Supreme Court, is the Society for the Historical Preservation of the 26th North Carolina Troops, of which Vance was a member.

The plaintiffs’ attorney, H. Edward Phillips III, has told the Daily Planet that, if his clients prevail in the case, the city would be required to rebuild the Vance Monument on its original site, or some similarly prominent location.

 On March 23, 2021, Asheville City Council voted 6-1 (with Sandra Kinglore standing alone in opposition) to remove the centerpiece (since 1898) of the city’s main downtown public square (Pack Square) because, it contended, it honors Zebulon B. Vance, a Weaverville native who was a former Confederate military officer, a Confederate war-time governor, a slave-holder and who made several documented highly negative comments about blacks. 

Council said it felt Vance did not deserve the honor.

“It was a potential act of terrorism, since nobody was hurt and the monument was not damaged,” Phillips told the Daily Planet in a July 15 telephone interview.

Meanwhile, APD spokesman Bill Davis told the Daily Planet on July 15 that “this case comes off the heels of an angry threat (via Facebook) from Antifa” toward the APD on July 3 —  and then this happened. Whether they (the Antifa threat and the terrorism incident) are connected, we can’t say (for sure).”

Phillips told the Daily Planet that he is bothered by “this whole notion of Antifa...Four of my cousins died fighting (for the U.S. against) the Nazis in World War II. 

“Some folks in modern America society conflate America’s past with ‘Nazi-ism,’ somehow, and they see ‘white supremacy’ under every rock. The vast majority of American are not racist.

“And this group (Antifa) is coming out and making these pronouncements and threats… and they are putting people at risk of harm.”

After a pause, Phillips asked, rhetorically, “If you start becoming the thing you say that you despise, then what good are you really doing? You are not (doing any good). You are potentially becoming fascistic yourself.”

The attorney then asked, again rhetorically, “Using violence and potential terror — what is the angle? Are they (Antifa) trying to start a much broader conflict in America? If so, they are ‘revolutionaries,’ not ‘anti-fascists.’”

He added, “If you think you are ‘a foot soldier’ in this cause, then you are in a situation where you have to ask yourself: ‘Can I bring about good in this world? I cannot bring good through violence.’”

Further, Phillips asserted, “You cannot bring about the soclal change you want through violence.

“If it is Antifa (behind the bombing attack on the Vance Monument), how is that making anything better? You are creating terror youself.”

In a separate interview with the Daily Planet a day earlier, on July 14, Phillips said, “I do not know the extent of the damage to the Vance Monument.

“I would hope that if I called over to the district attorney’s office regarding any damage,” he would be told (by DA Todd Williams) of any specific damage.

“Well,” Phillips added, “I had seen some of the coverage in press releases from the Asheville Police Department, so from my perspective, I would wonder: ‘Why in the world are people trying to take this (Vance Monument legal case) into their own hands” by trying to blow it up?

“This will be resolved in court — one way or another,” the attorney asserted firmly.

“In terms of keeping yourself out of trouble, you would think that the suspects wouldn’t seek this ‘self-help process’ by using homemade explosives that could imperil not only themselves, but others around them. What that says is complete disregard for the safety of others.”

“So what do you think about what has been termed by some as a very low bond, or lack thereof, set for the two suspects?” the Daily Planet asked Phillips. 

“I have seen higher bonds for lower-type of criminal offenses,” the attorney for the Vance Monument protectionists replied.

“When you are looking at something that could potentially kill someone — you have every intention to use it (explosives) for destructive purpose that could kill another person.

“Their best case-scenario is, if the thing malfunctions and nothing ever happens.

“Their worst-case scenario is killing somebody, or yourself, or both.”

However, Phillips acknowledged, insofar as setting bail is concerned, “It is ultimately a judgment call from the magistrate. 

“But if a person is set to do something that is violent and destructive, would you not want them to stay in jail and not be a position to do harm to somebody? 

“I would not want that hanging over my head as a prosector, magistrate or judge.”

Further, the attorney asserted, “Using explosives to try to destroy a piece of public property is a violent act and you should keep such perpetrators incarcerated because they have already demonstrated that they would – or could — take actions to harm others. Even if they did not harm anyone and just blew up the monument, it is still a violent act.”

“Is there anything new to report on his request for an appeal of the Vance Monument case that is before the N.C. Supreme Court?” the Daily Planet asked.

“There is nothing new with the Vance Monument case,” Phillips replied. “The state Supreme Court is taking its time — and that is fine by me.

“I guess what this (bombing attack) underscores is that there is so much vitriole over this Vance Monument issue. If people can do things like this, it creates an unhealthy and unsafe environment.

“I am not trying to belittle anyone, but at some point, the more you say it, the more you will have people on the fringe trying to destroy this object that is held in contempt and is perceived to be evil.

“Right now, I am shocked, in the sense that it happened, but I am not shocked that it happened. I expect anything and everything from these issues.

“I really am shocked on some level that people are trying to do this and, in other ways, I am not.

“And when it comes down to it, we all have to determine what is the right and proper way to act. And if people are not acting that way, then it makes it that more of a societal issue. 

“If we have come to the point where the only logical path we see is to destroy things we do not like with explosives, then I think we have come to a really bad place,” Phillips said in concluding the July 14 interview. 



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