Police in Asheville, North Carolina, claimed on Wednesday that racial justice protesters left a coffin filled with dirt and “what we believe to be cow manure” at the station’s front door.
Local ABC affiliate WLOS reported that on Wednesday evening, September 23, protesters gathered in front of city hall around 7:30 p.m. to protest the announcement that a Kentucky grand jury had declined to press murder charges against the police officers who shot and killed Breonna Taylor in March.
In a lengthy Twitter thread, Asheville police reported about 150 protesters, who blocked traffic at times.
Here’s what you need to know:
Police Said That the Casket Was Left at the Front Door of the Department Around 8:30 p.m.
Around 8:30 p.m., police posted a photo to Twitter depicting a black coffin piled high with dirt, sitting inside the police department.
“Protesters have left a casket full of dirt and what we believe to be cow manure at the front door of APD,” they wrote.
The coffin incident, according to police, occurred while about 150 demonstrators gathered near Asheville’s city hall to protest the Breonna Taylor news. The protests appeared largely peaceful, although officers warned protesters several times to move after they blocked roadways, per videos police posted to Twitter.
One person was assaulted and hospitalized during the demonstration, local outlet WSPA reported.
The Night Before, the City Council Voted to Re-Allocate $770,000 From the Asheville Police Budget
The protests also came following a September 22 city council vote to cut the police department’s budget by $770,000 — a 3% decrease, the Citizen Times reported.
Community members and at least one city councilor took exception to the amount, insisting that more should be divested from the police and invested in the Black community.
“With the stated goal of seriously addressing Black Asheville Demands of divesting from the police and investing in Black communities, these proposed cuts fall way short,” Brian Haynes said. The police budget still has undergone a net increase of $4.1 million over five years, the Citizen Times reported.
Chief David Zack issued a statement on Facebook Wednesday addressing the police budget and alleging that many officers were concerned that they would no longer be able to support their families.
The last few months have been incredibly stressful for our community, our elected officials and our police officers and unsworn staff. The budget uncertainty left many of our officers wondering if they would have the means to support their families. Yet, these brave men and women came to work every day to keep Asheville safe. I’m proud of them all. There is still much work to be done. Uncomfortable conversations must continue, but they should not divide us. The Asheville Police Department is committed to reimagining public safety in our city. Let’s continue down the path together.
WLOS reported that some protesters Wednesday night were also speaking out against the police budget cut, which they believed was too small.
Many on Twitter Expressed Skepticism and Snark at the Police Department’s Claim About the Coffin
As of Thursday morning, the police department’s Twitter post had garnered 2,300 likes and more than 1,000 comments.
Many on Twitter found the department’s story dubious — or just funny. One user took issue with police’s statement that they only “believed” the substance to be cow manure.
“Hell, ya’ll boys in Asheville don’t know what cow manure smells like?” they wrote. “Better get the lab over to test it..
Several users also doubted that protesters would have been able to lug the sizeable coffin up to the front door of the police station and fill it with dirt and manure without police noticing.
“So, APD is either horrendously incompetent or more full of s*** than that coffin,” one wrote. “Which is it?”
Republican North Carolina Senator Thom Tillis, however, did not take the coffin incident lightly.
“This is a disgusting attack on [police],” he said. “The men and women in blue put their lives on the line every day to protect all citizens at the risk of not returning home to their families. Disgraceful attacks on our law enforcement officers must stop now.”
A spokeswoman for the police department told Heavy that there were “several individuals” livestreaming the placing of the coffin Wednesday night. Heavy has not found any footage as of yet.