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Eight arrested after sit-in at Asheville Police Department headquarters

The arrests happened around 2:50 p.m. after police say they gave multiple opportunities for protesters to leave the building. (Photo credit: WLOS)

ASHEVILLE, N.C. -- Police have arrested eight people after a sit-in at the Asheville Police Department.

Seven protesters now face the charge of disorderly conduct. An eighth person, a Mountain Xpress reporter, was "accidentally" arrested.

The arrests happened around 2:50 p.m. after police say they gave multiple opportunities for protesters to leave the building.

Earlier Friday, an Asheville police captain asked protesters to relocate to the Vance Monument. They say they will stay at APD and instead, moved their belongings outside.

Friday's protest follows the rally and march that began Thursday morning that led to the sit-in and subsequent sleep-in at Asheville Police Department headquarters.

In reaction to the deadly officer-involved shooting earlier this month, the protesters are calling for a response from Asheville Police Chief Tammy Hooper. They are also demanding the officer who shot Williams be fired and indicted on criminal charges.

RELATED | SBI says thorough investigation into officer-involved shooting will take several months

Hooper spoke to News 13 and said she would be willing to meet with organizers of the rally, but hasn't received a formal invitation. She also said the rumor that Williams was unarmed at the time of the shooting hasn't been proven at this time.

"Right now, I'm not going to take some preemptive action on speculation on things that aren't even true," Hooper said.

She urges the investigation is now in the hands of the SBI and says she will take an appropriate course of action if and when it needs to be taken.

Hooper also said she understands the protesters' right to assemble, but says she would rather them choose another location outside of APD headquarters.

"After giving them, I think, more than sufficient time to have that expression inside of our building, we have now sent down a liaison this morning to speak with the protest organizers just to talk to them about options for them to continue their protest in a more lawful manner," Hooper said.

Other community members feel this protest is not in the best interest of the Black Asheville community and understand why Hooper has been refraining from commenting.

"It's in the hands of the SBI," Rev. Keith Ogden said. "They will not give her information until after the investigation is over. So we're going for an indictment? An indictment for what? We don't know if he shot the guy intentionally. We don't know all the facts. Let's wait until we get all the facts."

"We wanted to give them space and opportunity just to be heard and express themselves, so we did that even though, you know, we certainly could ask them to leave our building at any time," Hooper said.

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