Pete's Prep: Tuesday, Sept.4, 2018

Body cam video release intended to take down Police Chief?

Former Asheville City Councilmember Cecil Bothwell took to the pages of the Mountain Xpress to chastise his fellow leftists for demanding the resignation of Police Chief Tammy Hooper.

He takes aim at the Asheville Citizen-Times and its publication of the body cam video of the Johnnie Rush beating:

Lately, we have seen a media storm cooked up by the Asheville Citizen Times around a body-cam video revealing the assault on a black jaywalker, Johnnie Rush, by an APD officer — the release of which was illegal under North Carolina state law. Just to be clear: When I was chair of the Council’s Public Safety Committee, I argued long and hard that release of body-cam footage should be legal, at least with certain reasonable constraints. The N.C. General Assembly thinks otherwise. The daily has deemed it urgent to link that video post to a continuing series of stories connected to that sad event in which an innocent black man was violently assaulted by a white officer. Juicy stories have always sold papers.

The activist-community reaction has been to aver that the lag time between the officer assault and release of the video represents an attempt at a cover-up, and that the firing of the miscreant officer and ensuing indictment were the result of the video release. Sorry, no banana.

He goes on to allege that the same person(s) behind the video leak is (are) responsible for getting former Chief William Anderson to retire.

Bothwell doesn't name him, but it's clear he's talking about former Capt. Mark Byrd - who has since been terminated by Chief Hooper.

An inner circle of upper-level officers managed to poison that well. By accounts I deem reliable, they resented taking orders from a black man. They stirred the pot. And restirred. Anderson ultimately retired.

Now we have seen release of body-cam footage, strictly illegal under state law absent judicial review. What was the aim? To embarrass current Asheville Police Chief Tammy Hooper. Some might want to believe that the reason was to expose wrongdoing by an officer, but anyone with access to the video knew that the officer had already been  disciplined. To imagine that a senior officer actually wanted to release one more video that painted police as racist and abusive seems a stretch to me. There are (perhaps at this writing, hopefully, were) senior officers who didn’t like taking orders from a woman. This is the same crowd that forced out Anderson. I mean, specifically the same officers. I have been told this by a source with first-person, inside knowledge of the situation, but feel compelled to protect my source from possible repercussions. This is insider politics at its worst. This is unquestionably taking place inside the APD, and any “progressive” who seizes on this to argue for Hooper’s ouster is working for the other side. Unwittingly, sure. But unquestionably so.

I've been telling people for months that the release of the video was likely intended to undermine Chief Hooper. She also had complaints filed against her by senior leaders. Command staff was a mess.

Of course, Bothwell frames all of this through not only the social justice lens, but also through a political one. He says, "It seems a real shame when the right wing is able to wag the left wing’s tail."

It's not the "right wing," Cecil. It's the left wing's disdain and contempt for cops that's wagging your tail.

There is NO chief of police that will be adequate. It's not the person who holds the job. It's the profession itself.

Asheville celebrates local history with New Yorker's artwork

Asheville prides itself on promoting and celebrating all things local. The "buy local" campaign touts the benefits of keeping money in the local economy. Local activists protest the opening of chain stores in certain areas of town (unless it's a place that sells stuff the activists deem socially or politically acceptable).

And while I appreciate the concept and the campaign, sometimes a local product or service is simply inferior. That being said, it's hard to justify using a New York artist to make a street sculpture celebrating Asheville's Lexington Avenue "history and highlight its eclectic vibrance."

This is not to say that the piece is bad. It's a hollow stainless steel pillar with symbols that represent Lexington Avenue's businesses, people, and culture.

But I have a hard time believing that a locally-based artist didn't or couldn't create a piece of equal caliber as the piece Beatrice Coron created.

The new public artwork will be installed at 65 N. Lexington Ave., a spot adjacent to several retail establishments. Lexington Avenue was chosen because of its designation by the American Planning Association (APA) as one of five great streets on the organization’s 2016 Great Places in America list.

The Asheville Downtown Association Foundation raised $40,000 for the City for this art installation and a call for artists was issued in 2017.

After a competitive process, Coron’s design was selected by a jury team appointed by the City’s Public Art & Cultural Commission. The architectural column is designed to honor Lexington Avenue’s history and highlight its eclectic vibrance.

Here is a picture of it:

For a city that prides itself on its local artistic talent, this seems like a missed opportunity. You can read the artist's explanation about her work here.

The installation ceremony is set for 5:30 p.m. on Thursday.

But, wait! There's more!

Buncombe County Commissioners will vote on personnel policy tonight, as well as whether to approve a forensic audit.

An explanation of the six constitutional amendments that are slated to be on North Carolina ballots.

Monica Lewinsky walked off the stage during a live TV interview in Jerusalem, when the host asked her a question she said was predetermined to be "off limits."

Sen. John McCain's funeral put Washington's vicious political hypocrisy fully on display, writes Glenn Reynolds.

Pete Kaliner

Pete Kaliner

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