Asheville police monitored groups in wake of 2016 shooting protests

FILE - Asheville Police Department sign. Asheville police say after protests in the wake of the deadly police shooting of a black man in 2016, police started monitoring several groups. (Photo credit: WLOS Staff)

After protests of the deadly police shooting of a black man in 2016, Asheville police say they began monitoring several groups through publicly accessible information.

Police say the monitoring was a response to threats made against Asheville officers.

"As far as their allegations of threats, it’s just ridiculous," said Matilda Bliss, of Showing Up for Racial Justice.

Authorities say information was monitored through social media and open events on groups including Asheville Politics, Black Lives Matter, DxE (Direct Action Everywhere) Asheville, and Standing Up for Racial Justice.

"I thought it was a complete violation of our privacy and a waste of tax payer dollars for the police to be monitoring a non-violent organization that promotes compassion and empathy for all beings," said Jeremy Sagaribay, Direct Action Everywhere Organizer.

Police said no one was under direct criminal surveillance as part of the monitoring.

Police also said they do not "collect information on any individuals or organizations based solely on ethnic background or race, religious or political affiliation, support of unpopular causes, or personal habitats or lifestyles."

"We're not gonna let them intimidate us. We're gonna continue to speak out for animals and raise our voices for compassion," Sagaribay added.

Jai "Jerry" Williams was shot and killed by an Asheville police officer in July 2016 after a police chase that ended at Deaverview Apartments.

In December 2016, Buncombe County District Attorney Todd Williams said the officer's actions were justified and no charges were filed.

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